Perry Maintains Lead Over GOP Field

Perry Maintains Lead Over GOP Field

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - September 26, 2011

A new national survey taken after last week's Republican presidential debate, in which Rick Perry came under heavy attack from his rivals, shows the Texas governor still on top of the field.

Perry was widely criticized for his debate performance in Orlando last Thursday but still attracts 28 percent of support from Republicans, down two points since earlier this month, according to a CNN/ORC International poll released Monday. His chief rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, garners 21 percent support, picking up three points since early September. Voters are split, 47 percent to 47 percent, on whether Perry has the personality and leadership qualities to be president, while 62 percent to 34 percent think Romney is qualified on those criteria.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich rounds out the top three with 10 percent. Businessman Herman Cain, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Texas Rep. Ron Paul each attracts 7 percent. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who has dropped in the polls in the last month, comes in toward the bottom of the ballot with 4 percent. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum gets 3 percent, and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman receives just 1 percent.

In a hypothetical head-to-head general election matchup, Romney runs closer to President Obama than his rivals. He trails the president by just one percentage point, garnering 48 percent support from registered voters to the president's 49 percent. Perry trails Obama, 51 percent to 46 percent. Paul trails, 51 percent to 47 percent. The president leads Bachmann, 54 percent to 42 percent, and Palin, 58 percent to 37 percent.

Though he leads his Republicans challengers, Obama’s approval ratings are under water: 45 percent think he is doing a fine job as president while 52 percent disapprove. However, his approval rating has ticked up two points since earlier this month and his disapproval rating has gone down three points. Still, his approval score was 10 points higher four months ago.

Despite his low numbers, 58 percent of respondents say Obama has the personality and leadership qualities they think a president should have, while 41 percent disagree. Additionally, his favorability ratings are more positive: 53 percent like him while 45 percent view him unfavorably. But 52 percent disagree with the president on issues that matter most to them, while 46 percent agree.

For this poll, ORC International surveyed 1,010 adults, including 917 registered voters from Sept. 23-25. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points. The sampling error for the 447 Republican surveyed is plus or minus 4.5 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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