Continuing her momentum following her entry into the Republican presidential race, pro-life Rep. Michele Bachmann now leads a national poll of GOP voters after posting leads in polls in the first battleground state of Iowa.
The new survey, conducted by the Public Policy Polling firm, shows Bachmann has taken a lead over her Republican competitors by a small 1 percent margin that is within the margin of error for the poll. Some 21 percent of Republicans put the Minnesota congresswoman as their first choice compared with 20 percent for Mitt Romney, 12% for Rick Perry, 11% for Herman Cain, 9% for Ron Paul, 7% for Newt Gingrich, 5% for Tim Pawlenty, and 3% for Jon Huntsman.
Bachmann’s rise has been fueled by her appeal to voters on the more conservative side of the political spectrum as she leads 26-15 percent over Romney with voters who classify themselves as “very conservative.” Still, Bachmann also leads with centrist Republicans (23-17) and with those defining themselves as only somewhat right of center (24-17).
UPDATE: Late in the day, a new NBC/Wall St. Journal poll had Romney leading and Bachmann second. Romney remains the national leader with 30 percent of GOP primary voters saying they support him compared to 16 percent for Bachmann. In that poll, perry is at 11 percent, Paul 9 percent and Gingrich 8 percent. Cain gets 5 percent, Santorum 3 percent, and Pawlenty and Huntsman come in with 2 percent apiece.
The PP poll showing Bachmann leading poll also found Bachmann’s chances would suffer greatly should pro-life former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin enter the race.
As pollster Tom Jensen said, “Oddly enough one of the best things that could happen to Romney right now is the late entry of Sarah Palin into the race. In a ballot test including her as a candidate he leads the way with 20% to 16% for Bachmann, 12% for Palin, and 11% for Perry. 44% of Palin’s voters say they would vote for Bachmann if Palin didn’t run, compared to only 6% who say they would otherwise vote for Romney. So basically a Palin candidacy would take a large bite out of Bachmann’s support with virtually no impact on Romney.”
However, the poll shows Republicans don’t want Palin to run as just 29 percent think she should enter the race at this point to 53% opposed to that idea.
“It’s not that GOP voters don’t like Palin- 57% have a favorable opinion of her to 32% with a negative one, the best favorability spread of anyone we tested on this poll,” Jensen explains. “But even among those voters who see her in a positive light only 45% think she should make a White House bid. There just continues to be a significant disconnect between Republicans liking Palin and thinking she should be President.”
PPP also looked at the overlap of where Republicans stand in a two-person race. If it comes down to Bachmann against Romney, Bachmann would win the support of Cain voters (57-35), Paul backers (43-31), and Perry’s (57-30) while Romney would get the voters of Gingrich supporters (43-29), Huntsman ones (79-10), and Pawlenty’s (43-32).
The numbers are important, Jensen notes, because they make it appear a candidacy by pro-life Texas Gov. Rick Perry would hurt Bachmann.
“The fact that 57% of Perry’s supporters would otherwise prefer Bachmann to only 30% who would go for Romney suggests that his entrance into the race would have the potential to stifle Bachmann’s momentum. Perry’s 12% debut in our polling is a very strong entrance given how little exposure he’s had so far on the national stage. Other than Bachmann he has to be seen as the biggest winner on this poll,” he said.