Electability Becoming A Factor In Romney/Perry GOP Battle

In the battle for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination between Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Gallup indicates that general election electability is beginning to become an issue for Republican primary voters.

Perry seems to have momentum, but that could be slowed in the coming weeks if Republicans start to perceive that Romney is more electable in the general election. The new poll finds the slight majority of Republicans, 53%, prefer to see their party nominate the person who has the best chance of beating Obama, even if that person does not agree with them on almost all of the issues they care about. Forty-three percent would prefer a candidate who does agree with them on almost all of the issues, even if that person does not have the best chance of winning in November 2012.

Romney currently edges out President Barack Obama by 49% to 47% in national registered-voter preferences for the November election, while Perry trails Obama by 45% to 50%. However, neither Romney nor Obama is ahead by a statistically significant margin.

Perry voters are slightly more likely than Romney voters to favor a candidate with the best chance of winning (59% vs. 52%). Thus, if Romney’s edge in general election trial heats persists, some Perry voters might be swayed to back Romney instead.

It is unclear whether Perry fails to perform as well as Romney does against Obama because he is a less appealing candidate or because he is less well known. Gallup Daily tracking of Republicans’ familiarity with the various Republican presidential candidates over the last 14 days finds that more Republicans still recognize Romney (85%) than Perry (76%). Still, the gap has narrowed considerably since July, when 86% recognized Romney and only 55% Perry. The current gap is likely to be even larger among independents and Democrats, who may be paying less attention to the Republican debates and news about the campaign in which Perry has received a great deal of national exposure.

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