|Photo courtesy of Joyce Marshall/AP
It was the 'oops' heard 'round the world. A painstakingly demeaning moment in front of millions of TV viewers nationwide turned Texas Governor Rick Perry's 2012 Presidential campaign upside down. Perry, who entered the field later than any contender, needed to make a good impression on voters just tuning into the race. Instead, he reenforced preconceived notions. Like the fact that he was an intellectual lightweight, an accusation hurled often at ex-President George W. Bush. And who could blame anyone for buying into those stereotypes? It's not as if Perry was trapped in a 'gotcha moment' by the debate moderator. He was hoisted by his own petard (thanks Selina!), unable to complete his own talking point on the three federal agencies he would abolish as President.
Needless to say, the "oops" moment was a low point for the Perry campaign. He quickly fell into single digits in national polling and never recovered, having made a huge splash upon his late entry into the race on August 13, 2011. Before the "oops" debate on November 9, 2011, Perry averaged 19% in national Republican primary polls. After that debate, until he suspended his campaign on Jan 19, 2012, he only averaged 7%. See the table below:
|Polling data used in averages is compiled from The Roper Center's i-poll database.
Thoroughly mocked and humiliated on a national level, Perry returned home to finish out the three remaining years of his fourth term as governor. And not even they were happy to see him.
If "oops" was Perry's low moment, then his best moment since then would certainly have to be now. After the failure that was 2012, Perry set out to rekindle relationships and reassure potential supporters that 2016 would be much more serious. And external political events, namely the crisis of unaccompanied immigrant children flooding the southern border, have further boosted his profile. All of this has culminated in the two most recent national 2016 GOP primary surveys finding Perry essentially tied for first place.
A recent Fox News poll finds that while several potential candidates are clustered together at the top, Rick Perry and Jeb Bush emerge with 12% a piece, more than anyone else. A CNN poll released just a couple of days earlier found Perry again in double digits amidst a crowded field, with 11%. Chris Christie and Rand Paul led with 13% and 12%, putting Perry well within the +/- 4.5% margin of error.
Yet perhaps more important than Perry's raw percentage of the likely 2016 Republican primary vote are the trend lines. In the case of the Fox News poll, Perry drastically improved his performance from their prior survey in April, where he only managed 5% of the vote (good enough for 6th place). In the CNN survey, Perry nearly doubled his level of support from their prior poll just two months ago, jumping from 7th to 3rd place.