Poll: Gov. Perry top pick for GOP nominee among Tea Party

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) is the top choice of Tea Party supporters for a Republican presidential candidate, according to a new poll released Wednesday.

The Texas conservative, who's weighing a late entry into the field of GOP candidates, beats other candidates among members of the Tea Party, the conservative grassroots wing of the Republican Party that's battling to shape the race for the nomination.

Twenty percent of Tea Party supporters would like to see Perry as the nominee, according to a McClatchy-Marist poll released Wednesday. Perry displaces former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) as the top Tea Party candidate in Marist's April poll; Huckabee's since withdrawn from the race.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) is the second choice of the Tea Party, at 17 percent, followed by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) at 16 percent and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) at 12 percent.

The poll suggests that Perry might be well-positioned to seize the mantle of the Tea Party should he choose to enter the race. Bachmann made a play for those voters during her announcement this week, and could enjoy increased support after heavy media coverage this week.

Perry makes a strong showing in a test of all Republicans' and Republican-leaning independents' preference in a nominee. Romney leads the pack, at 19 percent, and Perry and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) are tied at second, at 13 percent, followed by Palin, at 11 percent.

None of them would beat Obama in a head-to-head matchup if the election were held today, though Romney fares best, as he has consistently in a number of polls. Obama would best Romney, 46-42 percent, among registered voters.

Still, the Marist poll could only be more enticing to somebody like Perry, Giuliani or Palin, all of whom are thinking about formally entering the race for president. That temptation could be compounded by a New York Times/CBS poll on Wednesday, which showed that no candidate currently in the race enjoys enthusiastic support from Republican voters.

Seventy percent of Republican voters said in the NYT poll that they wanted more candidates to join the race, compared to 23 percent who were satisfied with the current field.

The McClatchy/Marist poll, conducted June 15-23, has a 5.5 percent margin of error for the Republican subset, and a 3.5 percent margin of error for the subset of registered voters. It's not clear how many Tea Party supporters were interviewed, but the margin of error is almost certainly higher. The CBS/NYT poll has a 6 percent margin of error for Republican voters.

Updated 12:45 p.m.

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