Susan Page on USA Today/Gallup's latest poll:
The survey, taken Thursday through Sunday, charts a GOP field that seems headed toward a showdown between Perry, with 31% backing, and Romney, at 24%.
Bachmann was at 10% in late August and at 13% in early August, before Perry jumped in.
The poll reminded me how many of Bachmann's supporters at the Ames straw poll--who should have been her most dedicated supporters--didn't seem very committed to her. "She's not my final choice, she's my present choice," as one Iowan put it. And sure enough, Bachmann has slipped behind Perry in Iowa and was neck-and-neck with Romney in second place in the most recent polling.
Anything is possible, but it's hard to see how Bachmann makes a comeback against Perry at this point. Her HPV vaccine attack boomeranged against her when she repeated a woman's claim that the vaccine can cause "mental retardation" and then refused to apologize. During an appearance on Jay Leno Friday night, Bachmann was still asserting, contrary to scientific evidence, that the vaccine could potentially have "dangerous side effects."
But the poll isn't all good news for Rick Perry. Although he leads Romney nationally among Republicans, in the general election Perry trails Obama 45% to 50%, while Romney leads Obama 49% to 47% among registered voters: