Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Is the electorate waking up to Rick Perry's extremism?

Maybe it's just that, with Perry front and center in the GOP at the moment, people are actually paying a bit of attention:

Americans strongly disagree with the statements Rick Perry made about Social Security in last week's Republican Presidential debate, and Barack Obama has nearly doubled his lead over Perry nationally in the span of just 3 weeks.

Only 20% of voters agree with Perry that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme to 70% who dissent from that statement. Democrats (4/87) and independents (20/69) are pretty universal in their disagreement with Perry and even Republicans (39/49) don't stand with him on this one. When it comes to the possibility of actually ending Social Security voters are even more unanimous -- 82% oppose taking that step to only 10% who would be supportive of it. If Perry ends up as the Republican nominee and Democrats can effectively convince the electorate that he does want to end Social Security it could be an extremely damaging issue for him.

In fact it appears that Perry's rhetoric on Social Security could already be causing him problems. When PPP did a national poll three weeks ago Barack Obama led Perry by only 6 points at 49-43.  Now that gap has widened to 11 points at 52-41.

Hypothetical general election polls aren't all that significant this far out, but the point is, it would be extremely difficult for Perry, should he win the GOP nomination, to win independents, not to mention those Democrats who occupy the "center" (the Joe Liebermans and Ben Nelsons of the party) and who just might be willing to vote Republican given the right candidate (assuming they dislike Obama, who has actually been a committed centrist from day one).

Perry is an extremist pretty much across the board, with immigration the notable exception, but no one really knows what Tentherism is, or pays much attention to his pro-secession neo-Confederate nationalism record, or appreciates the extent of his theocratism. His fundamentalism could scare off non-Republican voters, to be sure, and his anti-gay bigotry wouldn't go over all that well, but Social Security is different -- more immediate. Voters get that. They care about Social Security, don't think it's a Ponzi scheme, and want it protected. They certainly don't want it "reformed" (i.e., destroyed).

General election voters would ultimately recoil from Perry, I suspect, just as they would from Bachmann, and even as they might from Romney (given how he's had to play to the hard right and will have to keep doing so if he has any shot at the nomination), but we're already seeing the signs of deep-seated disapproval.

He's still the frontrunner, perhaps, but, outside of Republican primary circles, way over on the right, the more people learn about Perry, the less they like him. All the Texan swagger in the world won't change that.

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  • Perry is Bush 2.0 ... not quite as smart and just a little more evil. The general election is going to be a very difficult contest for the swaggering bunghole from the Lone Star State.

    By Anonymous chris, at 12:12 PM  

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