A couple of caveats are in order before we start looking at this poll.  First, it comes from PPP, a Democratic pollster which has had its fair share of difficulties in sampling Republicans.  It’s also early in the race, as Rick Perry just starts getting vetted and Sarah Palin hasn’t yet begun to campaign, if in fact she decides to campaign at all.

Still, this is a rather dramatic result:

The race is pretty close four ways in Iowa but Rick Perry is the new favorite among Republican voters in the state. Among announced candidates he’s at 22% to 19% for Mitt Romney, 18% for Michele Bachmann, and 16% for Ron Paul. Further back are Herman Cain at 7%, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum at 5%, and Jon Huntsman at 3%.

If you throw Sarah Palin into the mix the numbers are pretty similar with Perry at 21%, Romney at 18%, Bachmann at 15%, Paul at 12%, and Palin registering at only 10%.

I’m surprised and a little skeptical about two results.  Mitt Romney’s strong performance in Iowa seems a little questionable.  While he has done some campaigning in the state, he has given the impression that he will focus less there than on a strong performance in New Hampshire.  I’d also have guessed that Palin would outperform Ron Paul in the state.  PPP does note that this survey shows Romney losing significant ground, from 26% in June.

Assuming this is accurate, then it looks like Michele Bachmann didn’t win much for her efforts in Ames.  I had written at the time that the straw poll seemed more likely to produce the #3 and #4 candidate than a frontrunner, and this poll suggests the same thing.  While Romney doesn’t necessarily need a good performance in Iowa, Bachmann has no path to the nomination without winning the state.  And it’s the Tea Party base that she courts that — so far — has swung instead to Perry:

Only 33% of Republican voters in Iowa identify themselves as members of the Tea Party but a broad advantage with them is driving Perry’s lead. He gets 32% to 22% for Bachmann, and 19% for Paul. Romney is all the way back in 6th place with those voters at only 6%. Romney doesn’t need to win Tea Party voters to win in Iowa but he needs to do a whole lot better than that. With the majority of Republicans who don’t consider themselves Tea Partiers Romney actually leads Perry and Bachmann with 30% to their 16% but it’s not enough to make up for his poor performance with the far right faction of the party.

It’s an interesting first look at the state since Perry’s entry.  We’ll see if this is a reliable indicator or an outlier when other pollsters conclude their own Iowa surveys.

Update: Not surprisingly, Romney leads in Michigan, where his father served as Governor.  The Epic-MRA poll had some bad news for another favorite son:

Romney leads Texas Gov. Rick Perry, 32 to 17 percent. The EPIC-MRA poll surveyed a relatively small sample size, but Perry’s strong second-place showing in a state outside his natural base across the South is notable.

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., was third at 12 percent, while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin all tied for fourth at 5 percent. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Mich., earned just one percent of the vote in his home state; of all the candidates tested on his home turf, McCotter had the lowest name-identification, as nearly half of Republican voters said they didn’t recognize his name.

Remind me again — why is McCotter running for President?

This poll had a significantly smaller sample size than PPP’s in Iowa (210 to 317, respectively), for a much more populous state.  As National Journal notes, the results are good news for Perry and another indicator that this will become a two-man race, barring any late entries.

Update II: PPP says they have a national survey coming out tomorrow that shows Rick Perry with a double-digit lead over Romney for the Republican nomination.  According to their Twitter feed:

11:34 (CT): Our national GOP poll, out tomorrow, is better for Perry even than the Iowa one. Double digit lead.

11:36: Nationally, if it came down to a 2 person race: Perry 52, Romney 36. Mitt needs to try to wrap it up before it gets to that point.

11:40: More evidence Bachmann has maxed out support- down 9 to Romney, 30 to Perry in national heads to heads