Perry Surges to Second Place in Two National Polls

Perry Surges to Second Place in Two National Polls

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - July 22, 2011

With speculation mounting as to whether Rick Perry will make a White House run, two national polls released Friday morning show the Texas governor within close reach of front-runner Mitt Romney.

The Massachusetts governor edges Perry by 16 percent to 14 percent, in a CNN/ORC International survey and by 17 percent to 14 percent in a Fox News poll. The CNN survey shows an increased enthusiasm for a Perry presidential bid. In May, only 40 percent of Republican respondents wanted him to jump into the candidate pool, a number that's now risen to 50 percent. Fifty-five percent want former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to run and 54 percent want former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani to enter the race, but Perry has higher net support (the difference between those who want him to run and those who don't) for the GOP nod.

Though Perry hasn't announced his intentions, he has been polling toward the top of the ballot in several national polls, usually arriving in third or fourth place. Some of his supporters have created a website to cultivate buzz for the governor and some big name backers will meet in Austin next week to talk campaign finance. He is scheduled to headline an event in South Carolina next month and in New Hampshire in October, two key early voting states.

But the Texan doesn't yet appear to be a strong candidate against Barack Obama. In a head-to-head matchup, the Fox News poll found the president tops Perry, 47 percent to 37 percent. Romney has been inching closer to Obama since the beginning of the year, but still trails, 47 percent to 41 percent. Romney trumps the president by six percentage points among independents, a key swing electorate. Obama edges Perry among this voting block by 10 percentage points.

The standing of the remaining candidates on the ballot varies in each poll. In the CNN survey, Giuliani, who has been flirting recently with a second presidential run, and Palin are tied for third with 13 percent support. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann is a close fourth with 12 percent support among Republicans. Behind her is Texas Rep. Ron Paul with 8 percent; businessman Herman Cain with 6 percent; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, 4 percent; and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, 3 percent. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum edges former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, 2 percent to 1 percent. Perry wins a plurality (20 percent) of male Republicans and of tea party supporters (22 percent). Bachmann comes closest to Perry among tea partiers with 17 percent.

In Perry's absence, Bachmann and Palin move to a second place tie with 15 percent and Giuliani comes in third, picking up one percentage point.

In the Fox News survey, Bachmann rounds out the top three with 10 percent and Giuliani, Paul and Palin (a paid Fox News contributor) tie for fourth with 9 percent support among Republican primary voters. Cain receives 5 percent, Gingrich, 4 percent and Pawlenty and Santorum tie for last place with 2 percent. Huntsman doesn't appear on this ballot. In direct hypothetical matchups, the president edges Bachmann by 11 points, Cain by 13 points, and Pawlenty by 18 points.

The CNN/ORC International poll surveyed 455 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents July 18-20 with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. The Fox News survey was conducted jointly by Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) July 18-19. It polled 904 registered voters with a margin of error of plus or minus three 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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