NPR logo Poll: Perry Leads Mitt Romney In SC (But Not By Much)

Poll: Perry Leads Mitt Romney In SC (But Not By Much)

A new Winthrop University poll out of South Carolina shows Texas Gov. Rick Perry with about a three-percentage point lead over Mitt Romney among voters who are Republican and GOP leaners.

Meanwhile, about 75 percent of those same voters surveyed thought the word "socialist" well described President Obama. Thirty six percent said he was definitely or probably born in another country while almost 30 percent said he was a Muslim. (But nearly 34 percent said he was Christian.)

Getting back to the Republican race, that the Perry-Romney result in the Winthrop poll was within the margin of error was actually a decent showing for Romney considering national polls give Perry a larger lead. A new USA Today/Gallup poll gives Perry a seven percentage point lead over Romney.

South Carolina has been a GOP political bellwether. Republican voters there have correctly chosen the GOP presidential nominee since 1980.

Perry, who wears his evangelical Christian faith on his sleeve, announced his official entry into the presidential race in South Carolina, no surprise since the Palmetto State is one of the most religious states in the country.

So it makes sense he would be doing well with the state's Republican voters. But it's fascinating that Romney is doing as well as he is. Unlike 2008, his Mormon faith hasn't been discussed much publicly and that could explain some of the results.

Meanwhile, when asked who they thought the eventual Republican nominee would be, it was Perry 34.3 percent, Romney 28 percent.

Back to Obama. While many South Carolina Republicans still deny that the president was born in the U.S. and a Christian, his intelligence is apparently undeniable. Seventy eight percent of Republicans or leaners said "intelligent" described the president "very well" or "well."

So they may hate his politics. But they respect his mind.