Tea Party Supporters Rallying Behind Rick Perry,

Rick Perry's rise in the polls can be traced to factors that threaten both Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann

One of the reasons for Rick Perry’s surprisingly fast rise in the polls, both nationally and in states like Iowa, is the fact that Tea Party supporters seems to be gravitating toward his campaign rather substantially:

Rick Perry’s candidacy has attracted strong initial support from Republicans who identify themselves as supporters of the Tea Party movement. Perry leads by 21 percentage points over the closest contenders among this group, Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann. Among Republicans who say they do not support the Tea Party movement, Romney and Perry are essentially tied.

The poll finds that 58% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents identify themselves as supporters of the Tea Party movement, with 36% saying they do not consider themselves supporters. Included among the group of Tea Party supporters is a smaller group — representing 12% of Republicans — who say they are “strong” supporters of the movement. Among this smaller group, Perry’s lead is even greater, 46% to 16%, over Bachmann, with all other candidates in single digits.

In Gallup’s July measurement of Republicans’ nomination preferences, before Perry officially entered the race, Romney held a slight edge over Bachmann among Tea Party supporters, 29% to 23%. Romney led Paul by 25% to 16% among nonsupporters.

Here’s the chart:

Perhaps most interesting, though, is the fact that Perry is gaining ground not only with voters who place the traditional Tea Party issues at the top of their priority list, he’s also gaining ground among the economy/business voters that Romney has basically had to himself for most of the year:

Given a choice of four sets of issues, Republicans are most likely to say business and economy (38%) and government power and spending (36%) are the most important to them. Fewer Republicans rank social issues and moral values (15%) and national security and foreign policy (9%) as their top issues.

Perry, not surprisingly given his lead among Tea Party supporters, is the preferred candidate among Republicans who identify “government spending and power” as the set of issues most important to them. Perry is the top choice of 31% of these Republicans, with Romney (17%), Paul (13%), and Bachmann (12%) vying for second place.

But Perry also has a slight edge over Romney, 25% to 19%, among Republicans who say business and the economy is their top issue. Romney, a wealthy businessman, has argued his business credentials make him better suited to solve the economic problems facing the country than candidates who lack significant private-sector experience.

This is troublesome news for Romney, who has based much of his campaign to date on projecting himself as the candidate with business experience who can do something about the economy. It worked for a long time largely because there wasn’t anyone in the race who could come close to challenging him on government and business experience, and because most of the people who came close (Cain, Bachmann, etc) have problems of their own that made any serious challenge to Romney difficult. Perry suffers from none of those problems. With ten years as Governor of one of the fastest growing states in the Union, he has more executive experience than anyone else in the race. Combine that with his appeal to the Tea Party, and you’ve got a formidable challenger to Romney who, after all, actually only spent four years as Governor of Massachusetts.

Charles Krauthammer discussed the Perry v. Romney dynamic last night on Fox News Channel, and argued that Perry’s campaign is revealing Romney’s entire campaign to have been a paper tiger:

It’s not just Romney who should be worried, though. As Allahpundit points out, the rise of Rick Perry is very bad news for Michele Bachmann:

These are national numbers, but if the tea-party spread here looks the same in Iowa, Bachmann is finished. I’m shocked that she can’t do better than tie Romney among her own ostensible core constituency, and among non-tea-partiers, she clocks in at just six percent. If she comes in second in Iowa, she might as well drop out.

In that regard, David Weigel compares polling from New Hampshire and Iowa before and after the Ames Straw Poll, and finds that Bachmann has remained essentially stagnant while Perry has surged forward. What this suggests is that while Bachmann, like Palin, has a core group of supporters who will rally around her, the broader universe of Tea Party supporters and social conservatives were only backing her because she was the person challenging Romney. Now that Perry, who has more experience and less of a proclivity for making bizarre statements, is in the race they are willing to leave Bachmann behind and back a horse that actually has a chance of winning. If that continues, then Bachmann is likely to fade into irrelevance the same way that Herman Cain did.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held 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 contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Herb says:

    This seems like just the thing that will win Perry the nomination….

    And cost him the election.

  2. Tano says:

    Yes, I always believed that Romney would not be able to sustain a lead in this kind of a political environment (in the GOP). The healthcare issue alone would doom him, before even considering his flip-floppery and other examples of a less than dogmatic persona.

    This was always fated to be a nomination won by the activists, the tea partiers, so long as they could find a plausible candidate (unlike Bachmann, Cain or Palin). Perry does seem to fit the bill.

    I would not be surprised to see him win the nomination and then ask Romney onto the ticket – taking a page from Reagan with George H W. The 1980 analogy is just too intoxicating for the Republicans to ignore, no matter how flawed the comparison really is.

  3. Mr. Prosser says:

    @Tano: Do you think Romney would accept a VP offer? I’m not sure he would.

  4. Ben Wolf says:

    So much for the claims Tea Party voters are primarily concerned with economics and the federal debt. If they were they’d be supporting Ron Paul, but shilling for Perry shows they’re a bunch of coked up Dominionists itching for Jesus to put the hurt on sinners.

  5. @Ben Wolf:

    If they were they’d be supporting Ron Paul

    Indeed, the fact that Ron Paul (who as John Stewart accurately noted is essentially patient zero for that philosophy) is less popular with the Tea Party than the rest of the party tells you pretty much everything you need to know about their sincerity.

  6. Tim H. says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I agree about Ron Paul. Paul is more of a wonkish individual rather than a Fire & Brimstone guy. Which is what the teabaggers love. Ron Paul has criticized the FED for years and advocates aboloshing the FED. Yet Paul said Perry makes him look like a moderate, having never accused the FED chairman of being treasonous.

  7. Tsar Nicholas II says:

    Barring a bimbo eruption or some type of similar scandal I suspect not only that Perry will be the nominee but that he’ll have it wrapped up by March.

    Romney IMO simply won’t be able to overcome the Mormon issue, especially with Iowa and South Carolina being two of the key early states. Bachmann is not a serious candidate outside of the Internet demographic. As soon as the contest moves to the higher-population jurisdictions her star quickly will go supernova.

    Of course none of the other remaining candidates are serious in any way, shape or form

  8. WR says:

    Of course the Tea Partiers are rallying around Perry. They are searching for the stupidest possible candidate, and they believe they’ve finally found someone dumber and more ignorant that Bachmann. He’ll be fine unless a tree stump enters the race — then they’ll all flock around the stump.

  9. Nightoatmeal says:

    Aren’t we getting a little bit ahead of ourselves giving Perry the nomination when he hasn’t even appeared in a debate yet? Plenty of time for him to say something insane or make a mistake. A lot of these numbers seem the result of love of the new guy rather than loving him. You can ask President Thompson if you don’t believe me.

  10. TruthRocks/Temerity4u says:

    @Ben Wolf: @Ben Wolf:

    Anti-American Theocrats, hanging on to the delusion that their “time has finally come” to take over America and all it’s people, as biblically mandated. God, I wish Perry and his state of Texas had actually seceded from the union, as he so desperately wanted to.

  11. @Stormy Dragon: They’re not insincere. They’re just ignorant. I’d like to see the numbers on the education level of the average tea party supporter compared to the rest of the electorate. I’m willing to bet that they come in low.

  12. liberty60 says:

    Which also puts the lie to Tea Partyers claims that they never loved GWB, given how Perry is the long lost soulmate to W.
    Were he to become President expect the alleged “fiscal conservatives” to vanish on Jan 20 2013.

  13. Major Karma says:

    If the Tea Party is endorsing this Globalist Puppet Rick Perry, this Al Gore Campaign Manager; this liar, cheat and thieve, my family and I will withdraw from the Tea Party.