After Monday’s debate in Florida, most people expected Rick Perry’s rapid rise to the top of the polls for Republican presidential candidates to slow or halt, having taken a beating over the Gardasil mandate and immigration. His attack on Social Security was supposed to scare off seniors. However, as RealClearPolitics reported last night, a new poll by Insider Advantage shows Perry grabbing a nine-point lead in the Sunshine State in a survey taken the next day:
The poll, conducted by Insider Advantage for the Florida Times-Union, shows Perry leading the field with 29 percent support. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney comes in second with 20 percent support. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is a distant third with 9 percent. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann has 8 percent support, businessman Herman Cain has 6 percent, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul has 5 percent. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum garners 2 percent support, and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman rounds out the field with just over 1 percent. …
The poll was conducted the day after the Republican candidates debated in Tampa, Fla. Perry came under heavy fire at the debate from his GOP rivals, who hit went after him over his comments about Social Security, illegal immigration and his effort to require that young girls in Texas be vaccinated against the cancer-causing human papillomavirus. However, the poll indicates that the criticism hasn’t prevented the Texas governor from establishing himself as the front-runner in a state that could be crucial, if not decisive, in the GOP presidential race.
The last significant statewide poll, from respected pollster Mason-Dixon, took place the week after Perry got into the race. Romney led by seven points in that poll, 28/21, and even at that time Michele Bachmann trailed significantly at 13%. This would be a sixteen-point swing in the gap between the two frontrunners in three weeks.
The Insider Advantage poll’s demographics are interesting. Perry wins two-thirds of the 18-29YO vote, with Ron Paul coming in second at 12.9% and Gingrich third at 9.9%. Romney and Bachmann, along with all of the other candidates, don’t get a single vote in this category. Perry leads in all age demographics except the 65+, perhaps a result of the Social Security debate — but he still comes in second with 22.6% of the vote to Romney’s 30.9%. Among white voters, Perry leads 26/21, but he takes nearly half of the Hispanic vote with 48%. Bachmann comes in second in this demo with 23.9%, followed by Romney at 12.7%. Perry leads among men and women, but does much better with men (35/19), barely edging Romney with the latter (22/20). Bachmann, surprisingly, finishes behind Gingrich with both genders as she does overall.
The poll was conducted on Tuesday and consists of likely primary voters. It might take a couple of days for the dust to completely settle after a debate, but since this debate took place in Florida, one could assume that likely voters in that state paid close attention to the debate in their own backyard. So far it seems that Perry hasn’t done any damage to himself, and that his opponents aren’t finding an argument to slow him down — at least not yet. Gardasil probably won’t cure their ills.
Update: Perry also grabs the lead in the latest Bloomberg national poll, 26/22 over Romney, with Bachmann at 9% and Palin at 8%. However, this poll was taken before the debate on Monday.