Perry Stays Atop the Polls on Eve of Tea Party Debate

Texas Governor Rick Perry is once again topping the charts in a new CNN Poll with 30 percent of GOP and independents favoring the field’s latest entry to win the Republican presidential nomination. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is holding steady with 18 percent. The more interesting numbers show the campaign of Michele Bachmann may be in serious trouble.

The CNN poll was released hours before the broadcast of Monday night’s “Tea Party Republican Debate,” that will be held in Tampa, Fla. CNN is teaming up with the Tea Party to host the event.

The poll of some 1,038 Americans reveals some unexpected numbers.

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In a CNN poll taken in mid-July, Perry was at 15 percent, although he did not announce his candidacy until early August. Romney held a slight four-point lead over both Perry and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin in July with 19 percent. The latest poll shows Romney has actually dropped one percentage point. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has gained two points, going from 10 to 12 percent.

What is most surprising is Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) has nose-dived from 12 percent in July to four percent in Monday’s poll.

Why has Bachmann seen her numbers drop so much? The answer will draw responses from many different angles, but the consensus is that she has been caught somewhere between Perry and her House colleague, Ron Paul.

Mike Bayham, a Louisiana political consultant, noted several factors for the decline in Bachmann’s numbers.

“Perry got the jump on Bachmann when he announced on the same day as the Iowa Straw poll, taking the wind out of Bachmann’s sails,” said Bayham. “I think many people don’t think Bachmann comes off as ‘Presidential’ as Perry and some of the other candidates. She also made a few gaffes along the way that haven’t helped her cause. The bottom line is Perry just sucked all the oxygen out of the room when he announced.”

The remaining announced candidates, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Atlanta businessman Herman Cain, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman and former Senator Rick Santorum, come in at five percent or below in the new poll.

Others are asking why Palin, who has not yet declared her intentions to run in the GOP presidential primary, is still polling so well?

“Tea partiers like her message, but from what I’m hearing on the street, many don’t think she has a chance of either winning the nomination or beating Obama in a general election,” Bayham added. “But there’s definitely a role for her somewhere since she delivers the conservative message so well.”

Palin’s “negatives” – or in the case of this poll, the ones most “upset” with her – are the highest at 19 percent compared to Perry with only seven percent “upset” with him. Romney has the lowest numbers in this category, coming in at five percent.

With Palin out of the running, Perry’s numbers increase slightly to 32 percent with Romney at 21 percent and Paul at 13 percent. Bachmann’s numbers go from four to seven percent.

When asked which candidate do they feel will most fight for their beliefs, Perry and Palin hold the two top spots at 29 and 23 percent respectively. Romney and Bachmann tie for fourth place at 11 percent.

Of the 1,038 respondents, 834 were among landline respondents and 204 were cell phone respondents. The poll had a margin of error of plus/minus three percentage points.

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