Opinion: Rick Perry broadens national lead over Romney, Bachmann, Palin


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Fourteen days after announcing his Republican presidential candidacy, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has expanded his lead in a new national poll, while both Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin slide slightly and Michele Bachmann is in single digits.

A new CNN/ORC International Poll of Republicans out today shows Perry now holds the support of more than one-in-four (27%), up significantly from the 15% he had before his Aug. 13 announcement at the Redstate Gathering of conservative writers in South Carolina.


Romney, who had 17% then, now has 14%. Sarah Palin, who’s expected to make her candidacy plans or lack thereof known at an Iowa tea party rally Saturday, has slipped from 12% to 10%.

Bachmann, the Iowa native and early tea party favorite, has the support of 9%, down from 12% in mid-July. The congresswoman’s win at the Ames Straw Poll seems to have provided a short-lived bump.

In a poll that removes Palin and non-candidate Rudy Giuliani from the race, Perry’s support jumps to 32% and Romney’s to 18%.

The latest poll numbers reveal the tectonic shifts caused by Perry’s energetic entry as the nation’s longest-serving governor. Perry’s support is strongest among tea party supporters but crosses a broad swath of the GOP and appears to be drawing support away from Bachmann and even perennial candidate Ron Paul.

The numbers also highlight the potential dangers of Romney’s strategy so far of focusing heavily on New Hampshire and attacking President Obama while largely ceding Iowa and South Carolina to other GOP hopefuls.

His strategy is based on the belief that, in the end, Republican primary voters will eschew the excitement of the moment and choose someone, anyone, they believe can defeat the Democratic incumbent on Nov. 6, 2012.


The new CNN/ORC Pollalso shows that despite his dedicated disciples’ determination, Paul’s national standing has faded by half from early August, from 12% down to 6%.

A recent Gallup Poll of Republicans found a similar commanding lead for the Texan with a broad base of support among GOP incomes, gender and educations. And a new Rasmussen Reports survey found 38% of likely U.S. voters agree with Perry’s professed goal of making Washington as inconsequential as possible in Americans’ lives.

Even further changes in allegiance are likely in coming days as Labor Day and the fall campaign season arrive.

In addition to Palin’s long-teased decision Saturday, this weekend features a tea party candidate forum in South Carolina run by Sen. Jim DeMint where for the first time Perry will mix it up with GOP competitors like Bachmann and persistent critic and fellow Texan Paul. Romney is taking a pass on that event.

Then comes a flurry of debates including one at the Reagan Presidential Library on Sept. 7 and another in Tampa, Fla.

The same CNN/ORC poll found that fewer that three out of four Democrats favor Obama’s renomination. The 72% who do is statistically about the same as the 70% who said that in early August but down from the 81% who liked that idea in early June. Likewise, those favoring a different Democrat as presidential nominee has surged from 18% in June to 27%.



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-- Andrew Malcolm

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Credits: Jim Young / Reuters; Andrew Malcolm/Los Angeles Times