The race for the Republican presidential nomination has been shaping up as a two-man race since Texas Governor Rick Perry entered the contest last month, and Perry continues to lead former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney when the two are pitted against all other possible Republican candidates, although that gap has narrowed since last week. But Perry and Romney are effectively tied in this week’s Economist/YouGov Poll among registered voters who say they will vote in next year’s GOP primaries and caucuses when the two men are matched head to head. Perry gets 41%, Romney 38%.
Perry runs best in his home region, the South, and is heavily favored by conservative GOP voters and Tea Party identifiers. Romney is ahead with non-conservative Republicans voters and with the 60% who do not identify with the Tea Party.
In the broader contest, Perry leads Romney by seven points — 24% to 17%. Candidates like Texas Congressman Ron Paul, businessman Herman Cain, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and the as-yet-announced former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin are tightly bunched in high single digits. Perry does so well because he holds a wide lead with Republican voters who identify with Tea Party — but he remains close to Romney among those who do not.