-In another sign of his strength as he prepares to enter the Presidential race Rick Perry leads the Republican field in Virginia, pointing to the possibility for him to be a very strong candidate particularly in the South. He gets 20% to 16% for Mitt Romney, 15% for Michele Bachmann, 13% for Sarah Palin, 6% each for Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich, 2% for Tim Pawlenty, and 1% for Jon Huntsman.
What might be most impressive about Perry's lead is that it comes despite his lagging the rest of the top contenders in name recognition. Palin's known to 90% of GOP primary voters, Romney to 83%, and Bachmann to 80%. But despite only 62% of Republicans knowing enough about Perry to have an opinion about him he still comes out tops in the horse race.
Perry's first place finish is derived from his strength with the far right. Among 'very conservative' voters he's at 28% with Bachmann getting 20%, Palin 15%, and Romney in a distant fourth place at 12%. Romney leads the way with moderates and voters who are only 'somewhat conservative.' But that 'very conservative' segment is the largest part of the GOP electorate and propels Perry to the overall lead.
If you take Palin out of the picture though Bachmann gets much more of her support than anyone else and it takes her to the top at 21% with Perry and Romney each getting 18%, and Cain the only other person in double digits at 10%. That's another reminder that Palin's decision on whether or not to run has huge implications for Bachmann- if Palin gets in it may effectively scuttle Bachmann's chances at the nomination. If Palin stays out she has a fighting chance.
-Apparently playing a large role in a move that no one saw- The Undefeated- didn't do much to enhance Jamie Radtke's chances at winning the GOP Senate nomination. George Allen is polling at 68% to 6% for Radtke, 2% each for Tim Donner and E.W. Jackson, and 0% for David McCormick.
You could say Allen's huge lead over Radtke is just about name recognition but it actually speaks to a larger truth- GOP voters don't think Allen's too liberal and they're not looking for a more conservative alternative to him. Since those are the premises Radtke's campaign is built on she doesn't have much of a chance. 67% of primary voters think Allen is ideologically 'about right' compared to just 7% who think he's too liberal. There are actually slightly more- 9%- who think he's too conservative than think he's too liberal.
When we polled Virginia in late February Allen led a generic 'more conservative' challenger by 27 points at 52-25. Now that margin's expanded even further to 35 points at 58-23. A seriously contested primary for Allen was already a long shot. Now it's looking like an even longer shot.
-Poor Bill Bolling. He's been toiling as Lieutenant Governor of Virginia for almost 6 years now, ostensibly so that he can run for Governor some day. And now after less than 2 years in office Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has cut him in line. Cuccinelli leads Bolling 45-21 in an early look ahead to the 2013 race for Governor. He is particularly strong with the far right as you would expect, leading 56-15 with 'very conservative' voters. But he's up 40-22 with moderates and 34-25 with 'somewhat conservative' voters as well.
Cuccinelli has simply become much better known than Bolling is. 71% of GOP primary voters have an opinion about him and they break down favorably 56/15. Only 41% know Bolling and they break down 28% favorable and 13% unfavorable.
Obviously a whole lot could change in the next two years but if I was Bolling I might have a back up plan for my political future- Cuccinelli's going to be very tough to beat in a Republican primary.
Full results here