Romney, favored by 16 percent in the annual Texas Lyceum poll, is the presumptive national front-runner for the Republican nomination, while Palin (14 percent) and Perry have not announced their intention to run.A UT/Texas Tribune poll in late May indicated only 4 percent of Texas Republicans said they'd give Perry their votes for president. Sarah Palin led that field at 12 percent, followed by Newt Gingrich at 11 percent, and Mike Huckabee with 10 percent. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota were in a tie for fourth place at 7 percent each. Since then, Huckabee has declined a presidential run, and Gingrich has stumbled badly. Many of his campaign staffers, formerly with Perry's 2010 gubernatorial campaign, walked out en mass.
Several caveats, however, are in order. The presidential preference results have a large margin of error — 8 percentage points — and the Texas primaries are still nine months away.
If Perry were to formally launch a campaign, his support would rise in Texas, though how far is an interesting question, said Bruce Buchanan, a University of Texas government professor.
"In Texas, what's causing me to hesitate is a sense that people have supported Perry strongly for governor, but they have to think about him as president," Buchanan said. "If he did jump into the race, would his polls jump up? Most probably. But I don't know if they would jump up enough to catapult him into front-runner status, not until he showed his chops, so to speak."
The new poll was conducted two weeks after another state survey showed Perry trailing most Republican hopefuls in Texas, with only 4 percent of GOP voters favoring their governor as a candidate.
But the latest poll, conducted May 24-31, came after increasing speculation about a Perry candidacy and amid Perry's May 27 announcement that he would consider running for president, ramping up state and national media coverage of the governor.
The telephone poll of 707 adults was conducted for the Texas Lyceum, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of community and professional leaders under age 46.
Texas poll numbers notwithstanding, Perry's people are surveying the political landscape in Iowa.