Remember what Jon Stewart noted about Rick Perry's post-debate instinctive appeal to Republicans? It went something like: Mitt Romney's chart-based wonkery won't hold a candle to the inexplicable, magnetic pull of the Perry one-liner. The Texas governor is still leading in the latest tally by CNN/Opinion Research, which has him leading with 32 percent, well ahead of second-place Romney's 21 percent. Libertarian darling Ron Paul is the only other candidate in double digits, at 13 percent, while Michele Bachmann, who had been surging in the summer, is now tied for fourth place with Newt Gingrich at 7 percent.
The reason for the preference for Perry looks pretty clear from the poll: Republican primary voters want someone who can beat Barack Obama, and Perry's tops on that list. According to CNN, 42 percent of voters leaning toward the GOP think he's got the best shot of beating Obama in a head-to-head match up compared with 26 percent who like Romney.
The survey also found Perry to be the "strongest leader" in the field by a 15 point margin over Romney. But those measures may not even be the most concerning part for Mitt. The former Massachusetts governor, whose staked his candidacy this time around on being the guy who says the word "jobs" the most, is even losing to Rick Perry on hypothetical handling the economy. From the poll: "35 percent say Perry is the Republican candidate most likely to get the economy moving again, with Romney in second at 26 percent."