Texas Governor Rick Perry’s fall from grace has finally manifested itself in the polls. According to the latest Washington Post/ABC News survey, Perry has seen a precipitous decline in support from Republicans nationwide. In September, Perry topped the GOP presidential field with 29 percent of the vote to Mitt Romney’s 23 percent. As of today, Romney is ahead of the pack with support from 21 percent of Republicans. Perry, on the other hand, has dropped to 14 percent support.
Of the other candidates, Georgia businessman Herman Cain has benefited most from Perry’s disastrous performance over the last month. At 14 percent support, he is now tied with Perry for the second place spot. It’s unclear as to whether this will actually mean anything for the elections next year, but for now, Cain is a focal point for Republicans who don’t want Romney and aren’t happy with Perry, either.
One thing worth noting from the poll is the extent to which Republican voters aren’t as concerned with electability as they are with ideological purity. Among those who lean Republican, only 20 percent favor a candidate who is “most likely to win” – 73 percent want someone who agrees with them on the issues. If anything, this is clear evidence of Romney’s tenuous status as front-runner. If Perry can shape up, reinforce his position as the “real conservative” in the race, and begin to press Romney on his ideological heterodoxy, then he might recover lost ground.