A new PPP survey shows Rick Perry jumping out to a huge lead in South Carolina -- that state which has often served as a tiebreaker in primary elections.
1. Rick Perry 36%
2. Mitt Romney 13%
3. Sarah Palin 10%
4. Herman Cain 9%
5. Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich 5%
7. Ron Paul 5%
8. Rick Santorum 4%
9. Jon Huntsman 2%
a. Rick Perry 65%/15% for +50%.
b. Herman Cain 46%/11% for +35%.
c. Sarah Palin 59%/33% for +26%.
d. Mitt Romney 52%/32% for +20%.
e. Newt Gingrich 42%/40% for +2%.
f. Ron Paul 35%/35% for even.
g. Jon Huntsman 11%/26% for -15%.
If Rick Perry were matched straight up against Mitt Romney, the Texas gov would win by 31%. That's impressive. More impressive? Even with a bunch of tea party candidates (e.g. Cain, Palin, Bachmann, Paul) in the mix, Perry holds a 23% lead over Romney.
Meanwhile, Romney would edge Bachmann by 5% in a head-to-head, which means this isn't just an anyone-but-Romney phenomenon. Perry performs 36% better against Romney in a head-to-head than Bachmann.
For his part, Perry also crushes Bachmann by 43%, which shows, yet again, that Bachmann's best day (straw poll in Iowa) was probably her worst (Perry officially gets in).
2. Romney's Fade.
The fade -- now, it's not just a Dominique Wilkins haircut. One month ago, Romney led the state by 9% over Palin. Now, he's not even competitive. It goes to show how soft Romney's support was, as everyone guessed.
The question is whether his New Hampshire support is any harder, and the answer is probably "yes", since it's much more suited to him.
But having said that, how much of Romney's national support is soft? Obviously, a good deal, since Perry's already leap-frogged him, nationally. But are we down to the core Romney supporters now, or can he go even lower?
3. Conservatives go for Perry.
He's up 30% over Bachmann among the "very conservative". He leads Romney by an even bigger, 35%.
And very conservative voters are often the most likely to turn out.
Meanwhile, he's also cruising among those who are "somewhat conservative", with an 18% lead over Romney.
Mitt does win moderates, but by just 6%, and only 16% of the GOP electorate in South Carolina is like native daughter Kathleen Parker.
4. Palin's Fade. Not only has she dropped from 16% to 10%, but there's also a more troubling phenomenon at work.
Perry is killing her in favorability numbers. That's always been Palin's strong suit. Republican voters have always liked her, even though many haven't wanted to vote for her. But check it out: her unfavorables are twice as big as Perry's, and Perry's favorables run higher than hers, even though she has better name ID.
If Palin runs, she'll absolutely need South Carolina, and right now Perry has a
5. Huntsman's flag.
Yesterday, the state's Attorney General endorsed Huntsman, and Huntsman's chief strategist has promised he'll "plant a flag" in South Carolina. The state was also the scene of Huntsman's first address upon returning from China.
He's currently in last place, but has no reason to worry, since Huntsman told CBS last month that his campaign had a "terrific presence in early states" and was "exactly where we wanted to be." Sounds very Tim Pawlenty-esque, pre-drop out.