Obviously, Florida has a large elderly population of retirees. For that reason, the Social Security is a particularly prickly issue there. So conventional wisdom would dictate that, after Perry was called to the mat not just by Democrats but by fellow Republicans over his comments about the gigantic entitlement program being a “Ponzi scheme” and a “monstrous lie” he’d be hurt in the polls in that swing state.
But so far, that hasn’t been the case. In a poll taken the day after the debate last week, Governor Rick Perry still enjoys a nine point lead over second place Mitt Romney.
The poll, conducted by Insider Advantage for the Florida Times-Union, shows Perry leading the field with 29 percent support. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney comes in second with 20 percent support. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is a distant third with 9 percent. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann has 8 percent support, businessman Herman Cain has 6 percent, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul has 5 percent. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum garners 2 percent support, and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman rounds out the field with just over 1 percent. ….
The poll was conducted the day after the Republican candidates debated in Tampa, Fla. Perry came under heavy fire at the debate from his GOP rivals, who hit went after him over his comments about Social Security, illegal immigration and his effort to require that young girls in Texas be vaccinated against the cancer-causing human papillomavirus. However, the poll indicates that the criticism hasn’t prevented the Texas governor from establishing himself as the front-runner in a state that could be crucial, if not decisive, in the GOP presidential race.
Ed Morrissey notes that this is actually a larger lead for Perry over the last credible poll done in the state, which showed the Texas Governor with a seven point lead over Romney. It wouldn’t be fair to say that Perry got a bump, two points could just be polling static and we’re talking about polls from two different sources, but one conclusion we can draw is that Perry isn’t being hurt by his Social Security talk.
That, I’ve got to say, is refreshing at a time when usually any perceived threat to the entitlements no matter how in jeopardy entitlement programs may be is usually political kryptonite.