Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney appear to be in a close race for South Carolina's first-in-the-South presidential primary, according to a poll released Tuesday.
The Winthrop Poll shows Perry had polled 30 percent of Republican voters while Romney was at 27 percent. That's within the 4 percentage-point margin of sampling error for the 596 GOP or Republican-leaning voters called between Sept. 11 and Sept. 18.
The poll showed 12 percent of the Republicans surveyed were undecided in the Feb. 28 contest.
Businessman Herman Cain had 7 percent, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin 6 percent and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich 5 percent.
Reps. Michelle Bachmann and Ron Paul, both tea party favorites, were at 4 percent.
The poll's larger sample of 1,552 registered voters, including Republicans, Democrats and independents, didn't like the nation's leadership or direction.
In that group 71 percent said the nation was on the wrong track, with nearly all Republicans holding that view. A fifth felt the nation was on the right track, a view shared by about half of the Democrats.
The poll showed 83 percent of voters disapproved of the way Congress is handling its job. That view was shared by more than three of four Republicans and Democrats.
Meanwhile, half the voters said they disapprove of Democratic President Barack Obama's handling of his job.
Responses for the larger group of voters had a margin of sampling error of 2.5 percentage points.