ByÂ Taylor West and Peter Bell, National Journal
Texas Gov.Â Rick Perry may be surging in polls of Republican primary voters, but his party’s Insiders aren’t convinced he’d be the best general election candidate. More than two-thirds of Republican Insiders sayÂ Mitt Romney has a better chance than Perry of defeating PresidentÂ Obama in 2012, according to this week’sÂ National Journal Political Insiders Poll.
Many Republican Insiders acknowledged Perry’s appeal to conservatives but questioned his ability to win over independent voters. “Perry can fire up the base, but this election will be won in the middle, not on the fringes,” said one. Said another, “Having trouble ID-ing a single independent who’d vote for Perry.”
Democratic Insiders echoed that assessment by an even larger majority. “This election is sitting on a platter for Republicans if they do it right,” said one. “Romney is probably good enough. Perry will get drilled by independent voters and women.” Another quipped, “Rick Perry is all base and no swing.”
Insiders in both parties raised questions about Perry’s durability under the intense scrutiny of a presidential campaign. “As a conservative Republican, I love Rick Perry,” said one Republican Insider, who added “but as a campaign strategist, I know the degree to which a few self-reinforcing oppo-hits can devastate a candidate.” A Democratic Insider said plainly, “Perry’s mouth will do him in.”
Republicans and Democrats alike also pointed to Perry’s similarities to another Texas governor as a liability. “Obama’s best argument may be, ‘We won’t go back,'” said one Republican Insider. “Why make it easy for them by nominating someone who can’t help but remind voters ofÂ George W. Bush?”
Romney’s strength in the poll wasn’t solely based on concerns about Perry. Insiders identified Romney’s business background, his veteran campaign team, and his appeal to moderate voters as key general election strengths. “Romney has more national experience and more seasoned players, will trip himself up less, and will more successfully make the president’s performance the central issue,” said a Republican Insider.
A Democratic Insider added, “There is no state Perry can win that Mitt Romney won’t. There are some states Romney can put into play (MA, OH, PA, NH) that are harder for Perry to win.”
Still, some Republican Insiders see Perry’s outsized personality and ability to appeal to the party’s base as beneficial in a race against Obama. “Romney can’t match Obama in personality, but Perry can,” said one. Another added, “Perry excites the base and unifies the Reagan coalition. Romney doesn’t.”
One Democratic Insider agreed, warning against underestimating Perry. “It’s 1980 again. Some think Perry is too extreme, but it is his ability to appear genuine and confident that voters will remember.”
TheÂ National Journal Political Insiders Poll is a regular survey of political operatives, strategists, campaign consultants and lobbyists in both parties. Below are the names of the Political Insiders who are surveyed:
To read more, visit:Â http://hotlineoncall.nationaljournal.com/archives/2011/09/insiders-gop-wo.php
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