Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Post Debate Poll: Perry Still Leads Romney, Bachmann is So Yesterday

The Battle Lines are Drawn, and Mr. Obama Gets Some Good News

The new USA Today/Gallup Poll results are now available and they show

a GOP field that seems headed toward a showdown between Perry, with 31% backing, and Romney, at 24%.

which is pretty much what one would have expected.  The three attacks on Mr. Perry in the last debate did not register all that well with Republican voters even as they registered highly with professional political observers who keep forgetting that this is the race for the Republican nomination, not the general election. 

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, right, and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney appear at the Republican presidential debate Sept. 12 in Tampa.
Sorry Ms. Bachmann, no room for you
in the photo of the leaders

The first areas was Mr. Perry came under fire was Social Security where Mr. Romney sought to identify himself as the supporter of the system and to identify Mr. Perry as the enemy.  This will keep Mr. Romney in good standing with part of the Party, but he has to remember that a large part of the GOP regards Social Security as evil incarnate, even as some of those same individuals collect far more from the system than they ever contributed.

Mr. Romney will obviously continue this attack in the upcoming debate in Orlando, but look for him to broaden his attack to Mr. Perry’s record on the economy, with the recent release of unemployment figures for Texas that showed an increase in the unemployment rate.

The second area where Mr. Perry was seen to be vulnerable was in his executive order mandating the inoculation of a vaccine against cervical cancer in 12 year old girls.  This is Michele Bachmann’s issue and it is not working   Ms. Bachmann is now at 5% in the polls, tied with Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain.  Ms. Bachmann comes across and just plain mean, and is also uninformed, as she tried to link the vaccine to mental retardation when in fact there is not such link.

Ms. Bachmann will likely shift gears in the upcoming debate, attacking Mr. Perry for his relationship with the vaccine’s maker, calling it “crony capitalism”.  Again this might be a good argument for a general election, but Conservatives who dominate Republican voting actually like their elected officials to be beholding to private companies. Crony capitalism is what they consider good government.  Ms. Bachmann should soon start looking at her campaign for re-election to the House.

Immigration is where Mr. Perry is most vulnerable and how well he does going forward will be determined in large part by how well he handles this question.  Mr. Perry’s positions reflect his Texas political heritage, where too harsh an attitude is a political negative.  He will have to do a much better job of explaining his opposition to a border fence and his willingness to allow teenagers who were brought to this country illegally by their parents to attend state universities as state students.  Mr. Romney is playing to a base that thinks everyone with a Latino name is a criminal.

The next big issue on the Republican side, who gets the voters that support Ron Paul when he leaves the race?  It is hard to see them going to Mr. Romney.

The good news for Mr. Obama is that in head to head matchups against Mr. Romney and Mr. Perry is that

Among all registered voters, Romney slightly bests President Obama 49%-47%, while Perry lags behind the president, 45% to 50%.

That Mr. Obama is competitive at this point is an indication of just how toxic the Republican candidates are.  But Mr. Obama should not take too much comfort, the poll is of registered voters.  Once likely voters are being polled Mr. Obama is likely to be losing by a statistically significant margin.  Republicans are highly committed to defeating Mr. Obama, his supporters much less committed to re-electing him.

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