GOP shuffle – Texas Gov. Rick Perry surged to the top of the field in the race for the Republican presidential nomination in a Gallup poll released Wednesday. This is the first high quality national poll in which former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has not been at the top among Republicans and GOP leaning independents. Perry wins 29 percent support to 17 percent for Romney, followed by Ron Paul (R-Texas) at 13 percent and Michele Bachmann (R.-Minn.) at 10 percent. The rest of the announced GOP candidates were in single digits. Perry is up 11 percentage points from July, before he had officially announced his candidacy.

Perry is drawing strength from two key Republican constituencies – conservatives and Southerners. Perry doubles the level of Romney’s support among conservatives, 33 to 16 percent. And he more than triples the support of Romney in the South, 39 to 12 percent.

Economic gloom, Obama holds tight – An AP poll released Thursday finds almost half the public saying the economy worsened in the past month. That’s the worst monthly assessment by more than 21 percentage points in AP polls going back to September 2009. Only 21 percent think the country is heading in the right direction, close to AP’s all time low of 17 percent in the wake of the financial meltdown in October 2008.

President Obama’s job approval rating has dipped to 46 percent and is 10 points lower for his handling of the economy, both new low points in AP polls. Despite these deep troubles, slight majorities still have a favorable impression of the president, believe he understands people’s problems, is caring and is a strong leader. What that means come November 2012 is a toss-up. Just as many say he deserves to be re-elected as should be voted out.

Steve Jobs and Apple – Apple’s chief executive Steve Jobs abruptly announced his retirement Wednesday. Jobs drew a high profile and high praise in the business world as a technology executive of an iconic and immensely profitable company. But he was well known to the general public too. Over four in 10 correctly named him as CEO of Apple in a June 2010 Pew poll. That’s almost twice the number able to identify Eric Holder as U.S. Attorney General in the same poll. The popularity of Apple’s products speaks for itself based on booming sales. But a 2007 Pew poll rating a variety of major U.S. corporations found 71 percent had a favorable opinion of the company, before the release of the iPhone or iPad.

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