Earlier this week, Gallup reported:
Mitt Romney and Rick Perry are, in a broad sense, about equally well-liked by Republicans who are familiar with them, with 73% saying they have a favorable opinion of Perry and 71% of Romney. However, 29% of Republicans familiar with Perry have a strongly favorable opinion of him, compared with 15% who say the same about Romney. As a result, Perry's Positive Intensity Score -- which takes into account strongly favorable and strongly unfavorable opinions -- is twice that of Romney's, 25 to 12.
These results are based on Aug. 22-Sept. 4 Gallup Daily tracking of Republican presidential candidate images. Perry and Romney are the leading candidates for the GOP nomination at this point in time, based on rank-and-file Republicans' current nomination preferences. Perry currently holds a 29% to 17% edge over Romney in preferences for the eight announced candidates; Romney had been the leader prior to Perry's official entry into the race in early August.
At The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, columnist Bud Kennedy asks a pair of political scientists about the race.
Obviously, they said, the campaign isn't over. But both agreed the calendar favors Perry.
"Perry has a pretty formidable advantage," said Adam Schiffer of Texas Christian University.
If anything, he said, Romney's performance solidified establishment voters who once nominated candidates such as George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole and John McCain.
But today's Tea Party voters want somebody to lead a rebellion.
That was an invitation-only debate crowd that cheered Perry's 234 executions.
Top rivals Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Ron Paul of Texas were shoved off center stage by MSNBC, making their task even tougher against Perry in conservative Iowa on Feb. 6 or South Carolina on Feb. 28.
"It was clearly set up as Romney vs. Perry with everybody else out in the chorus," Schiffer said.
With Bachmann fading, he said, "Perry will do really well early. The calendar helps him greatly."
At Tufts University in suburban Boston, professor Jeffrey Berry said Romney's campaigners are "street fighters."
"Romney has money, and he'll do whatever it takes," he said. "Social Security will be the issue now."
But with Iowa and South Carolina up early, he said, "a betting man would bet on the governor of Texas in those states."