Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rasmussen Poll Shows Texas Governor Rick Perry Gets Huge Bump From Entry Into Presidential Race, Leads Mitt Romney By Double Digits

A new Rasmussen poll of 1,000 likely GOP primary voters taken on August 15th, 2011 shows that Texas Governor Rick Perry has gained a huge bump from his formal entry into the 2012 Presidential campaign. He has already stormed out to a double-digit lead over Mitt Romney.

The poll was limited to formally-declared candidates, thus explaining the absence of Sarah Palin. The specific numbers:

-- Rick Perry: 29 percent
-- Mitt Romney: 18 percent
-- Michele Bachmann: 13 percent
-- Ron Paul: 9 percent
-- Herman Cain: 6 percent
-- Newt Gingrich: 5 percent
-- Rick Santorum: 1 percent
-- Jon Huntsman Jr: 1 percent
-- Thaddeus McCotter: <1 percent
-- Undecided: 16 percent

Since the poll was limited to declared candidates, I would suspect most of the Undecideds support either Sarah Palin or Rudy Giuliani, who have been measured in many other polls. Even though Perry's entry into the race coincided with Tim Pawlenty's exit, Pawlenty was only scoring in single digits in previous polls, so even if Pawlenty's supporters migrated to Perry, that still wouldn't be enough to be responsible for Perry's sudden surge. What's more likely is that, since Palin was not listed, many who would ordinarily have chosen Palin decided to choose Perry instead. Another poll of likely North Carolina primary voters supports that idea; with Palin included, it showed her, Perry and Romney each with 17 percent.

Palin and Perry have a close political relationship, and it would not surprise me if Sarah Palin chose to ultimately endorse Perry rather than enter the race herself, with an eye towards becoming Perry's running mate. But Alaska Dispatch thinks differently; they believe Palin's timing may be better than ever to jump into the race, and note that Perry has been subject to gaffes, like when he suggested on Monday night that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke may have committed or will commit treason.

On the surface, Rick Perry might seem like a good conservative Republican. Some of his positives:

-- Maintains an active and public prayer relationship with God. Too many Christians allow themselves to be bullied off the public stage by anklebiters who play the "separation of church and state" card; Rick Perry openly and unashamedly proclaims his relationship with God. And unlike Mike Huckabee, Perry does so without denigrating any Christian denominations by name.

-- Economically savvy. Under his leadership, Texas continues to be among the leaders in job creation, and persistently balances budgets without raising taxes. Texas remains one of the few states without a state income tax.

-- Promotes meaningful higher education reform. Perry wants to improve the viability of higher education through merit pay for professors, tenure reform, and generally a much greater emphasis on measurement of whether professors are turning out students that meet certain goals. Perry also wants higher education to be more affordable; he's specifically challenging Texas schools to develop bachelor’s degrees that cost no more than $10,000, including textbooks.

On the other hand, Perry has some potential negatives:

-- Considered weak on illegal immigration. Under his regime, illegal immigrants can get in-state tuition at Texas universities. Neither employers nor state agencies are required to run job applicants through a federal database to determine their legal status. Illegal immigrants have access to services for drug treatment, mental health and children with special health care needs. He is stronger on actually securing the border, though. But the message Perry sends is "we'll make it tough for you to sneak into our country, but if you succeed, we'll give you a free ride, so long as you do our scut work".

-- Once an enthusiastic proponent of the Trans-Texas Corridor system, which would have been network of broad corridors linking major cities, with toll roads for cars and trucks, tracks for freight and passenger rail, and space for pipelines and power lines. The intent was to facilitate Mexican truck traffic authorized under NAFTA, and Perry had announced the state had contracted with a Spanish consortium to build and operate one of the sections of the controversial network. After a public outcry, the project was "ratcheted down" in 2009, but not completely abandoned.

-- The mass kidnapping of 462 Fundamentalist Latter-day Saint children occurred during his watch; when the excesses were publicly exposed, Perry continued to defend the Texas CPS, even though 440 of the children were ultimately returned to their parents. This indicates the possibility that Perry, as president, would favor increased government abrogation of parental rights. The recent conviction of FLDS President Warren Jeffs still does not justify the Texas CPS' massive intervention into and disruption of the lives of FLDS families.

Here are two outstanding analyses of Rick Perry, one anti and the other pro:

-- Anti-Perry: "14 Reasons Why Rick Perry Would Be A Really, Really Bad President" by The American Dream.

-- Pro-Perry: "Seventeen (17) things that critics are saying about Rick Perry", Pesky Truth

What is obvious is that Rick Perry should be considered a serious "top-tier" candidate who has captured the allegiance of many social conservatives as well as the free trade crowd.

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