From the day Governor Rick Perry announced, he has been the frontrunner for the Republican nomination. At the start of the post-Labor Day 2012 campaign season and sprint to the February 6 Iowa caucus, new polls have him with a 15-point lead over Mitt Romney.
The March 6 Colorado caucus should be favorable territory for Romney. He won it soundly against John McCain in 2008 and has the bulk of the party establishment behind him now.
The earliest published Colorado poll (August 7, PPP Democratic robo poll) showed Romney with a higher favorability rating than Perry, largely due to being better known.
The poll was among all voters. The entire Republican field lost to Obama at that point by 7 to 16 points, with Romney running closest.
The same poll among registered Republicans had Perry and Romney tied at 20 percent each when Sarah Palin was included, and Romney at 22 percent and Perry 21 percent when she was excluded.
Perry’s Colorado problem at that point is that the Tea Party and other movement conservatives were divided between Perry, Michele Bachmann (15%), Herman Cain (5%) and Newt Gingrich (9%), with Ron Paul receiving his regular libertarian vote (7%).
Although a new Colorado poll has not been published, new national polls show Perry has consolidated much of the conservative vote and has become their first choice.
In this new Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey (August 27), President Obama was basically tied with Romney (46% Obama to 45% Romney) and led Perry by 5 points (47% Obama to 42% Perry).
The Republican Washington establishment feels Romney is the safer candidate. They believe Perry will lose votes, especially independents and weak Democrats, because his message and image are too focused on the base of the party and not swing voters. They fear he will become the issue not the President, and that he’s too “Buck”; that is, like Colorado senatorial candidate Ken Buck, he’s prone to verbal gaffs and will be easy to attack.
A series of debates will test those propositions. But, at the moment, Perry’s base is carrying the day in the Republican Party, and Obama is in such trouble, even a less ideal candidate appears that he could win.
See also Gallup Poll: Perry zooms to front of pack for 2012 GOP nomination