A third poll in eight days has confirmed that Republican presidential latecomer Rick Perry now enjoys a significant lead over former front-runner Mitt Romney.
Gallup’s poll released on Wednesday showed the Texas governor zooming to the top of the pile and relegating Romney to second place.
It follows hard on the heels of two other surveys, one by Rasmussen and one by Public Policy Polling (PPP), both of which gave Perry a double-digit lead over Romney.
Gallup’s margin is eight percentage points. On Aug. 16, Rasmussen gave him an 11-point advantage while the PPP poll, details of which were announced early Wednesday, showed Perry with a 13-point lead.
Whatever the margin, all three make uneasy reading for the former Massachusetts governor, who has been widely regarded as the candidate to beat.
Gallup says 29 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning independents would vote for Perry in a primary, while Romney has 17 percent.
The poll also suggested that Perry’s entry into the race hurt Rep. Michele Bachmann’s campaign badly. At one point, she was running second behind Romney but has fallen back into fourth place with just 10 percent, putting her behind fellow Congressman Ron Paul, who stands at 13 percent. No other candidate has more than 4 percent in the Gallup poll.
Gallup says the fact that Perry made his entry into the race official on the day of the Iowa Straw Poll completely overshadowed Bachmann’s victory there.
But the organization concedes that part of the reason for the Perry surge is because the amount of publicity his late entry has given him. Republican Fred Thompson made a similar splash in 2008, as did Democrat Wesley Clark in 2004, but they soon fell back.
“Both created a buzz surrounding their potential candidacies, and ranked among the national leaders upon entering the race. However, both fared poorly in early primaries and caucuses and soon after ended their candidacies,” Gallup observed.
In breaking down the figures, Gallup says Romney still leads the race in the East by a single percentage point but is behind the Texan by 27 points in the South. Unsurprisingly, Romney also leads among voters who identify as liberal or moderate Republicans.
The only other subgroup that Perry does not win is among voters under 30. They give Paul an 8 percentage point lead over Perry, with Bachmann in third place and Romney, fourth.
In a separate poll in which two undeclared Republicans, Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani, were included, Perry again came out on top with 25 percent, followed by Romney at 14 percent, Palin and Paul equal at 11 percent, Giuliani at 9 percent, and Bachmann at 7 percent.
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