Poll: Perry Leads Republicans, Romney Better Against Obama

Politics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 26, 2011   |   12:50PM   |   Washington, DC

The first new national poll following last week’s third Republican presidential debate featuring pro-life Texas Gov. Rick Perry shows him still leading the GOP 2012 hopefuls. However, the survey has Mitt Romney as faring the best in a matchup against Barack Obama.

Perry is still at the top of the Republican list of presidential candidates despite turning in what most political observers believed was another lackluster debate performance. Still, the new CNN/ORC national poll finds Perry in front with the backing of 28 percent of Republican voters.

Romney comes in second with the support of 21 percent of Republicans, Newt Gingrich follows with the backing of 10 percent, Herman Cain enjoys the support of 7 percent, as does Ron Paul and Sarah Palin, who is not seeking the Republican nomination at this time. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota is at four percent, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania receives three percent, and former Utah Gov. and ambassador to China Jon Huntsman is last at one percent.

Without Palin in the mix, the survey shows similar results: Perry would be at 30 percent, Romney 22%, Gingrich 11%, and the other candidates remain in single digits. The poll was conducted Friday through Sunday, after last Thursday’s debate in Orlando, Florida.

“Did Perry’s performance in the most recent debate affect the horse race? Maybe yes, but maybe no,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “Perry’s support is down just two points, and Romney is up only one to three points – and since all those numbers are well within the sampling error, it doesn’t look like much has changed, possibly because average voters aren’t as plugged into the debates as political junkies are. If the debates have had an effect, it may be mostly in favor of Gingrich, whose support went from 5 percent in mid-September to 10 percent now.”

The CNN poll shows Obama’s approval rating at 45 percent with 52 percent of Americans disapproving of his job performance. Still, against most of the GOP field, the pro-abortion president leads in one on one matchups.

The survey indicates Romney fares best against Obama, with Obama ahead 49-48 percent. Obama holds a 51-46 percent lead over Perry and a 51-47 percent lead over Paul. Obama also easily beats Bachmann and Palin matchups.

Obama does well because his personal approval rating is eight percent higher than his job approval rating — meaning Americans still like Obama and may hope he is able to turn the economy around between now and the 2012 election. Fifty-two percent of all Americans disagree with him on issues, but 58 percent believe he has the personality and leadership qualities a president should have. And by a 49 to 43 percent margin, Americans say personal qualities are more important than issues to their vote for president.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from September 23-25, with 1,010 adult Americans, including 447 Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP questioned by telephone. The survey’s overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.