Texas Governor Rick Perry remains in front of the rest of the GOP field — announced and unannounced — as the choice of registered voters who say they will participate in a Republican primary or caucus next year — but one issue finds those voters disagreeing with Perry. In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, Republican voters oppose Perry’s decision to require middle-school girls to be vaccinated against the human papilloma virus, which is sexually transmitted and is the leading cause of cervical cancer.
44% of GOP voters oppose Perry’s decision, while 33% support it. The nation as a whole is more closely divided.
One of Perry’s Republican opponents, Minnesota Congressman Michele Bachmann, attacked Perry’s decision during and after the most recent GOP debate. Perry’s executive order did allow parents to opt out of the vaccinations, but Bachmann attacked the decision by claiming that the vaccine had extreme negative side effects, such as “mental retardation.” Americans don’t believe vaccines cause developmental difficulties, though a third says it’s at least “possible” that they do. A plurality of Republican voters also agrees that vaccines do not cause developmental difficulties.
Most Americans accept only one reason for opting out of required vaccinations for schoolchildren, and that is a medical condition. 55% would support opting out for that reason. 27% would let parents opt out because of potential side effects, but only 21% agree that religious beliefs justify exempting a child from required vaccinations. 26% of Republicans voters would exempt those with religious beliefs against vaccinations.
Perry is still the frontrunner in this week’s Economist/YouGov Poll, leading Romney by eight points. Texas Congressman Ron Paul runs well, but Bachmann, who once was near the top of the field, is back in single digits.
Perry gets support from 30% of those GOP voters who identify with the Tea Party; among those who do not, 19% support Romney and 19% support Perry. Surprisingly, perhaps, Bachmann fares not much better with Tea Party GOP voters than with those who do not identify with the Tea Party.
Photo source: Press Association