Polls: Romney Leads GOP Race After Debate; Bachmann, Palin Second

Politics   Steven Ertelt   Jun 16, 2011   |   10:16AM    Washington, DC

Two new polls show former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with a comfortable lead over his Republican presidential opponents following Monday night’s debate in New Hampshire, the site of the second primary election contest.

A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows Romney, who asserted his pro-life views during the debate, leading and pro-life Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota placing second following her entry into the presidential nomination battle on Monday night during the debate. The poll of likely voters has Romney earning 33% support with Bachmann at 19 percent, while pro-life Georgia businessman Herman Cain is in third place with 10% of the vote.

Looking at other candidates in the race, pro-life former House Speaker Newt Gingrich picks up nine percent support, followed by pro-life Texas Congressman Ron Paul with seven percent, and pro-life former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and pro-life former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum with 6 percent. Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, who did not participate in the debate but is expected to announce his candidacy on Tuesday, gets two percent of the vote and 8 percent prefer another candidate or are undecided.

Most polls show Romney doing well with more establishment Republicans and Bachmann faring better with more conservative voters and the Rasmussen survey is no exception.

“Romney and Bachmann are tied among primary voters who say they are Tea Party members, with 26% support each. Romney holds a 36% to 16% lead over the congresswoman among non-members. Most primary voters regard all the candidates with the exception of Huntsman as conservative, but Bachmann is seen as the most conservative,” pollster Scott Rasmussen said. “Romney, Bachmann and Cain earn 31%, 22% and 12% support respectively among primary voters who describe themselves as conservatives. Romney runs strongest among party moderates.”

Meanwhile, a new Wall St. Journal poll has Romney leading with 30 percent of the vote to 14 for Sarah Palin, 12 percent for Herman Cain, an 8 percent for pro-life Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Because they are not candidates yet, Palin and Perry were not included in the Rasmussen poll. The WSJ poll finds Bachmann with just three percent if Palin and Perry are included while Paul gets 7 percent, Gingrich gets 6 percent, and Santorum and Pawlenty 4 percent apiece.

In a smaller trial heat consisting of just six Republican candidates, Romney’s lead jumps to 43 percent, with Paul and Bachmann at 11 percent, Santorum at 9 percent, Gingrich at 8 percent and Pawlenty at 7 percent. The poll makes it clear that supporters of Palin shift to Bachmann when she is not included.

The WSJ poll also showed that just 45 percent of Republicans are happy with the GOP field — compared with 73 percent who said the same thing in 2008.

It also surveys voters in general about a potential matchup with Obama and finds Obama leads Romney 49 percent to 43 percent and is ahead of Pawlenty by 13 points, 50 percent to 37 percent while other candidates do not fare as well.

The poll also finds Obama’s popularity at 49 percent to 37 percent favorable/unfavorable, which compares to 27 percent to 26 percent for Romney, 14 percent to 15 percent for Pawlenty, 24 percent to 54 percent for Palin and a record-setting 16 percent to 48 percent for former House Speaker Gingrich.

The Rasmussen survey of 1,000 Likely GOP Primary Voters was conducted on June 14, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. Likely GOP Primary Voters include both Republicans and unaffiliated voters likely to vote in a GOP Primary.