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Rick Perry: unelectable or GOP's best shot? Why public and pundits differ.

Polls show that the public thinks Rick Perry is the GOP presidential candidate with the best chance of beating President Obama. The punditry disagrees. Why the perception gap?

By Staff writer / September 12, 2011

Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks during a Republican Party of Orange County rally at Roger's Gardens in Newport Beach, Calif., Thursday.

Chris Carlson/AP

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In the days since last Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate, the so-called election experts have roasted Texas Gov. Rick Perry on one of his Lone Star state barbecue spits, declaring that he “destroyed his candidacy” by calling social security a “Ponzi scheme.” Some dubbed him unelectable.

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On Monday, a new CNN/ORC International poll came out, and Governor Perry had expanded his lead on the field. Some 30 percent of Republican and right-leaning Independents favor the tough-talking Texas governor over Mitt Romney.

So, what were the pundits thinking?

Jon Stewart of Comedy Central's "Daily Show" took a stab at answering that question. After showing a montage of the dire predictions about Perry, he scolded, “When will the pundits get that this is not about a race for the presidency of pundit town?”

His obvious point: The experts and the people are living in two different worlds.

On some level, data seem to bear that out. About 70 percent of GOP insiders – the sorts of folks from whom the punditry are drawn – think Mr. Romney is the more electable candidate, according to a National Journal survey. Meanwhile the CNN poll shows that 42 percent of respondents thought Perry was the candidate most likely to beat President Obama; Romney came second at 26 percent.

Why the difference? Well, it’s still only a race for the top spot on the Republican ticket right now.

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