WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans party elders are still grousing about the GOP choices for president — but the voters who will choose the nominee are growing more satisfied with the possibilities with Texas Gov. Rick Perry now in the race.

Party leaders have been looking for a new contender who is strong enough to take on President Barack Obama. As recently as this week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — again — insisted they weren’t running for president despite urging from supporters.

But an Associated Press-GfK poll released Friday found that Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are coming around to the choices already on the table: About two-thirds are pleased with the party’s presidential field, compared with just half in June. And they’re paying more attention, with 52 percent expressing a “great deal” of interest in the GOP nomination fight — compared with 39 percent earlier this summer — after a period that saw Perry enter the race and Michele Bachmann win a test vote in Iowa, the lead-off caucus state, threatening Mitt Romney’s standing at the top of the pack.

The poll shows Perry, who has never run a national campaign and is just now introducing himself to most people, benefiting from wall-to-wall news coverage over the past few weeks as he became a candidate and jostled the until-then sleepy contest. Just 12 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents have a negative impression of the Texas governor. And 63 percent of Republicans view him in a positive light, compared with 33 percent in June.

Beyond that, Republicans didn’t change their impressions much about Romney. Nearly 2 in 3 still view the former Massachusetts governor positively, while just under a quarter see him negatively as he runs a cautious, methodical campaign that’s facing its first true test in Perry.

Bachmann, the Minnesota congresswoman who won the Iowa straw poll, got roughly the same marks as Romney now that she’s boosted her national profile. Both her positive and negative ratings rose in the two months since she entered the contest and became better known.

Broadly, the results suggest that Republicans are coming around to the idea that there may be a winner in the bunch after being less than enthusiastic for months.

Sarah Palin, the GOP’s 2008 vice presidential nominee, says she’ll announce in late September whether she will run.

Stay-at-home mom Jennifer Bevington of Toledo, Ohio, is among those Republicans who like what they see, saying: “Out of the top three — Michele Bachmann, Perry and Romney — of who’s running, they should be able to come up with a good candidate.”

Mary Parish of Troy, Tenn., had doubted for months that any of the candidates in the field were strong enough to run the country or topple Obama. Now, the retired convenience store manager says: “I like Rick Perry. I think he’s a Christian, a good Christian person. I like what he stands for, and I think he’s strong enough to beat Obama.”

Still, while Republicans like them are warming up to the field, the overall population still has significant doubts and is largely unimpressed, which could bode well for Obama come the general election.

Just 41 percent of all those surveyed expressed satisfaction with the official and unofficial GOP candidates, about the same as in June. Among certain or possible presidential contenders, only Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor toying with a candidacy, gets significantly higher favorable marks than unfavorable ones.

And no Republican candidate — declared or otherwise — is viewed favorably by a majority of people.

This GOP field has been remarkably slow to form as Republicans look to challenge a politically vulnerable Democratic incumbent saddled with high unemployment, rampant foreclosures and soaring debt.

Now, five months before the Republican nomination contests are to begin, the field is largely set with Romney, Perry and Bachmann clustered near the top of many surveys, followed by Texas Rep. Ron Paul. Nearly everyone else is languishing far behind, including former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former pizza executive Herman Cain and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

The poll also found:

–Among Republicans who back the tea party, 80 percent view Bachmann favorably while 74 percent see Perry positively. Among those Republicans who don’t back the coalition, just 37 percent have positive impressions of Bachmann and 48 percent of Perry.

–Romney earns positive reviews from a broader group of Republicans than Bachmann or Perry do. Majorities of both conservative and more liberal Republicans hold favorable views of him, which suggests he may be able to stitch together a broader coalition of supporters than his rivals to win the GOP nomination.

–Negative impressions of Romney among all adults grew 6 percentage points, topping 4 in 10 for the first time in AP-GfK polling. That’s a warning sign for Romney as he executes a strategy to run a general election campaign focused on Obama and the economy while appealing to a broad spectrum of voters.

–Huntsman’s negative rankings crept upward during the first few months of his campaign, and he was the only GOP candidate viewed unfavorably by as many Republicans as view him positively.

The poll was conducted Aug. 18-22 by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. It involved landline and cellular telephone interviews with 1,000 adults nationwide and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points. The poll included interviews with 408 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents; the margin of error for these results is plus or minus 6.4 percentage points.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (24)
  1. Tom says:

    Sounds like the nuts have found their main nut! That not saying much!

  2. Murph says:

    Why don’t the just go rescue Daffy from Libya and get everything they wish for in one garbage bag!

  3. dems for me says:

    I prefer democrats who give me other people’s money so I don’t have to work or stop playing the xbox. Sorry got to go get my EBT card and buy some shrimp.

    1. Murph says:

      Pardon my Dem ignorance,but what is an EBT card???.You seem very knowledgible about them! A FOX News addict/zombie without a clue I’ll just bet!

    2. Iconoclast says:

      I prefer Republicans who shift the the tax burden to all those hard working middle class folks and cut all that wasteful spending for things like quality education and health care so I can afford a second yacht and ice sculptures that peeee vodka. (See, I can write hyperbolic sarcasm too.)

  4. jan says:

    Here’s one right leaning independent who is totally disgusted with the candidates, No such thing as global warming? Have a baby every year? Pray yourself straight if you’re gay? If they’d stick to the economy and balancing the budget, I’d vote for one of them but who in their right mind could support any of these idiots?

    1. Chris says:

      @ Jan…

      Stop generalizing already and give us a break!

      That is exactly why there are several candidates to choose from…

      Although it sounds like it doesn’t matter to you anyway, so save your breath.

      When the dust settles they will have no problem beating Nobama…

    2. Iconoclast says:

      @ Chris – Jan’s right the only candidates that have a shot are complete nut jobs because the right has moved so far out of touch with normal people.

  5. Max says:

    It doesn’t say much for Republicans if they are satisfied with this field of third-raters.

  6. Murph says:

    DON”T EAT THE MUSHROOMS ! Many years ago I watched a Japanese horror flick.Where some people were stranded on an island where nothing grew but mushrooms.Kinda like the GOP POTUS candidates.But forced by starvation the people started eating the mushrooms. They tasted really good and all were happy to have a belly full.Within days of partaking.The people themselves began to become MUSHROOMS! Now for the scary part.The field of GOP candidates seem to be having the same effect upon some, but not all, GOP voters. Please GOP’ers don’t become a mushroom! Quit eating up the things that will define you for all of history!

    1. I'm Just Sayin' says:

      Murph, You can use the same analogy about the dems. difference is some like to take others peoples money and give it away, and some like to spend without taxing. Does either make sense or seem logical? Oh wait, you are a left person, so taking others people money and giving it away makles sense to you.

      1. Murph says:

        A bigger proportion of my money goes to taxes than yours I’ll bet.Why should you get to keep more of what you make than I do? You obviosly don’t care what the price of oil and gasoline goes to because fuel,and food is not a big chunk of change to you as it is to many of us!So you also probably have the health insurance that I can no longer afford as well! So keep on telling me how much money I get from uncle Sam! You probably spend in one day the money I get from the government! It is next to nothing at todays cost of neccessities.Things you treat frivolously are what normal people worry about having enough of.Got that Chief!

  7. Bill says:

    This group of losers would rather discuss their belief of creation or put down Obama, rather than give us detailed examples of how they would create jobs or any other issue that is plaguing this country.

  8. Sid says:

    Turn out the lights………………the Obama party is over. Don’t matter who runs for the repubs.

    1. Iconoclast says:

      You’re kind of out of touch there Sid. Romney might have a shot because he’s a realistic moderate but the insane base of the right won’t give him a shot. Do you honestly think anyone could have done a better job with Bush’s mess than Obama. You also need to realize that the GOP has made it their mission block Obama at every turn even at the expense of the economy and the American people. Very patriotic of them don’t you think? You need to take a hard look at who you put your trust in pal. You’re being used as a tool.

      1. Sid says:

        Obama will go down as the worst president in history. His socialistic attempt at wealth redistribution has been a total failure. His Obamacare, dodd frank bill, union relations, energy policy (or lack of), and cash infusion into the economy has forced business to hold tight and run lean. The economy will continue to slide until he is out of office and believe me even Biden will be voting republican by next fall.

        1. Citizen says:

          @Sid. People like you and the GOP/tea party are doing their best to undermine and thwart President Obama every time he tries to accomplish anything for the citizens of the United States–the wealthiest country on the planet. Do you know what they call people who behave like that toward their country and its President? They don’t call them patriots, that’s for sure. I believe the word “traitor” fits here.

          1. Rick Perry says:

            That’s my line.

          2. Jack says:

            right on comrade.

          3. Sid says:

            Undermine and thwart? Obama made his own bed and is reaping the results of his socialist agenda. It doesn’t work. It didn’t work in Europe and it won’t work here. Time to take back the country and instill the freedoms we had and have continued to fight for since day one. Its people like you that want to change this country into a socialist state that we have to guard against. Its over Citizen, the people have spoken and will speak again in 2012.

  9. Awake up North says:


  10. itwilldrysoon says:

    I think I might have messed myself. Not alot, maybe a teaspoon full.

  11. lawrichards says:

    Understanding the situation, there is no doubt as to what’s happening. Being under surveillance, I am continually being attacked by the Department of Homeland Security’s technology, which uses local people to carry out the missions. As long as I detect pain early, I can shift my body slightly and the pain will stop. This can go on time after time, day and night. Again, I usually don’t become sick or maimed due to my awareness and vigilance of what Homeland Security is doing to me. An exception to this has been during the past 24 hours, during which the attack has been on my stomach and led to pain and diarrhea.

    Doctors will definitely not help the situation if Homeland Security is harming you. Additionally, I have contacted numerous government officials to no avail. The reason for these officials not returning contacts or diverting attention from the issue is that congressional people are not able to get involved, or do not want to, because they are the ones who instigated the attacks in the first place.

  12. Murph says:

    These polls will one day soon find just how much B.S. the American voters can stand. Hopefully it will be before the second revolution starts and the rich are incarcerated in the the same slave ghettos they have refurbished under Bush for us! There comes a time ,when time runs out,that clock is ticking!

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