The latest Rasmussen poll of likely voters, conducted one week after the most recent Republican presidential debate, shows Rick Perry with a 4-point lead (28 to 24 percent) over Mitt Romney. Perry’s lead has dropped by 7 points in the poll (from 11 to 4 points) since his first debate appearance. No other declared Republican candidate is in double digits.
After the two leaders, the poll shows Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, and Ron Paul in close succession, at 9, 8, 7, and 6 percent, respectively. Rick Santorum is at 3 percent, Jon Huntsman at 2, and Thad McCotter (a Michigan congressman, in case you were wondering) at 1.
Of the two leading candidates, Perry has the higher net favorability rating among those who feel strongly: +24 for Perry to +17 for Romney. Bachmann’s net favorability rating among those who feel strongly is +8, while Paul’s is -6. (Such ratings aren’t provided for the other candidates.)
In the last two debates, Perry has largely been the person under attack. It will be interesting to see whether he will successfully steer tomorrow night’s debate toward his principles of job creation and economic growth, while taking more direct aim at Romney’s health care efforts in Massachusetts (and, of course, at President Obama’s health care efforts nationally), or whether this third debate (involving Perry) will largely mirror the first two. Also, with this increasingly looking like a two-horse race, it will be interesting to see which of the two leaders the other candidates will try to box in this time around.