Rick Perry: The New GOP Frontrunner

Meet your new Republican frontrunner.

Two new polls of the national GOP field are showing evidence of a significant shakeup in the race in the wake of the Ames Straw Poll and, more importantly, Rick Perry’s entrance into the race. In both cases, Perry holds the lead nationally among declared GOP candidates by an amount exceeding the poll’s margin of error, while both Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann have slipped significantly from where they were in July when a Perry candidacy was little more than a rumor. If these numbers hold up, and pending the entrance of any other major candidates into the race, we could be looking at the new normal in the GOP race, and Mitt Romney is going to actually have to start campaigning for the GOP nomination now rather than running as the presumptive nominee.

First up, we have Public Policy Polling, which shows Perry with a 13 point lead over Romney:

In PPP’s first national poll since Rick Perry’s official entry into the Presidential race he’s jumped out to a double digit advantage. Perry’s at 33% to 20% for Mitt Romney, 16% for Michele Bachmann, 8% for Newt Gingrich, 6% for Herman Cain and Ron Paul, 4% for Rick Santorum, and 3% for Jon Huntsman.

Conservative voters have been looking for a candidate that they can rally around and Perry’s filling that role. Romney continues to lead with the small portion of voters describing themselves as moderates at 27% to 20% for Bachmann and 15% for Perry. But Perry gets stronger and stronger as you move across the ideological spectrum. With ‘somewhat conservative’ voters Perry leads by 15 points with 38% to Romney’s 23% and Bachmann’s 11%. And with ‘very conservative’ voters the advantage expands to 22 points with him at 40% to 18% for Bachmann and 14% for Romney.

Perry was at only 12% five weeks ago, so he’s climbed 21 points since entering the race. The biggest losers with his entry have been Bachmann and Cain, who’ve each lost 5 points of support, and Paul, who’s lost 3 points of support. Romney and Huntsman are both unchanged from a month ago while Gingrich has actually gained a point of support.

More interesting, perhaps, is what happens when you poll the a two or three person race with Perry, Romney, and Bachmann:

In a 3 way Perry would get 41% to 29% for Romney and 19% for Bachmann. There was some thought that Perry’s entry would actually help Romney because it would lead to a split in the conservative vote between Perry and Bachmann but Perry is now winning those voters by such a wide margin that it doesn’t even matter.

Perry also leads head to heads with both Romney (52-36) and Bachmann (56-26). In the match up with Romney Perry picks up Bachmann supporters (47-37), Cain supporters (61-29), Paul supporters (43-28), and Santorum supporters (68-21). Romney gets Gingrich supporters (51-35) and Huntsman supporters (76-24).

In the match up with Bachmann Perry wins Cain supporters (49-38), Gingrich supporters (52-32), Paul supporters (44-28), and Romney supporters (53-20). Huntsman supporters (24-21 for Bachmann) and Santorum supporters (44-43 for Perry) split pretty evenly.

The results are somewhat similar in a new Gallup poll, which shows Perry with a 12 point lead over Romney, with Bachmann falling to fourth place:

Shortly after announcing his official candidacy, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has emerged as rank-and-file Republicans’ current favorite for their party’s 2012 presidential nomination. Twenty-nine percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents nationwide say they are most likely to support Perry, with Mitt Romney next, at 17%.

hese results are based on an Aug. 17-21 Gallup poll, the first conducted after several important events in the Republican nomination campaign, including the second candidate debate, the Iowa Straw Poll, and Perry’s official entry into the race after months of speculation.

Romney and Perry essentially tied for the lead in late July, based on re-computed preferences that include the current field of announced candidates. Gallup’s official July report, based on the announced field at the time and thus excluding Perry, showed Romney with a 27% to 18% lead over Michele Bachmann. Romney enjoyed an even wider, 17-point lead in June over Herman Cain among the field of announced candidates (Gallup did not include Perry among the nominee choices before July).

If you include Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani  in the mix, Perry(25%) still leads Romney(14%) by 11 points, with Palin tied with Ron Paul for 3rd place at 11%. In fact, other than Perry, the only person who gets

This chart shows how the numbers have changed over time, and the real extent of the Perry surge.

The most surprising thing from the poll may be the fact that Perry leads the field in virtually every demographic group:

These Gallup and PPP numbers are, for the most, part consistent with the Rasmussen Poll that came out lase week showing Perry in the lead.

There was a sense before he entered the race that Perry would be a strong contender if he entered the race so it wasn’t at all surprising to see him vault right into the top tier immediately. Despite his statement in April that he wasn’t running, Perry’s name was being mentioned continuously by conservative activists as someone that they’d like to see get into the race, and his reception at events like CPAC, or the Red State Gathering where he announced his candidacy, was just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the high regard grass roots conservatives hold Perry in, for whatever reason. Despite this, I’ve got to say that the size of Perry’s “entrance bounce” has been fairly astounding, and may be as much a reflection of the fact that many conservatives weren’t satisfied with the potential challengers to Mitt Romney, most of whom lack any real experience in government.

If these polls aren’t setting off alarm bells in the Romney camp, they certainly ought to be. After coasting along for most of 2011 as the leader of the GOP field facing a field of conservative challengers that clearly didn’t have much appeal outside their own little niches of the GOP, Romney now finds himself in a real race with a candidate that is both more conservative, and more experience as an Executive at the government level, than he is. If nothing else, the fact that Rick Perry has never lost any election he’s stood for should be something that has Romney thinking that he needs to step up his game. Up until now, Romney has been able to float about the GOP field and concentrate his fire on the President, an image that created an air of inevitability to his campaign. He can’t do that anymore. He’ll have to get back to competing against his GOP rivals, specifically against Rick Perry.

It’s still very early in the game, of course. Perry hasn’t even been in the race for a week yet, and he hasn’t shared a debate stage with Romney and the other candidates yet. It’s possible, as the race goes on, that his star will fade and that voters in Iowa, South Carolina, and elsewhere won’t be quite as impressed with his Texas swagger as they seem to be. It’s also possible that some of the things that have come out over the past two weeks, such as the truth about Perry’s record in Texas, his advocacy of a mandatory HPV vaccine, his comments about Ben Bernanke and evolution, and his crony capitalism  will start to diminish his star somewhat. It’s going to take a candidate like Romney to do that, though, and to point out the differences between him and Perry. Given that such a large segment of the GOP base has doubts about Romney to begin with, it’s not going to be an easy task.

In any case, the reset button has been set just as the campaign is starting to get serious. Rick Perry is your frontrunner, Republicans. Let’s see how that works out for you.

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Doug Mataconis
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. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Hey Norm says:

    Tells you everything you need to know about the so-called Republicans.

  2. Fiona says:

    I can’t say I’m surprised by the latest polls. I figured Perry would catapult to the top of the field, although perhaps not as quickly and decisively as he has.

    Maybe Perry’s entry into the race as a real contender will enable Romney to grow a spine and stop pandering. He can’t run to Perry’s right flank, so he might as well run as the relative moderate he is.

    I’ve never thought Romney would win the Republican nomination anyway. He comes off as an insincere, out-of-touch rich guy who’s pretty tone deaf to any Republican constituency other than the corporatist Republican elites. Plus, the whole Mormon thing is a real problem for Romney. When a large part of your party’s base consists of evangelical Christians, and you subscribe to a religious belief they consider non-Christian and suspect, you’re going to have a tough time winning primaries in the Bible Belt. Finally, Romney has only a tad more charisma than Tim Pawlenty. He may look presidential, but he’s boring.

  3. Hey Norm says:

    PERRY/PALIN ’12!!!

  4. Two interesting things I noticed:

    Other than Perry, the only candidate increasing support is Ron Paul.

    Ron Paul shows a suprising level of support in the under 30 crowd.

  5. Boyd says:

    Did they really mention a 3-way with Perry, Romney and Bachmann? Really? How can I bleach that thought out of my brain? Aaargh!

  6. ponce says:

    Perry reminds me so much of the dimwitted Republican challenger James Brolin played in “The West Wing.”

  7. @ponce:

    You aren’t the first one to make the the Rob Ritchie comparison.

  8. Wayne says:

    The far left hates Perry. That is another indication that he may be the Right candidate.

  9. Hey Norm says:

    @ Wayne…
    You far-right extremeists get so hung up on “hate”.
    I don’t hate the guy. I’m amused by his simple-mindedness. And his flippedy-floppyness. And the fact that he thinks he is an Apostle. I mean – this is funny stuff. This fellow has been a candidate for what – a week? Everyday it’s something new he says that is totally ridiculous. Evolution is a theory that’s out there. A flip on Climate Change. A flop on SS – he was for abolishing Social Security before he was agin’ it. Can this go on until November ’12?
    But I think you are correct – those are things that make him perfect for the so-called Republicans.

  10. Hey Norm says:

    C’mon – everyone say “flippedy-floppyness”…it’s fun!!!

  11. Lit3Bolt says:

    @Wayne:

    Thank you for boiling down modern day conservative thought.

    Cleek’s definition of conservatism is true and confirmed by conservatives themselves.

    Rick Perry pisses off liberals…therefore he must be the GOP candidate. That’s it. His only qualification.

  12. john personna says:

    I’m of two minds. On the one hand he’d seem an easy opponent for Obama. He’s got too many skeletons in his crazy-closet. On the other hand, it would mean the Republicans are still wandering in their particular wilderness. That’s sad in its own right.

  13. ponce says:

    You aren’t the first one to make the the Rob Ritchie comparison.

    I was never very original…and the resemblance is uncanny.

    It will be interesting to see how well Perry fends off attacks from Romney and the Bushies.

  14. john personna says:

    @Fiona:

    Plus, the whole Mormon thing is a real problem for Romney. When a large part of your party’s base consists of evangelical Christians, and you subscribe to a religious belief they consider non-Christian and suspect, you’re going to have a tough time winning primaries in the Bible Belt.

    This. Poor Romney, he should just hang up national politics. The Mormon thing is incompatible with the American Theocracy thing.

  15. @Wayne:

    The far left hates Perry. That is another indication that he may be the Right candidate.

    Doing something purely because your opponents hate it is just as dumb as doing things purely to appease you’re opponents. In either case you’re allowing your opponents to control your actions.

  16. tyndon clusters says:

    Wayne,

    Your side is about to be waxed again by the Magic Negro as the blithering idiots on the right form a circular firing squad and nominate Perry.

    Hmmmm, maybe nominating a crazy governor from Texas in light of the last election would tend to dissuade a reasonable electorate, but hey, you guys are Republican and the term reasonable republican is an oxymoron of the highest order.

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    https://www.outsidethebeltway.com/would-running-spell-the-end-of-palin//#comments

    Hmmmm, maybe nominating a crazy governor from Texas in light of the last election would tend to dissuade a reasonable electorate, but hey, you guys are Republican and the term reasonable republican is an oxymoron of the highest order.

    TC; To them a “reasonable republican” kills innocent men, and then covers it up.

    “It takes a lot of balls to kill an innocent man.”

  18. jan says:

    It’s been a circus watching liberals falling all over themselves throwing mud at Perry. It reminds me of how fast negativity was ramped up towards Palin in ’08.

    However, I think it’s a blessing in disguise for a candidate to go through this gauntlet of accusations/vitriol at the get go, in that it serves as a primer on how to handle themselves more effectively as the campaign narrows to the primary and then the general election.

    The person left standing to face Obama will consequently be a tested and worthy opponent.

  19. WR says:

    @jan: Yes, that terrible, terrible mud. How dare liberals ask Perry about things he wrote in a book he published ten months ago and now claims we shouldn’t pay attention to. The horror, the horror.

  20. Fiona says:

    Egads Jan. Don’t you ever get tired of repeating Faux News talking points and defending the indefensible? The press treated La Diva Palin with kid gloves. She was never even subjected to a press conference and only spoke to Faux News, who probably gave her the questions in advance, after she bombed out with Gibson and Couric.

    As for Perry, I think it’s pretty legitimate to ask him about a book he put out just a few months ago in which he took some pretty extreme positions (just as it was legitimate for Piers Morgan to ask Christine The Witch O’Donnell questions about positions she took in her book). Likewise, it’s legitimate for the press to look into his record as governor of Texas. At least, unlike Palin, Perry doesn’t strike me as a big old crybaby, whining about how the lame-stream media is out to get him. Another reason while he’ll wipe the floor with La Diva Palin if she decides to run.

  21. anjin-san says:

    Egads Jan. Don’t you ever get tired of repeating Faux News talking points and defending the indefensible?

    No.

  22. anjin-san says:

    It reminds me of how fast negativity was ramped up towards Palin in ’08.

    Hmm. Campbell Brown of CNN was practically orgasmic gushing about Palin at the GOP convention. Almost all of her early press was positive.

    The problems started when the press was informed it had to agree in advance to treat Palin with “due deference” if they wanted access to her. Mind you, this is a politician with no national track record asking to be elected to an office a heartbeat away from the Presidency attempting to tell the press they have to play the game entirely on her terms.

    Can’t imagine why things went south for her.

  23. Ron Beasley says:

    Perry may well be the Republican nominee. He appeals to the Republican base also known as the Tea Party. So what is the Tea Party? A Frankenstein monster created by the likes of Lee Attwater and his heir apparent Karl Rove. The answer is yes. So what is the tea Party? It’s important to realize it’s nothing new. It’s white evangelical bigoted Christians who used to be members of the KKK. They are a part of a diminishing demographic and they know it and that’s what scares them. They are still fighting the civil war but even more important is they are fighting a religious war – they are not that much different than the Taliban. They are outraged by Sharia law but what they want is not that much different. Leviticus is Leviticus. The Taliban are guilty of less cherry picking but other than that there is not much difference.

  24. @jan:

    Personally, I think jan is a sock puppet for one of the other regulars here, although I’m not sure which one, yet.

  25. racehorse says:

    I am interested in mainly one thing with any candidate: ideas to get employment going again.
    We need someone who will get the government out of free enterprise so that it can start growing again. Too many burdensome regulations and high taxes.

  26. rodney dill says:

    …The left hasn’t had enough time to smear him yet.
    (notwithstanding the starts already made in the comments above)

  27. sam says:

    @Wayne:

    The far left hates Perry. That is another indication that he may be the Right candidate.

    Oh yeah, the right will just love him to pieces:

    Gov. Perry’s Cash Machine — and do see the article in the LA Times mentioned, Gov. Rick Perry’s big donors fare well in Texas

  28. rodney dill says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Doing something purely because your opponents hate it is just as dumb as doing things purely to appease you’re opponents.

    You’re mixing up cause and effect. He isn’t being selected or identified as the ‘right’ candidate because he’s being attacked. The left will attack the hardest on whomever seems to have the best chance against their candidate.
    (unsurprisingly that sentenced works just as with the word right in place of the word left, other than the right doesn’t have a single candidate at this point in time.)

  29. john personna says:

    You’re mixing up cause and effect. He isn’t being selected or identified as the ‘right’ candidate because he’s being attacked. The left will attack the hardest on whomever seems to have the best chance against their candidate.

    To paraphrase Vader, the paranoia is strong in this one.

    Newspapers used to write headlines to move papers, now the web is about getting the page clicks. Right now “crazy Perry” stories get the clicks. They are all over the top at Memeorandum. That is in part because Perry is the new thing, in part because it’s so easy to mine his books.

    It’s too bad really. Romney has been through this and survived it. And he is arguably the most sane of the leading Republicans.

    It’s a catch-22 I guess. Perry has proven his extreme right wing views to the base, but now has the difficult job of pretending to be moderate for the rest of us.

    It seems he committed too much to paper.

  30. rodney dill says:

    @john personna:

    To paraphrase Vader, the paranoia is strong in this one.

    It’s paranoia? Which top 5 or top 6 or (pick a number) GOP candidate isn’t the left attacking? It’s a jaded view of politics, perhaps, but hardly paranoia.

  31. john personna says:

    @rodney dill:

    Does the “left” even need to bother at this point? The news-web industry will fight for sensational page views and accomplish the same.

    … someone Time Inc. assigns to read old Perry books and translate them into page views doesn’t have to be right or left, they have a simple job to do.

  32. Hey Norm says:

    It’s funny that in Jan’s mind using a candidates actual words or actions to criticize them is throwing mud…but calling the President a socialist, or anti-american, or accusing him of lying about his birthplace is all perfectly fine.
    Again, the hypocrisy of these silly people with tea bags dangling from their hats is tiring.

  33. racehorse says:

    @Ron Beasley: The Tea Party certainly has its share of nuts, as do the Republicans and Democrats (Maxine Waters?). But most of Tea Party people are trying to elect people who will do what they say and not turn into something else when elected and spend our money to suit their own political ambitions. Then they just stay in office and make it a career. I am mainly talking about Republicans here. Racists? They are in both parties. The people are tired of career politicians and hacks who ignore the constitution.

  34. Hey Norm says:

    @ racehorse…
    I think you mean the parts of the Constitution you like.

  35. rodney dill says:

    @john personna:

    The news-web industry will fight for sensational page views and accomplish the same.

    … someone Time Inc. assigns to read old Perry books and translate them into page views doesn’t have to be right or left, they have a simple job to do.

    So reporters will just go blithely along reporting the story without out cant or bias toward either party? That’s a very naive view of politics. Political agendas will come into play as much as sensationalism for driving the news cycle.

    As far as why the left bothers, you are probably right. The current GOP candidates will do enough of a hatchet job on each other through the primaries.

  36. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Too many burdensome regulations and high taxes.

    Our taxes are lower than they have been in decades. Any lower and they will have to lay off congress. (Hey, wait a minute, not a half bad idea….)

    Just exactly which regulations do you want to get rid of? The ones ensuring clean water? Clean air? Product safety? Food safety?

    Please try to put a little more thought into your comments because if any of us wanted Republican talking points we can just go to Fox news.

  37. john personna says:

    @rodney dill:

    It’s really funny for you to deny profit motive comes first, while calling others leftists.

  38. rodney dill says:

    @john personna: Where am I denying the profit motive?

  39. john personna says:

    @rodney dill:

    I thought you were telling me these stories were pushed out for ideological reasons. If you only claim they are tilted, at the margin, that’s a smaller thing.

  40. rodney dill says:

    @john personna: Wrong, I didn’t state that either. Please play again.

  41. mattb says:

    @jan:

    The person left standing to face Obama will consequently be a tested and worthy opponent.

    Actually, this largely depends on the other Republican Primary candidates.

    Assuming that the nomination is still Romney’s to lose, it seems clear that if he wants it, he’s going to really have to fight for it. And Perry has a record for being a “down and dirty” fighter.*

    If Romney opts not to roll over, and Perry doesn’t quickly flame out, there’s a real chance that this is going to be an exceedingly nasty primary. As with Carter/Kennedy, the candidate who wins may emerge from the fight rather bloody (and with a significantly reduced war chest).

    * – I’m leaving Bachmann out of this equation only because both Perry and Romney are acting as if she doesn’t exist. Chances are she’s going to have to do something “really big” to get them to directly engage with her.

  42. john personna says:

    You’ve got me stumped, Rodney. I say this:

    … someone Time Inc. assigns to read old Perry books and translate them into page views doesn’t have to be right or left, they have a simple job to do.

    You respond with this:

    So reporters will just go blithely along reporting the story without out cant or bias toward either party? That’s a very naive view of politics. Political agendas will come into play as much as sensationalism for driving the news cycle.

    But then back away from that either being about where the stories come from, nor a claim about their spin.

    You’re funny. I have a “naive view of politics,” because I see a click-driven web industry in action. Reporters don’t go “blithely along,” they are judged by clicks, and knowing that, will shoot for them.

  43. racehorse says:

    @Boyd: When Mayor Bloomberg announces that he is a candidate.