Perry Leads GOP Rivals in New Florida Poll

Perry Leads GOP Rivals in New Florida Poll

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - September 22, 2011

As the GOP White House hopefuls prepare to face off in a debate tonight in Orlando, a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday morning finds Texas Gov. Rick Perry six points ahead of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, 28 percent to 22 percent, in the Sunshine State.

Perry and Romney are the only two candidates to poll in the double digits. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin attracts 8 percent of the support despite not being an official candidate. Businessman Herman Cain and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich tie with 7 percent. Texas Rep. Ron Paul earns 6 percent, and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann garners 5 percent. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum tie at the bottom of the ballot with 2 percent support.

If Palin doesn't run, Perry picks up 3 percentage points while Romney's numbers remain the same. Gingrich and Cain each pick up one point and Bachmann picks up two.

In a head-to-head matchup, Perry beats Romney, 46 percent to 38 percent. The Texas governor leads, 55 percent to 35 percent, among those who identify with the Tea Party movement, and 50 percent to 36 percent among Republican men. Women are split between the two -- 42 percent back Perry, and 41 percent support Romney.

In hypothetical general election matchups, Romney leads President Obama, 47 percent to 40 percent, while Perry trails the president by a slim two-point margin, 44 percent to 42 percent. Romney holds a nine-point lead over the president among independents while Perry trails among this group by six points.

Florida voters give President Obama his worst approval rating yet in the state he won by a narrow three-point margin in 2008, and most don’t want to send him back to the Washington for a second term. Only 39 percent approve of his job performance while 57 percent disapprove. And by a 53 percent to 41 percent margin, voters say Obama does not deserve a second term in office.

Voters are more positive about their senior senator, Democrat Bill Nelson, who is up for re-election this cycle. By a 44 percent to 33 percent margin, voters want to send him back to Capitol Hill for a third term, and he leads a generic GOP challenger by nine points.

Several Republicans are competing to replace him, but no one has been able to break away from the pack yet. Former Sen. George LeMieux leads the GOP primary field with 17 percent support. Businessman Mike McCalister attracts 11 percent, and former state House Speaker Adam Hasner and former Ruth's Chris Steak House CEO Craig Miller tie with 5 percent.

Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,007 registered voters, including 374 Republicans, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. The sampling error for Republicans is plus or minus 5.1 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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