Perry Surges to Top of GOP Field in Colorado, N.C.

Perry Surges to Top of GOP Field in Colorado, N.C.

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - August 16, 2011

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who officially entered the Republican presidential race on Saturday, has moved into a tie at the top of the GOP field in Colorado and North Carolina, according to a survey released Monday by Public Policy Polling (D).

In Colorado, Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney both attract 20 percent support from usual GOP primary voters. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who won the Ames Straw Poll this past weekend, places a distant second with 12 percent, and former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has 11 percent support. Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who placed a close second in Ames, attracts 8 percent support, followed by businessman Herman Cain (7 percent) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (6 percent). Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who dropped out of the race on Sunday after placing third in Ames, attracts 3 percent support, and former Utah Gov. Job Huntsman rounds out the field with 2 percent. Without Palin in the race, Romney holds a slight 22 percent to 21 percent edge over Perry while Bachmann earns 15 percent support.

Palin still hasn't said whether she will toss her hat into the ring, but her appearance at the Iowa State Fair last week stirred speculation. She has the highest favorability rating of the candidates in Colorado, with a net of 32 percent compared to Perry’s 26 percent, Bachmann’s 19 percent and Romney’s 18 percent. But 38 percent said they did not know enough about Perry to decide whether they like him yet.

In North Carolina, the PPP poll shows Palin, Perry and Romney in a three-way tie at 17 percent. Cain wins 11 percent support, and Gingrich attracts 10 percent. As in Colorado, Palin has the highest net favorability rating, with 34 percent. Perry earns a net of 24 percent, Bachmann, 15, and Romney, 11. In North Carolina, 43 percent say they don’t know enough to make a judgment of Perry. 

In Palin's absence, Perry ties Bachmann for the lead. Both candidates, who appeal to and are competing for conservatives and Tea Party voters, receive 17 percent support. Romney sits in second with 16 percent, down seven points since a PPP poll released in the state last month. Gingrich and Paul tie with 11 percent, and Cain receives 9 percent. Pawlenty and Huntsman garner just 4 percent and 2 percent, respectively.

In both states, Romney leads among moderates while Perry edges Romney and Bachmann among the most conservative voters. In Colorado, Perry receives a plurality (27 percent) of support from those who identify themselves as “very conservative.” Romney attracts 18 percent and Bachmann 17 percent of this group. In North Carolina, Perry’s lead is much narrower. He garners 19 percent while Bachmann earns 18 percent, and Romney and Cain tie with 12 percent.

For this poll, PPP surveyed 400 North Carolina Republican primary voters from Aug. 4-7. The survey in this state has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent. PPP surveyed 314 Colorado GOP primary voters during the same time period. That poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.5 percent. 

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

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