Tea Party Supporters Backing Perry for GOP Nomination

by Jeffrey M. Jones

Perry leads by 21 percentage points over Romney, Bachmann among this group

PRINCETON, NJ -- Rick Perry's candidacy has attracted strong initial support from Republicans who identify themselves as supporters of the Tea Party movement. Perry leads by 21 percentage points over the closest contenders among this group, Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann. Among Republicans who say they do not support the Tea Party movement, Romney and Perry are essentially tied.

Republican Nomination Preferences, by Support for Tea Party Movement, August 2011

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These results are based on an Aug. 17-21 Gallup poll, which showed Perry overtaking Romney as the front-runner for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination among all Republicans nationwide.

The poll finds that 58% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents identify themselves as supporters of the Tea Party movement, with 36% saying they do not consider themselves supporters. Included among the group of Tea Party supporters is a smaller group -- representing 12% of Republicans -- who say they are "strong" supporters of the movement. Among this smaller group, Perry's lead is even greater, 46% to 16%, over Bachmann, with all other candidates in single digits.

In Gallup's July measurement of Republicans' nomination preferences, before Perry officially entered the race, Romney held a slight edge over Bachmann among Tea Party supporters, 29% to 23%. Romney led Paul by 25% to 16% among nonsupporters.

Perry Leads Among Government Power, Values Voters

Given a choice of four sets of issues, Republicans are most likely to say business and economy (38%) and government power and spending (36%) are the most important to them. Fewer Republicans rank social issues and moral values (15%) and national security and foreign policy (9%) as their top issues.

Perry, not surprisingly given his lead among Tea Party supporters, is the preferred candidate among Republicans who identify "government spending and power" as the set of issues most important to them. Perry is the top choice of 31% of these Republicans, with Romney (17%), Paul (13%), and Bachmann (12%) vying for second place.

But Perry also has a slight edge over Romney, 25% to 19%, among Republicans who say business and the economy is their top issue. Romney, a wealthy businessman, has argued his business credentials make him better suited to solve the economic problems facing the country than candidates who lack significant private-sector experience.

The relatively small group of social issues and moral values voters give Perry a sizable advantage over any other candidate.

Republican Nomination Preferences, by Most Important Issue, August 2011

Implications

Perry has immediately become the preferred Republican nomination candidate of Tea Party movement supporters and, by extension, those who view government spending and power as the most important issue. He also demonstrates strong appeal to moral values voters, and is competitive with Romney among Republicans rating business and the economy as the most important issue.

Perry will attempt to consolidate the support of these constituencies in the coming months as he begins his nomination campaign in earnest, including participating for the first time in candidate debates next month. Whether he is able to solidify his status as the new front-runner, or whether it turns out to be a temporary response to the excitement generated by his entry into the race, will become apparent in future Gallup updates of Republicans' nomination preferences.

Track every angle of the presidential race on Gallup.com's Election 2012 page.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Aug. 17-21, 2011, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 1,040 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of Republicans, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2010 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.

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