Texas Gov. Rick Perry would beat former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in a head-to-head contest for the GOP nomination, according to a new USA Today/Gallup poll released today.
But the results show Perry would lose to Obama in the general election, whereas Romney would win.
Taken last week, the survey of GOPers showed Perry with 31 percent of the Republican vote, Romney with 24 percent and Texas Rep. Ron Paul with double-digit support at 13 percent.
Jon Huntsman registered 1 percent of the vote.
The results show Romney has narrowed Perry's lead. The monthly poll showed Perry leading Romney by 12 points last month in the first poll after Perry entered the race.
While Perry maintained a sizable lead in this latest poll, if he were placed head to head against Obama, the president would get 50 percent of the vote and Perry 45 percent, the poll found. On the other hand, if Romney is placed head to head against Obama, Romney garners 49 percent of the vote to Obama's 47 percent.
"Romney's electability argument could be helped by the poll," reported NBC News this morning regarding the results.83 comments on this story
And indeed, the argument that Romney may be more electable than Perry is picking up support. Political figures as disparate as John McCain's daughter, Mike Huckabee, Karl Rove and Rep. Jason Chaffetz have all made their own versions of the Romney electability case — but now they have concrete poll numbers to back it up.
USA Today reported that "Perry is also a more polarizing figure: 44 percent say they definitely would not vote for the Texas governor; 35 percent say that of Romney. Looked at another way, 62 percent say would either definitely vote for Romney or consider doing so; 53 percent say that of Perry."
The new poll comes as the GOP candidates are preparing to face off for Thursday night's debate sponsored by Fox News in Orlando, Fla. The debate will be broadcast on Fox and begins at 7 pm MT.