Perry and Gingrich inch their way back to form new second tier

at 01:31 PM ET, 11/04/2011

Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich have recovered some of the ground that they lost and are back in double digits in the GOP presidential race, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The two men now make up, along with Rep. Ron Paul (Texas), a pretty distinct new second tier in a race that hasn’t really had defined tiers until now — apart from the top tier, of course.

The two men have now positioned themselves as potential beneficiaries if Herman Cain ’s problems persist and his supporters desert him. But they need some help.

The new poll showed Perry, the Texas governor, at 13 percent and Gingrich, the former House speaker, at 12 percent. Both are about 10 points off the pace set by Cain and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. Paul follows at 8 percent, and “no other candidate” is at about 4 percent.
Republican Presidential candidate and Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks at the ISO Poly Films plant in South Carolina last week. (AP Photo/ Richard Shiro)

The recovery is notable for Perry and Gingrich because both men had seen their personal favorability numbers worsen and their supporters migrate elsewhere after some hiccups in their campaigns.

That weakening seems to have stopped and has actually reversed to some degree.

For Perry, the news is particularly encouraging because he has the money of a frontrunner and could pretty quickly become a contender again. He’s already running ads in the early states and is benefitting from another ad buy from a super PAC that is supporting his candidacy.

For Gingrich, the ascent needs to translate into better fundraising. His campaign has been in financial straits for much of the year and remained more than $1 million in debt at the end of the third quarter, after raising just $800,000 in three months and banking $350,000 cash on hand.

Both men, though, probably need some help if they are to reach the top tier again. That’s because they’re drawing from pretty much the same pool of voters as Cain — that is, the most conservative of GOP voters.

While Romney’s support is much higher among moderate Republicans, Cain, Gingrich and Perry all get much more support from Republicans who describe themselves as conservative.

Romney gets 31 percent of self-described moderate and liberal Republicans, and just 21 percent of conservative Republicans. Cain, meanwhile, gets 17 percent of moderate-to-liberal GOPers, but 26 percent of the conservative vote.

Both Gingrich and Perry have about twice as much support among more conservative Republicans as than from moderate-to-liberal GOPers.

That means it will be harder for them to jump from the second to the top tier. But for now, the second tier is a marked improvement for both Perry and Gingrich.

 
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