NEW ORLEANS, LA - JUNE 18: Texas governor Rick Perry speaks during the 2011 Republican Leadership Conference on June 18, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Justin Sullivan/GETTY IMAGES)

Among announced candidates, Romney dominates the GOP field — relatively speaking — with 27 percent of the vote. But if both Perry and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin were to enter now, Romney and Perry would be basically tied, 17 to 15 percent.

That’s only if Palin and Perry got into the race. If it’s just Perry, he gets a still notable 18 percent to Romney’s 23 percent — second-place status, but not first place.

Other recent polls have shown Perry rising. A recent McClatchy poll survey found the Texas governor in second place with 15 percent among registered Republicans. The Post’s most recent survey gives the Texas governor 8 percent, in fourth place behind Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).

Polls this far out measure name recognition more than anythin other factor. Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) polls about as well as Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) in many surveys. That doesn’t mean Giulia ni has as good a chance of winning (he’s not running; Bachmann is). Bachmann has a ground game and a network of grassroots support, and has been rising in polls, particularly in Iowa. Giuliani has national name recognition, but given his poor showing in 2008 few expect that to turn into ballot success.

Right now, in a match-up with Obama, Perry fares no better than the generic Republican. His poll numbers mean he’s pretty well-known, even without an actual campaign or any national bids in his past. Were he to jump into the 2012 battle, the governor’s numbers could grow, as Bachmann’s have, as voters get to know him better. Or he could stumble under the increased scrutiny and start to slide, as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) seems to be doing.

Perry isn’t even on the ballot in next month’s Ames straw poll in Iowa, so it’s hard to gauge the depth of his support in Iowa. A University of New Hampshire poll gave him only 4 percent in that state.

The fact that Giuliani, Palin or Perry would all draw votes away from Romney suggests that the Massachusetts’ governor’s hold on the frontrunner title is weak. We just don’t know if Perry is the candidate to take the first-place trophy from him.

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