A poll released this week by Bloomberg shows Texas Governor Rick Perry with a small lead (26-22) over former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, with no other candidate preferred by even 10 percent of Republicans. Perry, though, is viewed favorably by only three in ten Americans while being viewed unfavorably by four in ten. Perry, at this point, trails Obama 49-40 among all voters, according to the poll.
A second poll out this week, from Public Policy Polling, shows Perry leading Romney by a much larger margin, 31-18, but also shows his support among likely Republican primary voters to be falling.
Republicans give Rick Perry frontrunner status in their party’s presidential primary race even as warning signs flash over his ability to win support in the general election.
The Texas governor is the preferred choice of 26 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents in a Bloomberg National Poll conducted Sept. 9-12. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney places second at 22 percent, while all of the other Republican candidates get less than 10 percent.
In a hypothetical general election matchup, Perry trails President Barack Obama among the poll’s entire sample, 49 percent to 40 percent, about twice the deficit for Romney. Perry also confronts negative reactions from Americans disinclined to vote for a candidate expressing the skepticism he has about the viability of Social Security, evolution science and whether humans contribute to climate change.
“Science is an integral part of our culture,” said Danyelle Lowers, 27, a student at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, who considers herself an independent voter. “To have such a general disregard for the sciences is rather terrifying.”
Still, positions and statements that could hurt Perry in a faceoff with Obama work to his advantage with his most immediate audience — Republican primary voters.
Perry’s skepticism on climate change and evolution, while playing well in the primaries could hurt him in a general election, the polls showed.
Forty-five percent of Americans say they’d be less inclined to support a candidate who says science isn’t settled on whether human activity contributes to global warming, while 25 percent said it would make them more likely to back that candidate. Half said they would be turned off by a candidate who says evolution remains an unproven theory, with 20 percent saying they’d be more inclined to support someone who holds that view.
The PPP poll also shows double digit support for Ron Paul at 11 percent and Newt Gingrich at 10 percent.
In a sense these numbers are good news for both Perry and Romney. They’re obviously good for Perry in that he’s been able to maintain a double digit lead as the attacks have begun flying at him. But they’re also good news for Romney because after a 2 month period of surging support for Perry his momentum has finally stopped. Certainly he’s in a very strong position and he’ll win the nomination if he can maintain it, but his support isn’t still surging the way it had been poll after poll after poll.
Perry, though, has strong support among people whose views are outside the mainstream. While that may carry him to the nomination, it will make 2012 a tricky road for Republicans:
Romney leads Perry 23-18 among GOP voters who believe in global warming…but that’s only 27% of them. With the 62% who don’t believe in it Perry’s up 38-14. One interesting note on those numbers- Perry’s favorability with Republicans who believe in global warming is 37/50. Are those folks going to vote for him in the general election if he ends up as the nominee?
With Republicans who don’t think Barack Obama is a Socialist, Romney leads Perry 26-13…but with the 71% who do think Obama is a Socialist, Perry is ahead 35-16.
The good news is pouring in for Republicans right now. But if there’s a dark cloud ahead it’s the possibility of ending up with a nominee who’s gone so far outside the mainstream to win over Republican primary voters that he can’t win the center against Obama. It’s something to keep an eye on.