Poll: Romney Closing On Perry

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perry-romney1Texas Gov. Rick Perry leads former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney for the GOP presidential nomination, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, in what is becoming a battle between the candidate who excites more Republicans and the one who shows stronger appeal among swing voters.

The survey, taken Thursday through Sunday, charts a GOP field that seems headed toward a showdown between Perry, with 31% backing, and Romney, at 24%.

The only other candidate in double digits is Texas Rep. Ron Paul, at 13%. Support for Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann has plummetted to 5%.

Veteran Republican strategist Ed Rollins, who resigned as Bachmann’s campaign manager earlier this month, says the results could signal “a drawn-out process” and extended primary fight between Perry and Romney, both of whom are likely to have ample money and other resources.

But for Bachmann, he says, “The only way she can get back in this race is to somehow win Iowa,” which holds the opening caucuses early next year.

Support for the two leading contenders is distinctly different:

• Perry is stronger among Republicans and independents who lean Republican, the voters who settle nominations. In a head-to-head race, 49% say they would vote for Perry, 39% for Romney.

• Romney does better among the swing voters who hold the key to most general elections. Among all registered voters, Romney edges President Obama while Perry narrowly lags him.

Perry is also a more polarizing figure: 44% say they definitely would not vote for the Texas governor; 35% say that of Romney.

Looked at another way, 62% say would either definitely vote for Romney or consider doing so; 53% say that of Perry.

Perry has increased his standing a bit, compared with results from Gallup’s daily poll in late August, but Romney has narrowed the gap between them. Then, Perry led Romney, 29%-17%. Now that 12-point margin is down to 7 points.

Bachmann was at 10% in late August and at 13% in early August, before Perry jumped in.

The eight major GOP contenders are slated to meet Thursday for their third debate in three weeks, this time in Orlando.

Romney has been pressing the argument that Perry’s blunt views on Social Security and other issues will make it hard for him to win in November. That may strike a chord: 53% of Republican voters say they would prefer the nominee with the best chance of beating Obama; 43% say they want the candidate who agrees with them on almost all issues.

Perry has intensity on his side, however. Seven in 10 of his supporters say they’re more enthusiastic than usual about voting in 2012, while just under half of Romney’s supporters are energized.

{USA Today/Matzav.com Newscenter}



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