In a new national Public Policy Poll released today, Rep. Michele Bachmann has pulled ahead of Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. The new poll shows Bachmann with 21 percent of support while Romney raked in 20 percent among primary voters. Rick Perry (who has not officially entered the race) came in third with 12 percent with Herman Cain trailing close behind at 11 percent.
Bachmann's rise has been fueled by her appeal to voters on the far right- and their skepticism about Romney. Romney has the lead with centrist Republicans (23-17) and with those defining themselves as only somewhat right of center (24-17). But among 'very conservative' voters only 48% have a positive opinion of Romney to 34% who view him negatively, weak numbers, and Bachmann's capitalizing on that with a 26-15 lead over Romney, who's in third place with that group of voters.
The losers this time around are the duo of Pawlenty and Huntsman. Pawlenty appeared to be finally getting some momentum after Mike Huckabee declined to make the race and did as well as 13% in a national poll we conducted in late May. Since then though he's declined to 9% and now 5% over the course of our last two surveys- not a good trajectory. Meanwhile Huntsman's official entry to the race hasn't done anything for him- he's still stuck at the same 2-3% level of support that he's shown in most of our polling both at the national and state levels.
These numbers also show potential signs of trouble ahead for Romney. Only 17% of Republican voters say they'd be willing to vote for someone who had supported an individual health insurance mandate at the state level, compared to 66% who say they would not be willing to support such a candidate. The funny thing about that is Romney's getting 17% right now with that latter group of voters and his favorability with them is 49/33. Your average primary voter isn't tuned in enough to the race right now to know the specifics of Romney's record.