Without even entering the race for Republican nominee for 2012, Texas Gov. Rick Perry comes in a close second to Mitt Romney and ahead of Michele Bachmann in today’s newest Rasmussen Poll:
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Republican Primary Voters finds Romney earning 22% support, closely followed by Perry, the Texas governor who is expected to enter the race soon, with 18% of the vote. Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is in third place with 16%.
But the key figures to watch are those that show that among Likely Republican Primary Voters, 39% identify themselves as members of the Tea Party, while 43% say they’re not, with a mysterious 17% saying they’re not sure whether they are or aren’t.
Tea Partiers favor Perry as their first choice, while non-Tea Party Republicans favor Romney: “Perry leads among Tea Party members with 28% support. Bachmann runs second in this group with 22% of the vote, with Romney at 16% closely followed by Cain’s 13%. Among primary voters who are not Tea Party members, Romney captures 29% of the vote. Perry (13%), Bachmann (11%) and Paul (10%) follow at a distance.”
Of course, Perry’s numbers with all groups could eclipse Romney’s is he were to declare himself a candidate for the Presidency. As of this writing, he has not done so.