Perry takes 1st place in poll of likely GOP primary voters

Posted Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2011

By Dave Montgomery

AUSTIN -- Just days after announcing his candidacy, Gov. Rick Perry has jumped into first place in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, grabbing the lead from former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports poll.

Perry was the favorite of 29 percent of the poll respondents. Romney came in second with 18 percent. And Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, winner of Iowa's straw poll Saturday, was third with 13 percent. Rep. Ron Paul of Lake Jackson, a close second in the straw poll, was fourth in the Rasmussen survey with 9 percent.

After entering the race Saturday with a speech to conservative bloggers in Charleston, S.C., Perry has been campaigning vigorously in Iowa, bashing President Barack Obama's policies and touting Texas' nation-leading job creation.

Although 16 percent of the respondents to the Rasmussen survey were undecided about the candidates, pollster Scott Rasmussen said Perry's 11-point lead "marks a significant jump in support."

Perry's announcement wrested attention from the Iowa straw poll and shook up the GOP nomination race.

"Gov. Perry is enjoying a bounce from entering the race at precisely the right time," Rasmussen said. "Now, the difficult part begins for the new front-runner. It's much easier winning support when people are hoping you will get in the race than retaining support when you are front-runner."

The other GOP candidates trailed in the poll. Georgia businessman Herman Cain came in at 6 percent, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich got 5 percent. Former Sen. Rick Santorum and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman each had 1 percent.

The national survey was conducted Monday night among 1,000 likely Republican primary voters. The margin of error was 3 percentage points.

Dave Montgomery is the Star-Telegram's Austin bureau chief. 512-476-4294

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