Rick Perry: Frontrunner

Posted: Aug 24, 2011 5:04 PM

Texas Governor Rick Perry has vaulted into the lead in the GOP presidential race, outpacing his closest challenger, Mitt Romney, by double digits in three new polls.  The trend is crystal clear: Rick Perry is your new frontrunner.

Gallup just released their first poll of the Republican field since Texas Gov. Rick Perry forrmally announced he was running for president, and it shows the exact same thing the only other two polls taken after Perry's entrance have shown: Perry has a double-digit lead on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Gallup's poll, taken August 17th through the 21st, has Perry up 12 points on Romney 29-17 percent. A Rasmussen poll conducted August 15th has Perry up 11 points, 29-18 percent. And a August 18th through the 21st Public Policy Polling poll has Perry up by 13 points 33-20 percent.  Real Clear Politics 2012 Republican Presidential Nomination polling average still has Romney up 1.8 points, but they have not factored in the PPP or Gallup polls and rely mostly on polls taken before Perry entered the race.

Perry's surge must worry Michele Bachmann, whose early summer bubble appears to be deflating.  A separate PPP poll shows Perry ahead in Iowa, which is a must-win state for Bachmann if she has even a prayer of competing for the nomination:

Polled for the first time here, Perry leads with 22% over Romney’s 19%, Bachmann’s 18%, Paul’s 16%, Herman Cain’s 7%, Newt Gingrich’s and Rick Santorum’s 5%, and Jon Huntsman’s 3%. Santorum had not been polled here before either.

If Sarah Palin jumps into the race, she would harm Bachmann and Paul but hardly makes a dent in Romney’s or Perry’s support. Perry would still lead with 21% over Romney’s 18%, Bachmann’s 15%, Paul’s 12%, and Palin’s 10%.

Team Romney must also a tad nervous, particularly in light of this piece of analysis from National Journal:

The Gallup results show Perry displaying broad reach across the party, with appeal that, for now at least, transcends lines of income and education. Those results underscore Perry's potential, as a staunch social conservative with a strong economic story in Texas, to build a primary coalition that bridges the divide between upscale, managerial Republicans and the party's more populist and evangelical blue-collar wing.

According to figures provided to National Journal by Gallup, Perry leads Romney not only among Republican voters without a college education -- a group always expected to be responsive to Perry's anti-government and culturally-conservative arguments-but also among GOP voters with at least a four year college degree. That group had been Romney's strongest in earlier polling, offsetting his difficulty among working-class Republicans. In 2008, the GOP primary electorate split almost exactly in half between voters with and without a college degree.

Romney's camp has reportedly adopted a "don't panic" mentality vis-a-vis Perry's robust roll-out.  Probably a wise long-view move.