According to a new PPP survey, Rick Perry’s Social Security tough talk has hurt him, but Obama’s focus on jobs has given him an 11 point lead, 52%-41% over Perry.
According to PPP, only 20% of those surveyed agree with Perry on Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. Seventy percent of those surveyed disagree. As expected Democrats strongly disagree with this statement, (4%-87%), but Perry is also losing Independents. By a margin of 20%-69%, Independents disagree with the Texas governor’s statements on Social Security.
The GOP’s problem is that Rick Perry polls very well with strongly conservative voters. Perry has a 68% approval rating among those who consider themselves strongly conservative. Perry has a 58% favorable rating with those who voted for John McCain in 2008. His favorability dropped to 44% with people who consider themselves somewhat conservative, and 19% with moderates. Overall, Perry has a 30% favorable rating, and a 50% unfavorable rating.
Mitt Romney has clearly become the moderate Perry alternative. Romney’s favorability rating with those who voted for John McCain is 57%. Romney has a favorable rating that 11 points higher than Perry’s with moderates, (30%-19%), 10 points higher with those who consider themselves somewhat conservative (54%-44%), but he gets crushed by Perry with those who are very conservative (68%-44%). Overall, Romney’s favorability rating is only 7 points higher than Perry’s, (37%-30%). His unfavorable rating is also 6 points lower than Perry’s (44%-50%).
Rick Perry’s statements on Social Security have cost him big in the hypothetical head to head match up with Obama. President has gone from a 6 point lead on Perry in August, (49-43%) to an 11 point lead in September, (52%-41%). The only Republican candidate who doesn’t trail President Obama by double digits is Mitt Romney, and the president has opened up a 4 point lead on Romney in the last month, (49%-45).
Obama’s jobs speech has helped him with Democrats and Independents. The president gained 4 points among Democrats who said that they would support Rick Perry in August (13%-9%), and 4 points with Democrats who said in August that they would support Mitt Romney (9%-5%). Obama has also made big gains with Independents. He leads Perry by 10 points with Independents, (48%-38%), and he has turned the race for Independents with Romney into a statistical dead heat, (44%-42%, Romney).
Obama has greatly improved his chances for reelection by proposing a jobs plan, and talking about jobs, jobs, jobs. Every time the Republican candidates are forced to talk about jobs and only respond with a call for more tax cuts, they appear to lose ground with voters.
If the focus on jobs explains Obama’s rise, Social Security is the reason behind Rick Perry’s slide.
Perry’s comments on Social Security have wrecked any chance that he once may have had with Democratic and Independent voters in the fall. Despite the fact that Romney holds many of the same positions as Perry on Social Security, he has been able to avoid the wrath of Independents so far by putting a more moderate spin on them.
The problem for both Mitt Romney and the Republican establishment is that ultra conservative voters are joyfully lapping up Rick Perry’s hardline rhetoric. While he is destroying his General Election chances, Rick Perry is solidifying his stronghold on the GOP nomination with his tough talk on Social Security.
Two of the first three states on the road to the GOP nomination, Iowa and South Carolina are states that Perry should win. Romney is a lock to win neighboring state New Hampshire, but what the Romney campaign thought would be an easy path to the nomination, will be dogfight with Rick Perry, and anyone who thinks that Republicans are suddenly going to get logical and pick their nominee based on electability has not been paying attention.
Mike Castle was the electable Republican in the 2010 Delaware US Senate GOP primary, and the tea party chose Christine O’Donnell. Any number of Republicans could have beaten Harry Reid in Nevada, but the tea party chose the one who couldn’t. Electability is Mitt Romney’s main argument, but electability doesn’t matter to the tea party backbone of the GOP primary electorate.
As long as Obama keeps talking about and working on creating jobs, you can expect his positive numbers to increase. Obama’s jobs speech is paying dividends. If a plan is passed, or even if the president continues to make jobs the focus of political debate, Obama will be in a good position heading into November. Social Security may help Rick Perry win the battle for the GOP nomination, but it will almost certainly lose him the war in November.