Perry Opens Up Big Leads Nationally, in South Carolina

Politics   Steven Ertelt   Aug 30, 2011   |   11:57AM    Washington, DC

Rick Perry, the pro-life Texas governor, has opened up big leads over his Republican presidential opponents both nationally and in South Carolina, the site of the third primary election battleground next year.

A new CNN poll featuring interviews with 1,017 adult Americans conducted by telephone by ORC International on August 24-25 shows Perry at 27 percent compared with Mitt Romney at 14 percent, Sarah Palin at 10 percent, and Michele Bachmann and Rudy Giuliani at 9 percent each. Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul both pick up 6 percent in the survey.

Those numbers are an improvement for Perry, who entered the race on the same day Bachmann won the Iowa Straw Poll in Ames. A mid-August CNN poll showed Romney leading with 17 percent compared with 15% for Perry and 12 percent each for Palin, Giuliani, and Paul.

Both the current and mid-August polls have Herman Cain, Gary Johnson, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman in low single digits.

The current poll, without Giuliani and Palin — neither of whom appear likely to run — has Perry at 32 percent, Romney at 18 percent, Bachmann at 12 percent, and all other candidates below the 10 percentage mark. Gingrich and Paul come next with 7 percent and 6 percent apiece. A total of 14 percent of Republicans don’t have an opinion on a favorite candidate yet.

CNN indicates 72 percent of Democrats say yes when asked, “Do you think the Democratic party should renominate Barack Obama as the party’s candidate for president in 2012, or do you think the Democratic party should nominate a different candidate for president in 2012?” Some 27 percent of Democrats want someone new.

Meanwhile, in South Carolina, a new PPP survey shows Perry has built up a solid lead there as well. When PPP last polled there in early June, Mitt Romney led everyone in the field by at least 15 points, but Perry’s entry into the race has changed that. Perry leads with support of 36 percent of Republicans in South Carolina compared with 16% for Romney, 13% for Michele Bachmann, 9% for Herman Cain, 8% for Newt Gingrich, 5% for Ron Paul, 4% for Rick Santorum, and 2% for Jon Huntsman.

“Voters on the far right side of the Republican spectrum have been dying for a candidate they can call their own and Perry is filling that void,” PPP pollster Tom Jensen said. “With folks describing themselves as ‘very conservative,’ which is the largest segment of the GOP electorate in South Carolina, Perry’s at 44% to 14% for Bachmann, with Romney mired in single digits at 9%.”

“That furthest right group of voters has never been all that friendly to Romney though. What has to be a greater sign of concern for him is that with those labeling themselves as only ‘somewhat conservative’ he still trails Perry 37-19 with Bachmann at 11% and Cain at 10%,” Jensen continued. “When Romney’s primary threat was Bachmann he was still winning this group of voters. But Perry seems to be filling a void for voters looking for someone more conservative than Romney and more credible than Bachmann and if he can sustain his lead with that segment of voters he’s going to be tough to topple.”

PPP also looked at the race if it becomes a three-way contest, and that matchup showed Perry would hit 50% with Romney at 25% and Bachmann at 16%. If it was just Perry and Romney, Perry would lead 59-28. If it was Perry and Bachmann, Perry would lead 63-20.