Romney Holds Double-Digit Lead in National Poll

Romney Holds Double-Digit Lead in National Poll

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - July 19, 2011

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney continues to lead the Republican presidential field, according to a new national survey. But Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann shot to second place, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who hasn't even announced a bid, finds himself in third.

Romney leads Bachmann, 30 percent to 16 percent, in the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. The same survey taken a month ago had Bachmann running at just 3 percent. However, that poll was taken before she announced her candidacy in late June.

Perry received 11 percent support from GOP voters in the poll. Though the Texas governor is still deciding whether to run for president, supporters have started to lay the groundwork in the first caucus state of Iowa.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul comes in behind Perry with 9 percent; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich follows with 8 percent; businessman Herman Cain has 5 percent; and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has 3 percent. Former Govs. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Jon Huntsman of Utah tied with just 2 percent support. Both candidates had been seen as potential serious challengers to Romney earlier in the campaign but have so far failed to gain traction in the polls. Pawlenty, who has his sights set on the Aug. 13 Ames Straw Poll, slipped two points from June and four points since April.

Romney holds a 24 percent to 20 percent lead among tea party supporters, a group Bachmann championed in the 2010 elections and nodded to in her campaign kickoff speech. She leads Romney among the most conservative Republican voters, however, by a two-point margin.

Despite Bachmann's national ballot surge, President Obama leads the congresswoman, 50 percent to 35 percent, in a hypothetical head-to-head general election matchup. He also holds a 48 percent to 41 percent edge over Romney. In a matchup with a generic Republican candidate, 42 percent of voters say they would support the president while 39 percent say they would back the Republican.

Though the president currently leads his potential GOP rivals, he faces some headwinds as the 2012 election approaches. His approval rating slid slightly under water in the past month: 47 percent approve of the job he is doing as president while 48 percent disapprove. (In June, 49 percent approved and 46 percent disapproved.) When it comes to Obama's stewardship of the economy, however, the margin is significantly greater: 43 percent approve of the way he is handling the economy while 54 percent disapprove.

Those surveyed were increasingly pessimistic about the direction of the country: 67 percent think things are on the wrong track (up from 62 percent last month) while 25 percent say the nation if heading in the right direction. Forty-one percent say the economy will stay the same during the next year, while 31 percent say it will get worse, and 26 percent think it will get better.

The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll surveyed 1,000 adults from July 14 to 17. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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