In the 16 days after Rick Perry announced his candidacy for the GOP nomination in the 2012 presidential race he pushed his way to the front of the pack. Twenty-nine percent of Republicans and Republican leaning independents say they would vote for Perry. Mitt Romney follows at 15 percent.
Perry is proving himself to be a real contender in the race. Most national polls rank Perry within five or six percentage points of Obama when they are put side-by-side in a general election match-up. Gallup shows them as tied.
A UT/Texas Tribune poll found that a week before he announced his candidacy only four percent of Texans picked him as their preferred Republican presidential nominee. With Perry’s steep cuts in education spending, veto crazes and his mega prayer rallies, it isn’t hard to see why some Texans might be wary of the idea of handing over the nation’s reigns to him.
Perry’s case isn’t helped by the fact that the office of the Governor of Texas is designed to be weak, that the oil business is the reason Texas’ economy is strong and that Texas is unable to go into debt (it’s written into the state’s Constitution).
But Texans do have to realize that, like it or not, he is a viable – but not guaranteed – candidate for the GOP nomination.
Polled Republicans who support the Tea Party are falling fast for Perry’s conservative spending and stance on governmental power. These give him 35 percent of their support in the latest Gallup Poll, in which Michelle Bachman, U.S. Representative from Minnesota and Tea Party darling, is coming in at 17 percent.
Perry is also starting to leach away Republicans who emphasise business and economy from Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts.
Social issue and moral values voters, though they are a small group, are gung-ho for Perry.
But the Texan Governor’s success in the polls is partly due to his late entry into the race. He can only avoid the grim fate of past late-entering candidates if he can keep his recognition on the rise and remain a viable candidate into the early primaries. His Tea Party friendly politics, apparently clean past and West Texas charm have created a front-runner who won’t be taken down easily.
Texans have known him as governor for 11 years and elected him three times, making him the nation’s longest serving governor.
Whether a Texas voter has supported Perry in the past, he can’t count him in or out, yet. Voters need to weigh their options and start planting signs and making phone calls for someone.