Republican Preferences Shift Again: If Christie Joined In, It Could Be A Three-Way Race

September 29, 2011, 5:00 PM GMT+0

Texas Governor Rick Perry had held a (shrinking) lead over former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in Economist/YouGov polls in the weeks since Perry entered the race. This week, a new potential candidate was added to the list — New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Perry, Romney and now Christie make the race for the GOP nomination effectively a three-way. 

Among potential Republican primary voters (registered voters who say they will vote in a Republican primary or caucus next year), Chris Christie and Mitt Romney register 15% support, while Perry receives 14%. Other candidates trail behind the leaders. However, businessman Herman Cain captured 11% this week, following his Florida straw poll victory.

Republican flirtation with new contenders as they emerge is underscored by the relatively small percentage of GOP voters who say they are satisfied with the field of announced candidates. 40% are satisfied, but a third wants someone currently not running, and another 28% just aren’t sure. 

Christie’s support comes from both Republican voters who identify with the Tea Party and those who do not. Favorable evaluations of him among GOP voters outpace unfavorable ones by more than three to one. Among all Americans, opinion of Christie is divided. 

Do you have a favorable or an unfavorable opinion of the following people?

All respondentsRegistered voters likely to vote in a Republican primary or caucus

Mitt Romney







Chris Christie







Rick Perry







Opinion of Romney among the entire public is also divided. Republican voters like him, although a quarter are negative. Perry’s rating among GOP voters is somewhat less positive than those voters’ ratings for Romney and Christie. Overall, Americans view Perry unfavorably.

Looking at the two of those three candidates who have announced their candidacy, Republican voters — for the first time — clearly prefer Romney. Last week, Perry led Romney in the hypothetical matchup, 48% to 31%. This week, Romney leads by ten points. This may reflect reaction to last Thursday’s Fox News/Google Republican primary debate — or just the wearing off of the glow that accompanied Perry’s entrance into the race. 

In the other as-yet-hypothetical pairings, the November general election contest, all three Republicans run very close races against President Barack Obama. In fact, Romney leads the President by three points; Christie trails him by the same margin. Perry trails the Democrat by four. 

Photo source: Press Association

Economist/YouGov poll archives can found here.

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