Perry leads Romney in Florida, with Texas gov drawing backing of some potent forcesby John Kennedy | September 22nd, 2011
Rick Perry is leading Mitt Romney among Florida Republicans, with some potent forces propelling him forward, according to the new Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday.
In head-to-head matchups with Romney, the Texas governor is the clear favorite of Republican voters in the state who consider themselves tea party supporters or evangelicals. Perry tops Romney 55-35 percent among tea party advocates and 52-34 percent among evangelicals, who have long been uneasy with Romney, a Mormon.
Although Quinnipiac found Romney is currently best positioned among all voters to beat President Obama, the assistant director of the university’s polling institute, Peter Brown, said he didn’t expect Perry to go out of his way to woo independents or moderates in tonight’s Fox-News television debate among the GOP contenders.
Perry’s hardline conservative colors — perhaps underscored by his condemning Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme” — is generally supported by Florida Republicans. Fifty-two percent of poll respondents said “Ponzi scheme” was a good way to characterize Social Security.
The survey “says that Rick Perry has a small lead. But when you do a couple of things, his lead gets better,” Brown said.
Perry is up 28-22 percent among Florida Republicans. But his lead over Romney swells to 9 percent if Sarah Palin doesn’t run. In a two-man face-off, Perry tops Romny 46-38 percent, the survey found.
Tonight’s Fox-News debate from the Orlando-Orange County Convention Center will be aired from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., and features nine GOP presidential candidates.
Except for Perry and Romney, the remainder of the field draws only single digits among Republicans. Also, Perry is the leading second-choice among supporters of the other candidates — a key factor in a race where many also-rans are expected to fold at least after the early primaries next year.
And while Perry may be struggling against Obama at the moment, the survey shows Republicans are incredibly motivated to win back the White House next fall.
Sixty-three percent of Republicans say they are more enthusiastic about voting in next year’s presidential election than usual, compared with only 28 percent of Democrats who say they are fired up and ready to go.
“At this point, it appears President Obama is motivating Republicans and Republican-leaners to be excited about voting against him,” Brown said.