Rasmussen: Don’t Count Perry Out Yet

Wednesday, 26 Oct 2011 07:41 PM

By Martin Gould and Ashley Martella

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Rick Perry still can spring a huge surprise and mount a comeback to become the Republican candidate to face President Barack Obama at the ballot box next year, influential pollster Scott Rasmussen tells Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview.

The Texas governor has made a lot of unforced errors in his campaign, but the spot as the “anti-Mitt Romney” is still open, he said.

Now Perry must hope that Herman Cain continues to stumble as the spotlight falls on the former pizza magnate following his rise to the top of the polls.

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“The thing that would help Rick Perry the most is for Herman Cain to collapse, because what we have seen through this entire process is Mitt Romney’s numbers stay the same and when somebody else goes up or down, they have to find some other candidate to go to,” said Rasmussen, one of the nation's most important political pollsters and the president of Rasmussen Reports.

Editor's Note: Get Rick Perry's Best-Seller "Fed Up" FREE! Click Here Now.

“Rick Perry could have been the clear tea party candidate. He really picked an unnecessary fight with his comments about tuition benefits for illegal immigrants. He did not perform well in the debates. So a lot of unforced errors were really the problem for Rick Perry.

“The odds are against him and his numbers are very bad,” Rasmussen added. “He’s in sixth place in our polling in Iowa. He has fallen to single digits nationally; he is struggling in New Hampshire.”

But Perry has deep pockets and a campaign war chest like no candidate apart from Romney, Rasmussen said.

“He also has 10 years as a governor, which gives him a certain level of credibility that other challengers to Mitt Romney don’t have.”

Rasmussen said that, with a little over two months before the start of the primary season, he would not give any candidate more than a 50/50 chance of being the eventual GOP nominee. In the end it will come down to a battle between former Massachusetts Gov. Romney and whoever manages to win the anti-Romney vote.

At the the moment, that is Cain, Rasmussen said. “Cain is auditioning for the role of ‘I’m Not Mitt Romney,’” he said. “That is where this whole process is going to come down to. It’s going to be Mitt Romney and somebody else.”

It is impossible to tell whether Cain is the real deal right now, he said.. “His plans are coming under attack and some of his statements — he has stumbled a little bit in the past week.

“If Herman Cain can regroup and find ways to deal with the spotlight, then he has a shot, if not then somebody else will get the chance to audition for the second slot in this race.”

That person is unlikely to be Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, the independent pollster said, although he feels she does have a future as an influential figure among conservatives. “Michele Bachmann has established herself as a name and she will be a serious player, especially among tea party circles. She is someone who people will look to for guidance.”

Whoever wins the nomination is far from a shoo-in to win the election against Obama, Rasmussen pointed out. Even though his approval ratings according to Gallup are lower than any other president except Jimmy Carter at this time in his first term, that does not mean the president is sure to lose.

“Jimmy Carter ran against Ronald Reagan, so I am not quite sure the comparison is as precise as some would like to make it,” he said.

“Every presidency has its unique trajectory. The president still retains strong support from Democrats — they may not be as enthusiastic as they were four years ago about him but they are going to support him. It is not out of the question that President Obama could turn this around, but he’s an underdog today.

“We talk about all these things right now, but in 1983, Walter Mondale and Ronald Reagan were tied in the polls, and Ronald Reagan won 49 states a year later, so you look for trends right now, you don’t try to get too much into the weeds. A year’s a lifetime in politics.”

When asked whether the Republican nominee could get a boost in critical Ohio by choosing either popular Sen. Rob Portman or Gov. John Kasich as a running mate, Rasmussen said, “Ohio will certainly be one of the key states. It is very hard to see how Barack Obama could lose Ohio and still win the White House.

“He is going to have trouble in Florida because his healthcare plan is so unpopular among seniors, so the president is looking to Ohio as a key state and it’s going to be part of any Republican coalition.”

But he said the nomination for the No. 2 spot is unlikely to be a decisive factor come November next year. “In Election 2012, the biggest factor is not the Republicans or the Republican vice-presidential nominee or the Republican platform, it’s Barack Obama.”

Editor's Note: Get Rick Perry's Best-Seller "Fed Up" FREE! Click Here Now.

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