PollingPresident 2012Rick PerryTea Party

President 2012 Poll Watch: Tea Party Supporters Are Backing Rick Perry

According to the latest Gallup Poll.
Rick Perry’s candidacy has attracted strong initial support from Republicans who identify themselves as supporters of the Tea Party movement. Perry leads by 21 percentage points over the closest contenders among this group, Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann. Among Republicans who say they do not support the Tea Party movement, Romney and Perry are essentially tied.

These results are based on an Aug. 17-21 Gallup poll, which showed Perry overtaking Romney as the front-runner for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination among all Republicans nationwide.

The poll finds that 58% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents identify themselves as supporters of the Tea Party movement, with 36% saying they do not consider themselves supporters. Included among the group of Tea Party supporters is a smaller group — representing 12% of Republicans — who say they are “strong” supporters of the movement. Among this smaller group, Perry’s lead is even greater, 46% to 16%, over Bachmann, with all other candidates in single digits.

Since his announcement, Texas Governor Rick Perry has consolidated his voter support and leaped into the lead in most polls. Perry has frozen out Michele Bachmann as the leader of the Tea Party and may have forestalled a run by Sarah Palin (but we will see about that on September 3rd).

Perry has immediately become the preferred Republican nomination candidate of Tea Party movement supporters and, by extension, those who view government spending and power as the most important issue. He also demonstrates strong appeal to moral values voters, and is competitive with Romney among Republicans rating business and the economy as the most important issue.

Perry will attempt to consolidate the support of these constituencies in the coming months as he begins his nomination campaign in earnest, including participating for the first time in candidate debates next month. Whether he is able to solidify his status as the new front-runner, or whether it turns out to be a temporary response to the excitement generated by his entry into the race, will become apparent in future Gallup updates of Republicans’ nomination preferences.