Texas Governor Rick Perry has had an impressive start in his bid to win the 2012 Republican presidential nomination and, ultimately, the presidential race itself. In the first major poll since his announcement that he was indeed running, Rasmussen Reports finds Perry bolting into first place and a double-digit lead over his nearest rival, former front-runner Mitt Romney. The poll shows Perry with 29%, Romney 18%, and Michelle Bachmann in third with 13%. The rest of the field is far behind.
Already facing media scrutiny and criticism for comments about the Treasury Department and President Obama’s economic plans, Perry is sure to receive a lot of attention in the coming months, no doubt much of it unfavorable. In a speculative article with accompanying poll two months ago, the Austin American-Statesman (no fan of Perry’s) pointed out that while Perry enjoyed a healthy majority approval for his job as governor, support for a possible presidential run remained in the single digits. Of course, Perry was still saying at that point he probably wouldn’t run, so there was much less reason for voters to select him.
Bruce Buchanan, a University of Texas government professor, speculated in the same article that should Perry declare, his numbers would rise, but he doubted they would rise enough to propel Perry to front-runner status.
But the governor did declare, and his poll numbers did go up dramatically. An immediate effect has been that Tim Pawlenty has dropped out of the race; this was at least in part owing to his poor showing in Iowa, but certainly Perry’s almost simultaneous entry into the race was a factor as well. If Perry does not falter, it seems likely others in the race will begin dropping out.
There is much speculation that Governor Perry will not play well in other states, that his Texan bravado will turn off voters in more liberal states like California and New York. It remains to be seen how far President Obama’s support will have fallen off in those places and others by the time of the election. Recent polls show his support dropping among even among what were formerly his most loyal supporters, such as liberals and Democrats. The Congressional Black Caucus criticized him for not doing more about black unemployment. And of course the economy in general has turned many ‘undecided’ voters against him.
And there is further speculation about who will wind up at the top of the Republican ticket and who will get the second spot. Many suggest a Romney/Perry ticket, though if his numbers hold up, it seems unlikely Perry would agree to such an arrangement. Others say a Perry/Bachmann ticket is more likely.