Perry leads in new poll, unhurt by Social Security comments

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Rick Perry leads the Republican field and is seen as the candidate most capable of beating Obama, according to a CNN/ORC poll released Monday.

Thirty percent of Republicans say they would likely support Perry in 2012, while 18 percent say they would support Romney, 15 percent say they would support Palin and 12 percent say they would support Ron Paul.

Without Palin in the race, Perry gets 32 percent of the vote, Romney gets 21 percent, and Ron Paul gets 13 percent.

Romney and Perry’s numbers remain relatively unchanged from CNN/ORC’s last poll at the end of the August. However, both Michele Bachmann and Paul have seen their numbers move — in opposite directions. Last month, Paul got just 6 percent of the vote without Palin in the race, and now he is up to 13 percent. Bachmann, on the other hand, had 12 percent of the vote last month, and is down to 7 percent this month. With Palin in the race, she gets only 4 percent. (RELATED: Matt Lewis on ‘The Rubes vs. The Rubios’ in arguing Social Security)

Three-quarters of Republicans would prefer a nominee who can beat President Barack Obama to one who agrees with them on every issue, and for 42 percent of Republicans, that means nominating Rick Perry. Conveniently, Perry is also the candidate that 26 percent, a plurality, say is likely to agree with them on the issues.

Romney is seen as the most electable by 26 percent of Republicans, but only 15 percent say he is the most likely to agree with them on the issues.

Though 14 percent say that Ron Paul is the candidate with whom they are the most ideologically similar, just 5 percent say that he is the most electable.

Perry’s contention that Social Security is a failure and a Ponzi scheme does not appear to have hurt him with older voters for the moment. Perry is actually more popular with Republicans over age 50 than he is with younger voters. Fifty-two percent of Republicans over age 65 say they would vote for Perry, compared to 21 percent who say they would vote for Romney. For Republicans under 25, Perry polled at 24 percent.

The two candidates faced off on the issue at the Republican presidential debate last Wednesday at the Reagan Library, and will do so again Monday night at the Tea Party Express/CNN debate.

The results are based on a survey of 446 Republicans interviewed over the telephone from September 9 through September 11. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.