Mitt Romney has almost caught up to Rick Perry, a new Rasmussen poll shows, after Perry underperformed in two recent debates and following attention from other candidates and the press on Perry’s views on Social Security.
Perry, the pro-life Texas governor, has maintained leads in polls over the last two weeks following two recent Republican debates, but he has been ceding ground to Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who is on his second bid running as a pro-life candidate for the Republican nomination.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of likely Republican voters shows Perry with 28% support and Romney capturing 24%. Before Perry entered his first debate, the Texan held an eleven point advantage over Romney, 29% to 18%.
The survey makes it clear Perry is the top candidate for conservative and very conservative voters — among conservative GOP primary voters, Perry leads by nine — while Romney is the favorite for center-right and moderate Republicans, where he leads by 12.
The poll also shows 75 percent of Republicans have a favorable view of Romney while 73% feel that way about Perry. But Perry’s support is more enthusiastic– 33% have a Very Favorable impression of him while just 23% say the same about the man from Massachusetts. Rasmussen also indicates Perry is supported by 36% of Evangelical Christian voters along with 31% of Catholic voters. Romney is backed by a plurality (31%) of Protestant voters.
Perry will have the chance tomorrow night in Florida to widen the gap again between himself and Romney as Republicans prepare for the third debate in which Perry will appear.
The poll is also important because it is yet another national survey of Republicans showing that the race is boiling down to a contest between Perry and Romney.
“As of now, the 2012 Republican Presidential Primary race is all about Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, with no other candidate reaching double-digit support,” pollster Scott Rasmussen said.
Trailing far behind the frontrunners are former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at nine percent (9%), Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann at eight percent (8%), Georgia businessman Herman Cain with seven percent (7%) support and Texas Congressman Ron Paul who earns six percent (6%). Each of those candidates also hold a pro-life position on abortion.
Rick Santorum, former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, draws the vote from three percent (3%) while ex-Utah Governor Jon Huntsman draws support from two percent (2%). Michigan Congressman Thad McCotter comes in with just one percent (1%) of the vote. They, too hold pro-life views. Another 11% of GOP voters are undecided at this time.
Sixty-five percent (65%) have a favorable opinion of Bachmann, down from 71% in August. Paul is viewed favorably by 41% and unfavorably by 50%.
The survey of 1,000 Likely GOP Primary Voters was conducted on September 19, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. Likely GOP Primary Voters include both Republicans and unaffiliated voters likely to vote in a GOP Primary. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.