Perry Leads Romney Before Second Debate, Bachmann Fades

Politics   Steven Ertelt   Sep 12, 2011   |   10:40AM    Washington, DC

A new CNN poll shows pro-life Texas Gov. Rick Perry leads his Republican rival Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, by a large amount as pro-life Rep. Michele Bachmann is beginning to fade with GOP voters.

Perry enjoys a wide lead in a new survey ORC International conducted for CNN and is also viewed by Republican voters as having the best chance to defeat pro-abortion President Barack Obama next year. The poll comes just hours before the Republican candidates engage in the second debate that will feature Perry, who first participated in a GOP debate last week.

The CNN poll has Perry leading with the support of 30 percent of the Republicans surveyed, compared with 18 percent for Romney, who is campaigning for the second time as a pro-life candidate for president. Voters on the GOP side also see Perry as most likely to be able to defeat Obama in 2012, with more than 40 percent saying so compared with 26 percent who say Romney has the best shot to win.

CNN polling director Keating Holland responded to the results, saying, Perry’s electability “may go a very long way toward explaining his rise in the polls, since three-quarters of all Republicans say they would prefer a candidate who can beat President Obama over one who agrees with them on major issues.”

“Perry’s support comes mostly from Republicans who support the tea party movement, although he has a statistically insignificant edge among non-tea party Republicans as well,” he added. “Perry doesn’t simply have the most support in a hypothetical ballot – he also tops the list of GOP candidates on every personal quality tested.”

“Thirty-six percent, for example, see him as the strongest leader in the field, with Romney second at 21 percent. According to the poll, 35 percent say Perry is the Republican candidate most likely to get the economy moving again, with Romney in second at 26 percent,” he explained. “Nearly three in ten say that Perry is the candidate who is most likely to fight for his beliefs, with Palin in second place at 23 percent and, significantly, Romney in a distant tie for fourth at just 11 percent.”

There is some downside for Perry, the CNN pollster explains.

“The poll indicates that Perry doesn’t fare quite as well on issues. Only 26 percent say he is the Republican hopeful who is most likely to agree with them on the issues. That’s good enough for the top spot on that measure, too, but it’s a far cry from the low 30s and high 40s Perry pulls on electability and leadership,” he said. “Perry’s biggest Achilles heel may be the likeability factor. Only one in four say he is the most likable GOP candidate out there, his lowest mark on the six items tested. Romney typically finishes second to Perry on those measures, but it’s worth noting that only 15 percent say he is most likely to agree with them on issues and only 11 percent say Romney is most likely to fight for his beliefs.”

Looking further at the poll, CNN says former Alaska governor Sarah Palin comes in third with 15% should she decide to enter the Republican race, and she is reportedly planning to make her intentions known by the end of the month. Rep. Ron Paul, a pro-life Texas Republican, comes in fourth place with 12 percent.

Should Palin decide against running, Perry continues to lead the field as the poll shows Perry at 32 percent, Romney 21 percent, Paul 13 percent and all other candidates, including Bachmann, in single digits.

However, in another sign that the campaign hopes of Michele Bachmann are fading, the Minnesota congresswoman polls only 4 percent in the CNN survey, below both Newt Gingrich and  Herman Cain, two other pro-life candidates who have failed to break out of single digits in the campaign. Bachmann has seen her numbers drop continuously since winning the Iowa Straw Poll in August.