Poll: Perry continues to lead Republican field

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Rick Perry continues to lead the Republican field, holding on to his frontrunner position over Mitt Romney, according to a national Public Policy Polling (PPP) poll released Wednesday.

Republican voters have the most favorable opinion of Perry of any of the candidates polled, and when faced with the full ballot, Perry wins a 31 percent plurality. In the crowded field, his nearest competitor is Mitt Romney with 18 percent of the vote. Ron Paul gets 11 percent of the vote, followed by Newt Gingrich with 10 percent.

If the field winnows down to just Perry and Romney, Perry takes it 49 percent to 37 percent, with 14 percent of voters undecided. According to a tweet from PPP, Romney amasses votes from supporters of Paul and Jon Huntsman, while Perry takes them from Bachmann, Gingrich, Cain and Santorum.

PPP President Dean Debnam says the results show that “Perry’s momentum has finally stopped. “He was gaining more and more support with every new poll and that is not the case with this one. But he’s in a very good position — the big question now is whether he can hold onto it.”

When PPP last polled Republican primary voters in August, Perry was at 27 percent.

Perry’s opposition to Social Security — he has called it a Ponzi scheme and suggested it should perhaps be eliminated — does not appear to have hurt him too badly for now. A majority of Republican voters disagree with him on those two statements: 75 percent oppose eliminating Social Security and 53 percent disagree that the program is a Ponzi scheme. Nonetheless, Perry retains a positive, if lower, approval rating with both groups.

However, it could cause problems in a head-to-head match up with Mitt Romney. Perry holds only a narrow lead over Romney among those who oppose eliminating Social Security — 44 percent to Romney’s 41 percent. Among those who disagree that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, 44 percent would vote for Mitt Romney and 39 percent would vote for Perry.

A poll released Tuesday by PPP found that, of the two, Romney would be the stronger candidate against Obama in a general election. Romney loses to the president by just four points, while Obama has an 11-point lead over Perry.

The poll surveyed 500 usual Republican primary voters nationwide using robo-calls from September 8 through September 11. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

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Alexis Levinson