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Rick Perry Takes The Lead In New Iowa Poll, But Warning Signs Abound For The GOP

Just about ten days after entering the race in the wake of Michele Bachmann’s straw poll win, Rick Perry is now at the top  in Iowa according to a new poll from Public Policy Polling:

The race is pretty close four ways in Iowa but Rick Perry is the new favorite among Republican voters in the state. Among announced candidates he’s at 22% to 19% for Mitt Romney, 18% for Michele Bachmann, and 16% for Ron Paul. Further back are Herman Cain at 7%, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum at 5%, and Jon Huntsman at 3%.

If you throw Sarah Palin into the mix the numbers are pretty similar with Perry at 21%, Romney at 18%, Bachmann at 15%, Paul at 12%, and Palin registering at only 10%.

Not surprisingly, Perry is drawing significant support from Tea Party voters and from the evangelical social conservatives that make up such a large portion of the Iowa GOP:

Only 33% of Republican voters in Iowa identify themselves as members of the Tea Party but a broad advantage with them is driving Perry’s lead. He gets 32% to 22% for Bachmann, and 19% for Paul. Romney is all the way back in 6th place with those voters at only 6%. Romney doesn’t need to win Tea Party voters to win in Iowa but he needs to do a whole lot better than that. With the majority of Republicans who don’t consider themselves Tea Partiers Romney actually leads Perry and Bachmann with 30% to their 16% but it’s not enough to make up for his poor performance with the far right faction of the party.

And, also not surprisingly, the controversial statements that Perry has made over the past week aren’t hurting him very much:

Only 35% of Iowa Republicans believe in evolution to 48% who don’t. With the ones who do believe in it Perry’s in 4th place at 12%, putting him behind Romney’s 24%, Paul’s 18%, and Bachmann’s 15%. But with the evolution deniers Perry is the overwhelming favorite at 32% to Bachmann’s 19%, Romney’s 15%, and Paul’s 13%.

It’s a similar story with global warming. Only 21% of GOP voters believe in it while 66% do not. Again with the believers Romney is in a strong first place at 31% to 15% for Paul, 13% for Bachmann, 11% for Huntsman, and only 9% for Perry. But with the much more numerous group of Republicans who think global warming is a farce Perry cleans up at 28% to 20% for Bachmann, 16% for Paul, and 13% for Romney, giving him the overall lead.

There even continues to be a pretty strong birther strain in Iowa. 48% of Republican voters believe Barack Obama was born in the United States but 32% still do not. With the ones who think Obama was born in the country, Romney edges Perry 25-22. That’s more than overcome by Perry’s 22-10 lead with the GOP voters who don’t think the President is a legitimate US citizen.

As PPP notes, the person who seems to have lost the most in Iowa based on this poll is Michele Bachmann. She remains in third place in the PPP poll, and her win in Ames didn’t give her much of an immediate boost in the polls. Most significant, though, is the fact that Perry has quickly jumped into the lead against Bachmann among Tea Party and conservative voters. Additionally, Bachmann’s overall favorablility in the state has declined. If that continues, Bachmann is going to have a hard time competing against Perry in the caucuses. Interestingly, Ron Paul, who finished just behind Bachmann in the straw poll, saw his poll numbers increase from 11% to 16% and his overall favorability among Republican voters increased to the point where only Rick Perry has a higher favorable/unfavorable ratio than he does. Paul may not win the nomination, but he seems to be making a positive impression among Republicans in Iowa, which could make for interesting times at the caucuses.

It’s not all good news for Perry, though, because the poll also find that he trails the President in a head-to-head matchup. In fact, the only Republican candidate who comes close to Obama in such a matchup is Mitt Romney, who ties the President. All the other candidates trail the President in the Hawkeye State outside the margin of error. The main reason for Obama’s lead in the state, appears to be the Hispanic vote:

One big reason Obama’s doing pretty well in these match ups is the Hispanic vote. Exit polls in 2008 showed him winning it by a 36 point margin over McCain but he builds on that in all of these match ups with a 37 point advantage over Romney at 66-29, a 46 point one over Perry at 72-26, a 48 point edge over Bachmann at 74-26, a 49 point lead on Palin at 74-25, and a 53 point spread on Herman Cain at 75-22. This is a good example of what Republican strategist Mike Murphy has described as the economics vs. demographics tension for next year’s election. The economy could sink Obama but at the same time an ever growing expanding Hispanic vote that he wins by a huge margin could be enough to let him eek out a second term.

It should also be a message to the GOP that they are losing the fastest growing ethnic demographic in the country, largely because of their stand on immigration-related issues, and that their electoral prospects in Iowa and around the country are only going to get worse if that continues.

 

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. legion says:

    As PPP notes, the person who seems to have lost the most in Iowa based on this poll is Michele Bachmann.

    I find this very interesting. It appears, to my cynical eye, that religious conservatives will dump a woman to follow a man, even when they say largely the same things. I suspect that as long as Perry remains a viable candidate, Bachmann will not win another poll.

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  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    It should also be a message to the GOP

    It is a message, but they aren’t listening Doug.

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  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    It appears, to my cynical eye, that religious conservatives will dump a woman to follow a man, even when they say largely the same things.

    Legion, there is a big difference between the 2: Perry is a 3 term governor and Bachmann is a 2, 3 (?) term congress critter who hasn’t done anything. Mind you, I don’t think it really matters when they are both certifiable, but there it is.

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  4. legion says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Oh, I agree – from an objective standpoint Perry is definitely more qualified than Bachmann. I think it’s either a wash or maybe slightly in Bachmann’s favor as to who has the most national exposure. I just don’t think that matters to the demographic that’s leaving her for Perry right now. Admittedly, it’s purely a gut response… there’s still way too many moving parts to do more than guesstimate right now.

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  5. Fiona says:

    I pretty much figured that Perry’s entry into the race would suck the air out of Bachmann’s campaign. I also suspect that he’d beat out La Diva Palin should she decide to enter the race.

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  6. ponce says:

    Only 35% of Iowa Republicans believe in evolution to 48% who don’t.

    How does data like this apply to politics?

    Do the people who don’t believe in evolution believe America’s problems will be solved (by gawd) if we just elect the most righteous candidate?

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  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Do the people who don’t believe in evolution believe America’s problems will be solved (by gawd) if we just elect the most righteous candidate?

    yes.

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  8. Joe R. says:

    @ponce: If someone insisted that 2+2=mauve, I would question his or her ability to cast an informed vote.

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  9. A voice from another precinct says:

    @ponce: “Do the people who don’t believe in evolution believe America’s problems will be solved (by gawd) if we just elect the most righteous candidate? ”

    Why yes, in fact they do! You should watch TBN sometime during the news hour to get a feel for what these people really believe about the nation and the politics therein.

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  10. A voice from another precinct says:

    @Joe R.: ” If someone insisted that 2+2=mauve, I would question his or her ability to cast an informed vote. ”

    So would I. Where is the language in either the Voter Rights Act or the Constitution requiring the voter to cast an informed vote? Do we really believe that informed voters would have been choosing between Obama and McCain? Isn’t that simply a sign that the system is as rigged as it is in, say, Venezuela?

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  11. James in LA says:

    @Joe R.: Ayuh. Question away. Attend a caucus and get all up in their pusses and demand to know why their magic-thinking ought to be the basis for a planned trip to the loo, much less public policy? Demand to see credentials. Demand proof. Indicate in the strongest possible terms that the days of not questioning their silly, nutty, fact-adverse religion are OVER. And do it repeatedly, and with vigor. Threaten taxation for not being able to remain neutral in ‘turch. Don’t be afraid to get all red-faced about it.

    And never deny anyone the right to vote for any reason. If we want Americans, we must demand them. And Americans vote, period.

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