Texas Governor Rick Perry, the new face in the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, has jumped to a double-digit lead over Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann with the other announced candidates trailing even further behind.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Republican Primary voters, taken Monday night, finds Perry with 29% support. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who ran unsuccessfully for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008, earns 18% of the vote, while Bachmann, the Minnesota congresswoman who won the high-profile Ames Straw Poll in Iowa on Saturday, picks up 13%.
Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who was a close second to Bachmann on Saturday, has the support of nine percent (9%) of Likely Primary Voters, followed by Georgia businessman Herman Cain at six percent (6%) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with five percent (5%). Rick Santorum, former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, and ex-Utah Governor Jon Huntsman each get one percent (1%) support, while Michigan Congressman Thaddeus McCotter comes in statistically at zero.
Sixteen percent (16%) of primary voters remain undecided.
Still, this marks a significant jump in support for Perry, who officially entered the race on Saturday although his candidacy had been rumored for weeks. Just over two weeks ago, a survey of likely primary voters found Romney with 22% support, closely followed by Perry at 18% and Bachman with 16% of the vote.
“Governor Perry is enjoying a bounce from entering the race at precisely the right time”, said Scott Rasmussen. “Now the difficult part begins for the new frontrunner. It’s much easier winning support when people are hoping you will get in the race, than retaining support when you are the frontrunner.”
Seventy percent (70%) of primary voters continue to agree with Romney’s assertion at a debate in June that any one of the Republican candidates would make a better president that Barack Obama. Twenty percent (20%) disagree.
Perry captures 39% of the vote among GOP primary voters who say they are members of the Tea Party, with Bachmann a distant second with 21% support from this group. Perry barely leads Romney among non-Tea Party members 27% to 24%, but this marks a interesting change from the previous survey when Romney held a double-digit lead over Perry among these voters.
Sixty-nine percent (69%) of primary voters hold a favorable opinion of Perry, with 38% Very Favorable. Bachmann is viewed favorably by 71%, with 32% who share a Very Favorable regard for her.
Romney has slightly higher overall favorable rating – 77% – than Perry and Bachmann, but there’s less enthusiasm in his support. Only 21% hold a Very Favorable opinion of him.
Roughly one-in-five hold an unfavorable view of the three front-runners.
Paul, who emerged as a Cinderella of sorts from the Saturday straw poll, is viewed favorably by 43% and unfavorably by 45%. Gingrich is in a similar position with favorables of 48% and unfavorables of 43%.
For Cain, Santorum, Huntsman and McCotter, name recognition is still a problem, with at least one-in-four primary voters still not aware of them enough to venture any kind of opinion.
A generic Republican continues to lead President Obama in a hypothetical 2012 election matchup.