Rick Perry, conservative hero no longer

at 06:30 AM ET, 11/16/2011

When Texas Gov. Rick Perry entered the Republican presidential race in mid-August, he was touted as the candidate conservatives had been waiting for — the antidote to the more country club sort of appeal of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

No longer.


Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry waits to speak at the Scott County Republican Party's Ronald Reagan Dinner, Monday, Nov. 14, 2011, in Bettendorf, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Three months into his campaign, a new Washington Post-ABC News survey reveals that his numbers have not only fallen considerably among self-identified conservative Republicans, but also lag behind Romney and the majority of the other candidates for the GOP nomination.

Among all Republicans, 42 percent view Perry favorably while 38 percent see him in an unfavorable light. Perry’s unfavorable ratings have been ticking rapidly upwards — from 11 percent in September and 24 percent in October — a sign that the more the party gets to know him, the less they like him.

But the trouble for Perry is even more apparent when you drill down to only those who call themselves conservative Republicans — the people who tend to have outsized influence in picking the party’s presidential nominee.

In that subgroup, 47 percent view Perry favorably while 39 percent regarded him unfavorably. That’s compared to a 55 percent-26 percent split for Perry in the October Post-ABC poll and a 55 percent-7 percent split in September.

Perry struggles not only in comparison to his own past standing in the polls but also when matched up against his Republican rivals.

Businessman Herman Cain has trudged through a series of sexual harassment charges in recent weeks but retained a 54 percent favorable rating and a 34 percent unfavorable rating in the latest Post-ABC poll among conservative Republicans.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had a stellar 65 percent favorable and 19 percent unfavorable among conservative Republicans in the November Post-ABC poll, while Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) had a 66 percent favorable and 13 percent unfavorable in a late September survey.

Even Romney — 60 percent favorable/25 percent unfavorable in an October poll — performed far better among conservative GOPers than Perry.

These poll numbers paint a grim picture for Perry as he and his team try to find a path back to relevance after his now famous/infamous “oops” moment in a debate in Michigan last week.

Perry’s natural constituency within the GOP is on the party’s ideological right. His erosion among that bloc of voters suggests he may not have any base on which to fall back as he tries to rebuild his campaign in advance of the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses.

More mixed messages from Cain: Cain’s campaign continues to struggle with getting its story straight.

After the candidate said this week that he supports collective bargaining rights for union employees — a position Cain repeated Tuesday morning at an appearance in Dubuque, Iowa, his campaign clarified that he supported Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) effort to eliminate that very right.

“Mr. Cain was consistent in his Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel editorial board meeting yesterday and has always supported Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s legislation to balance his state budget and give his state’s government the tools it needs during the ongoing economic crisis,” the campaign said in a statement.

Earlier Tuesday, Cain said this: “Collective bargaining done the right way, yes. Now add this point. Make sure we get this point in. It should not be mandatory. That’s one of the problems that some states have. It shouldn’t be mandatory.”

The collective bargaining issue was at the heart of what Walker was proposing, so it’s hard to see how Cain’s campaign marries his support of Walker with his support for collective bargaining — “mandatory” or not.

Fixbits:

Iowa conservative leader Bob vander Plaats has some choice words for Romney after Romney skipped a vander Plaats forum. Vander Plaats says Romney might not be “smart enough” to be president. Ouch.

New Hampshire Union-Leader publisher Joe McQuaid says Cain has asked that his editorial board interview with the paper not be filmed by CSPAN. “What’s up with that?” muses McQuaid.

Cain says medical marijuana is a state’s rights issue, breaking with many conservatives.

The Georgia GOP plans a presidential debate.

The team at Smart Politics notes that Gingrich would set a record for longest time out of public office when he was elected president.

Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) will host a forum with Gingrich.

Americans United for Change is going up with five-figure radio ad buys against Sens. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Senate candidate Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), focused on potential Medicare cuts.

Some House Democrats criticize the eviction of Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zucotti Park.

Asheville’s Democratic mayor, Terry Bellamy, will challenged Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), in his new district, where Asheville was added, making it more Democratic.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) endorses Brad Schneider in the race to face Rep. Bob Dold (R-Ill.), over a more liberal candidate backed by other House members.

New York City Councilman Charles Barron (D), who lost a close primary with Rep. Ed Towns (D-N.Y.) in 2006, is eyeing another run. Towns is one of many black members of Congress facing primaries.

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) was outspent by his GOP opponent before winning an October special election.

Must-reads:

GOP freshmen see fundraising dwindle” — Fredereka Schouten, USA Today

Perry calls for government overhaul” — Mike Glover, AP

Blue Dog Democrats won’t play dead” — Franco Ordonez, Charlotte Observer

As ‘historian,’ Gingrich was hired by Freddie Mac to win over Republicans” — James Oliphant, Los Angeles Times

Ron Paul’s path to the White House goes through Nevada” — Jason M. Volack, ABC News

Auditor says FHA could need bailout” — Annie Lowery, New York Times

Why Newt is next in line” — Ronald Brownstein, National Journal

 
Read what others are saying