Rick Perry’s led the Republican field in every Southern state that we’ve polled since he entered the Presidential race…until now. Mitt Romney continues to lead the way in Florida with 30% to 24% for Perry, 10% for Gingrich, 8% for Ron Paul, 7% for Herman Cain, 6% for Michele Bachmann, 3% for Jon Huntsman, 2% for Rick Santorum, and 1% for Gary Johnson.
Perry had a poor debate performance in Florida Thursday night and our results suggest that the negative coverage he received from that did hurt him some in the state. We started this poll on Thursday night before the debate and in those interviews the race was neck and neck with Romney at 33% and Perry at 31%. But in interviews done Friday-Sunday Romney’s lead expanded to double digits at 29-19. More telling might be what happened to Perry’s favorability numbers after the debate- on Thursday night he was at 63/23 with Florida Republicans. Friday-Sunday he was at 48/36. Perry’s poor performance may or may not prove to be a game changer nationally but it definitely appears to have hurt his image in the key state where it occurred.
Perry was down in Florida even before the debate though and one thing that may be hurting him is his comments on Social Security. 49% of voters disagree with his ‘Ponzi Scheme’ comments to only 37% who agree and with the folks who dissent from that statement his deficit against Romney goes all the way up to 19 points at 35-16. It’s also noteworthy that seniors are the age group where Perry faces the biggest deficit to Romney at 34-26.
Rick Perry was hurt from his Florida debate performance. Perry may not be OUT but he is teetering on the brink.
If Chris Christie finally decides not to run, then the GOP looks like they will SETTLE for Mitt Romney.
Also, note that Michele Bachmann is in “free fall” and with today’s Iowa poll one wonders, if she is going to be able to raise sufficient funds to compete there.