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CNN Poll: Perry near the top in GOP nomination race

By Paul Steinhauser, CNN Deputy Political Director
  • Texas Gov. Rick Perry has a lot of strength among tea party supporters
  • Survey indicates that Rep. Michele Bachmann has the support of 12%
  • 14% say they are satisfied with the field of 13 GOP presidential candidates

Washington (CNN) -- As Texas Gov. Rick Perry comes closer to jumping into the race for the White House, he's also close to the top of a new national survey in the battle for the GOP presidential nomination.

A CNN/ORC International Poll released Friday indicates that 14% of Republicans and independents who lean toward the GOP pick Perry as their first choice for their party's nomination, just two points behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who's making his second bid for the White House.

Romney's two point margin over Perry is within the survey's sampling error.

Both former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin are at 13%, according to the poll.

While Giuliani, who ran for the presidency four years ago, and Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2008, have flirted with bids, neither has taken concrete steps toward launching a campaign.

The survey indicates that Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota has the support of 12%, with Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who's making his third run for the presidency, at 8%, and former Godfather's Pizza CEO and radio talk show host Herman Cain at 6%. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is at 4% with former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty at 3%, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania at 2%, and former Utah Gov. and former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman at 1%.

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and Rep. Thad McCotter of Michigan both register at less than one half of 1%.

According to the poll, Perry appears to be changing some GOP minds.

"In May, 50% of Republicans said that they did not want Perry to throw his hat in the ring; now, 50% say they would welcome a bid by Perry," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

The survey indicates that Perry's biggest supporters are men: He wins 20% among Republican men, compared with only 8% among GOP women.

Perry also has a lot of strength among tea party supporters. He is in first place, with 22 %, among Republicans who say they support the tea party. Among nontea partiers, Romney is in first place, with 22%, and Perry drops to 5%.

Since Perry was not on the list of potential candidates in previous CNN/ORC polls, it is necessary to take him out of the list to see which candidates have gained or lost ground this summer -- and there are some striking results.

"The biggest winner has been Bachmann, whose support with Perry out of the running has nearly quadrupled, from 4% in June to 15% now. Romney has lost seven points during that time, and Palin has dropped by five points," adds Holland. "But the biggest loser may be Gingrich, whose support went from double digits to an anemic 4%."

According to the poll, 14% say they are very satisfied with the field of 13 GOP presidential candidates listed on the poll, with an additional 52% saying they are fairly satisfied. And 34% say they are not satisfied.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International on July 18-20, with 455 Republicans and independents who lean toward the GOP questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points for questions regarding the GOP presidential nomination horserace.