Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney continues to lead the race for the Republican nomination, but Michele Bachmann has surged into second place following her Monday night entry into the campaign.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely GOP Primary Voters, taken following the candidates’ Monday night debate, shows Romney earning 33% support, with Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann a surprise second at 19%. Georgia businessman Herman Cain is in third place with 10% of the vote.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich picks up nine percent (9%) support, followed by Texas Congressman Ron Paul with seven percent (7%), ex-Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty at six percent (6%) and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum also earning six percent (6%). Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, who did not participate in the debate but is expected to announce his candidacy on Tuesday, gets two percent (2%) of the vote. Eight percent (8%) prefer some other candidate.
Romney and Bachmann are tied among primary voters who say they are Tea Party members, with 26% support each. Romney holds a 36% to 16% lead over the congresswoman among non-members. Most primary voters regard all the candidates with the exception of Huntsman as conservative, but Bachmann is seen as the most conservative.
In late April, billionaire developer Donald Trump led the pack with 19% support, followed by Romney at 17% and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee with 15%. Trump and Huckabee have since announced that they are not running. Bachmann was the leader among the second-tier candidates at that time.
The survey of 1,000 Likely GOP Primary Voters was conducted on June 14, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. Likely GOP Primary Voters include both Republicans and unaffiliated voters likely to vote in a GOP Primary. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC.
For the third week in a row, a generic Republican candidate leads President Obama in a hypothetical 2012 election matchup. But while 54% of Likely Voters nationwide think Obama is qualified to be president, Romney is the only 2012 Republican hopeful that a sizable number of voters feel that way about.
There is little difference of opinion among male and female GOP primary voters, although women give Romney slightly more support. The gap between Romney and Bachmann is narrowest among middle-aged primary voters.
Romney, Bachmann and Cain earn 31%, 22% and 12% support respectively among primary voters who describe themselves as conservatives. Romney runs strongest among party moderates.
Seventy-five percent (75%) of primary voters describe Bachmann as at least somewhat conservative. That includes 55% who say she is Very Conservative.
By contrast, 61% rate Romney as at least somewhat conservative, but that includes just 11% who say he is Very Conservative. Fifty-seven percent (57%) think Cain is at least somewhat conservative, with 32% who view him as Very Conservative.
Gingrich is seen as at least somewhat conservative by 68% of likely primary voters, with 35% who feel he is Very Conservative. Similarly, 63% say Paul is at least somewhat conservative, including 39% who think he is Very Conservative. Pawlenty is seen as at least somewhat conservative by 59%, but only 19% say he’s Very Conservative.
Fifty-eight percent (58%) think Santorum is at least somewhat conservative, including 30% who view him as Very Conservative. Just 31%, however, say Huntsman is at least somewhat conservative, with seven percent (7%) who rate him Very Conservative. Another 20% characterize him as a moderate, but a sizable 40% don’t know enough about him to venture any kind of opinion of his political views.
Huntsman is the least known of the declared or soon-to-be declared candidates.