Perry Less Likely Than Romney to Beat Obama in 2012, Poll Shows

Texas Governor Rick Perry, who leads his rivals for the Republican nomination for president, is less likely than his closest primary competitor to beat President Barack Obama in the general election, a poll released today found.

Just two weeks after he announced his candidacy for the White House, 24 percent of Republican voters and those who lean Republican say they prefer Perry while 18 percent favor former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.

“Being the new kid on the block has benefited Perry,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac’s Polling Institute. “With prominence comes scrutiny, and both his Republican competitors and the Democrats are doing their best to convince voters he’s not ’Mr. Wonderful’.”

While Perry leads the Republican field, Romney poses a stronger challenge to Obama in a general election, according to the the Aug. 16-23 poll of 2,730 voters, which has a margin of error of 1.9 percentage points. Romney and Obama each would win about 47 percent of the vote in a November 2012 match-up, according to the poll. Obama topped Perry 45 percent to 42 percent, the poll showed.

Men and white voters prefer Romney to Obama, while the president leads both Romney and Perry among women.

Photographer: LM Otero/AP

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, left, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, left, chat as Rebecca Valdez, 4, sits during a visit to an early childhood development center in Dallas on Jan. 31, 2006. Close

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, left, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, left, chat as Rebecca... Read More

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Photographer: LM Otero/AP

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, left, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, left, chat as Rebecca Valdez, 4, sits during a visit to an early childhood development center in Dallas on Jan. 31, 2006.

Men, Whites, Independents

“The president is now dead even with one top Republican and just inches ahead of the other,” Brown said. “He needs to improve his standing among men, whites and independents to ensure his re-election.”

Perry, the longest-serving current U.S. governor and an early Tea Party supporter, announced his presidential bid on Aug. 13. Since then, he has been traveling through Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina -- states that will hold the first nominating contests early next year -- as he also boosts his fund-raising.

Romney, 64, a former private equity investor, is trying to differentiate himself from Perry by highlighting his business experience.

“I have spent most of my life outside of politics, dealing with real problems in the real economy,” he said yesterday in Texas. “Career politicians got us into this mess, and they simply don’t know how to get us out.”

Perry, 61, touts his success in creating jobs in Texas while governor.

“Since I became governor in December 2000, Texas has added more than 1 million net new jobs while the rest of the nation has lost nearly 2.5 million jobs,” he said on a blog on his campaign website.

Series of Polls

The Quinnipiac survey is the latest in a series of polls that have shown Perry leaping to the front of the Republican field. A CNN poll released Aug. 29 found 27 percent of Republican voters prefer the Texas governor, with 14 percent choosing Romney. That survey had a 4.5 percentage point margin of error.

An Aug. 26 Gallup Poll showed Perry was the top choice of Tea Party supporters, drawing 35 percent support, compared to 14 percent for both Romney and Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann, who is founder of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus. That poll’s margin of error was 4 percentage points.

Bachmann, who won the Aug. 13 Iowa straw poll, was the choice of 10 percent of the Republican and Republican-leaning independent voters in the Quinnipiac poll. Representative Ron Paul of Texas had 9 percent.

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who isn’t officially running for president, topped Bachmann and Paul with the support of 11 percent of Republicans.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alison Fitzgerald in Washington at afitzgerald2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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