Hey, Guess What? Perry Won That Debate Down In Florida After All

When Rick Perry got into the GOP presidential race last month, Mason-Dixon went down to Florida and polled that state on the Republican field. In that poll, Mitt Romney – who has been up one side of that state and down the other over the last five years – led Perry by a 28-21 margin.

So after Monday’s debate in Tampa, which the elite media types characterized as a loss by Perry amid attacks from the other candidates on stage and a win by the “polished, relaxed” Romney, you’d expect Perry to have dropped, right?

Right?

A poll conducted by Insider Advantage on behalf of the Florida Times-Union was released last night covering Republican voters in the Sunshine State in the aftermath of the debate…

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has surged into a lead over his GOP rivals in the key state of Florida, according to a new poll.

The poll, conducted by Insider Advantage for the Florida Times-Union, shows Perry leading the field with 29 percent support. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney comes in second with 20 percent support. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is a distant third with 9 percent. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann has 8 percent support, businessman Herman Cain has 6 percent, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul has 5 percent. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum garners 2 percent support, and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman rounds out the field with just over 1 percent…

The poll was conducted the day after the Republican candidates debated in Tampa, Fla. Perry came under heavy fire at the debate from his GOP rivals, who went after him over his comments about Social Security, illegal immigration and his effort to require that young girls in Texas be vaccinated against the cancer-causing human papillomavirus. However, the poll indicates that the criticism hasn’t prevented the Texas governor from establishing himself as the front-runner in a state that could be crucial, if not decisive, in the GOP presidential race.

Bit surprising, no? Perry spent the entire second half of that debate fending off other candidates who descended on him like a pack of dogs.

The most rabid of them was Bachmann, who clearly hurt herself in that debate based on the poll. Mason-Dixon’s survey had her at 13 percent three weeks ago and she now has eight percent – a 38 percent falloff in support.

There are interesting internals in the IA poll, as Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey notes

The Insider Advantage poll’s demographics are interesting.  Perry wins two-thirds of the 18-29YO vote, with Ron Paul coming in second at 12.9% and Gingrich third at 9.9%.  Romney and Bachmann, along with all of the other candidates, don’t get a single vote in this category.  Perry leads in all age demographics except the 65+, perhaps a result of the Social Security debate — but he still comes in second with 22.6% of the vote to Romney’s 30.9%.  Among white voters, Perry leads 26/21, but he takes nearly half of the Hispanic vote with 48%.  Bachmann comes in second in this demo with 23.9%, followed by Romney at 12.7%.  Perry leads among men and women, but does much better with men (35/19), barely edging Romney with the latter (22/20).  Bachmann, surprisingly, finishes behind Gingrich with both genders as she does overall.

The poll was conducted on Tuesday and consists of likely primary voters.  It might take a couple of days for the dust to completely settle after a debate, but since this debate took place in Florida, one could assume that likely voters in that state paid close attention to the debate in their own backyard.  So far it seems that Perry hasn’t done any damage to himself, and that his opponents aren’t finding an argument to slow him down — at least not yet.  Gardasil probably won’t cure their ills.

Morrissey doesn’t mention that the IA poll being conducted on Tuesday might well have meant that voters hadn’t been exposed to the media elite’s treatment and analysis of the debate. But it supposition as to whether they would have even paid attention to that stuff or whether the “opinion-makers” actually influence the electorate as much as they purport to.

The upshot? Perry gets in the race, calls Social Security a Ponzi scheme and gets Romney to freak out about it, and in the state with the largest number of old people in the country Perry engineers a 16-point flip on Romney.

Surprising, perhaps. Instructive, for certain.

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