Tea party boosts Perry to top of GOP polls
Texas Governor Rick Perry has vaulted into the lead among Republicans vying for the nomination to oppose President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election bid, according to several new polls. And he may have the Tea Party to thank for it.
A CNN/ORC International poll released Monday showed Perry strongly favored by Republicans and independent voters who lean Republican. Among the declared candidates, Perry has 32 percent support, followed by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney at 18 percent, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann at 12 percent, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 7 percent, Texas Congressman Ron Paul at 6 percent and the rest of the field in the low single digits.
This could reflect shifting allegiances among Tea Party supporters, according to Gallup, which released its own poll last week also showing that Perry had replaced Romney as the early front-runner.
Gallup said Perry leads by 21 percentage points over Romney and Bachmann, his closest contenders, although Perry and Romney are essentially tied among survey respondents who do not support the Tea Party.
“Perry has immediately become the preferred Republican nomination candidate of Tea Party movement supporters and, by extension, those who view government spending and power as the most important issue. He also demonstrates strong appeal to moral values voters, and is competitive with Romney among Republicans rating business and the economy as the most important issue,” Gallup said.
In July, 29 percent of Tea Partiers said Romney was their top choice, and 23 percent picked Bachmann.
Chris Cillizza, who writes The Washington Post’s “The Fix” blog, said the Gallup data suggest that the Tea Party has considerable power within the Republican party.
“Perry has, at least for the moment, coalesced the various elements of tea party support behind his candidacy — providing himself with a support base that has propelled him to the top of the field,” Cillizza wrote, although he noted that Perry is also relatively strong among non-Tea Party supporters, which would be the key to his campaign.
Romney leads among non-Tea Party supporters, but by just 23 percent to 20 percent for Perry. Paul is third, at 16 percent.
Photo credit: REUTERS/Brian Snyder (Perry campaigning in New Hampshire)