Perry top choice for Republican nomination, CNN poll shows

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Rick Perry holds a comfortable lead in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. He has displaced Mitt Romney as the frontrunner and is pulling away from the pack, according to a national CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Monday.

Perry leads the field with 27 percent of the vote, followed by Romney with 14 percent. Sarah Palin has 10 percent, and Rudy Giuliani and Michele Bachmann are tied with 9 percent. Remove the as-yet-undeclared Palin and Giuliani, and Perry jumps to 32 percent of the vote. Romney and Bachmann boast similar gains — getting 18 and 12 percent of the vote, respectively. Newt Gingrich is a distant fourth with seven percent.

The Texas governor’s appeal cuts across various demographics within the group of likely Republican primary voters. He leads among independent voters with 26 percent of the vote, compared to 14 percent for Sarah Palin and 13 percent for Mitt Romney. He leads among those who identify themselves as Republicans. Perry is the favorite of moderates with 18 percent compared to Sarah Palin’s 15 percent and Romney’s 11 percent, and he has a large lead among conservatives.

He is also a tea party favorite, getting 37 percent of the vote from people who support the tea party, while tea party darling Bachmann gets only 14 percent.

The results confirm what other polls from the past week have shown: Since his announcement, Perry has rocketed to the top of the GOP field. Bachmann, on the other hand, appears to be falling out of top tier.

It is worth noting each candidate saw something of a bump after announcing his or her candidacy. For example, after announcing at the debate in New Hampshire, Bachmann “surged” in the polls, but her numbers have since come down. It remains to be seen if Perry can maintain the bounce. (RELATED: Does academic achievement equal Oval Office success?)

Despite Obama’s tanking approval numbers — which currently sit at 38 percent, according to Gallup, the lowest number of his presidency — the CNN/ORC poll found little support among Democrats for a primary challenge to the president. A whopping 72 percent of Democrats say the party should renominate Obama, while just 27 percent say the nominee should be someone different.

That finding represents a slight decline in support for the president. From December of 2010 through mid-July of 2011, support for Obama as the nominee remained above 76 percent, and support for a primary challenge never topped 23 percent. In August of 2011, those numbers shifted to just 70 percent saying they supported Obama’s renomination, and 28 percent saying that they supported a challenger.

The poll is based on live telephone interviews with 1,017 American adults nationwide from August 24 through August 25. There were 467 Republicans surveyed. The margin of error for that sample is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. The sample of 463 Democrats has the same margin of error.