Reflecting a surge seen in polling across the nation, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has moved into first place as the top Republican candidate among GOP voters in Iowa, host state to the first-in-the-nation caucus early next year, according to a new Rasmussen Reports survey
Perry is the first choice for 29 percent in the Aug. 31 Rasmussen telephone survey of 862 voters likely to participate in the Iowa GOP Caucus.
Essentially tied for second are Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann at 18 percent and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at 17 percent. Texas Congressman Ron Paul picks up 14 percent of the vote, and nobody else reaches the 5 percent mark.
A month ago, before Perry officially entered the race, Bachmann and Romney were essentially tied for the lead, with Perry in fourth place.
The new Iowa results are consistent with national polling, which also shows Perry on top, a Rasmussen analysis noted. Perry leads President Obama by 3 percent in an early look at a possible general election matchup. Other top Republican contenders are close. The president trails a generic Republican by 8.
Perry has the support of 45 percent of tea party voters, while Romney holds a slight 24 percent to 20 percent lead over Perry among those who are not members of the grass-roots movement.
However, Rasmussen notes that just 27 percent of all likely Iowa caucus goers are certain of how they will vote.
That leaves plenty of room for opinions to shift, particularly if new candidates enter the race, according to the polling service. Perry has entered the race on top but has yet to face a debate or other serious campaign testing from his competitors. That will change with a large number of candidate forums scheduled this month.
Meanwhile, 80 percent of likely Iowa caucusgoers think it’s at least somewhat likely that the Republican nominee will defeat Obama. That includes 56 percent who say it’s Very Likely.
As for the other GOP candidates, 4 percent support former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum; 4 percent back Georgia businessman Herman Cain; 3 percent favor former U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman; and 2 percent support former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
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