Image: Rick Perry
Darren Abate  /  AP
Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks during the 28th annual National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials conference, Thursday, June 23, 2011, in San Antonio.
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updated 7/21/2011 12:11:25 PM ET 2011-07-21T16:11:25

Even as he meets with potential top donors, Rick Perry has yet to decide if he’s running for president. But two polls released this week indicate that if the Texas governor chooses to do so, he would enter the race better positioned than rivals who have campaigned for far longer.

The still-undeclared Perry — who has promised to make a decision in the next few weeks — received 11 percent of Republicans' support in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey of the GOP presidential field, trailing only Rep. Michele Bachmann and early primary front-runner Mitt Romney. Nine percent of GOP voters picked Perry as their second choice, according to the poll, tied for third highest.

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The results are good for Perry, and bad for two of his top potential opponents. The Texas governor’s totals dwarf those of ex-Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman. Each of them, at one time considered among the most likely to win the party’s nomination, got the backing of just 2 percent of Republicans surveyed – meaning their combined support was less than half of Perry’s.

Story: Deep pockets back presidential hopeful Perry

A second poll released on Tuesday also showed a bright result for Perry. Gallup reported that Republicans who know the Texas governor hold an overwhelmingly positive view of him. Perry received a net positive intensity score – the measure of how many voters strongly approve of a candidate minus those who strongly disapprove — of 21 points. It was the same score as Bachmann’s, an indication that Perry's backers share the fervent support that has sparked the Minnesota House member's meteoric rise in recent polls.

Rick Perry's divine calling

Perry’s name identification still stood at just 55 percent, Gallup reported, well below rivals Romney, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. But it was the same percentage as Pawlenty's and higher than Huntsman's, whose name ID stands at only 41 percent.

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Perry possesses strong numbers even though he is not yet an official candidate and has considered entering the race only in recent months. Pawlenty, meanwhile, has been a de facto candidate most of the year, has been treated as one of the front-runners by most of the press, and has participated in both presidential debates. Huntsman has more of an excuse, having returned from China in the spring as U.S. ambassador there, but months on the campaign trail have yet to produce gains for him in most polls.

Pawlenty's and Huntsman's struggles should hearten Perry: If he runs, he will compete with the them to become the alternative to the front-running Romney. Poor showings from the two former governors could coalesce support of the anti-Romney vote behind Perry.

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Good showings in national polls, of course, don’t necessarily translate into success in the primaries. Perry’s support could come in large part from Republican voters who view the current crop of candidates as lackluster, as a recent Gallup poll found. The moment he declares a campaign is also the moment voters, not to mention the press and rival campaigns, will scrutinize him more closely.

Story: Deep pockets back presidential hopeful Perry

Moreover, Pawlenty and Huntsman have had time to build organizations in early states and to collect supporters across the country – advantages that don't necessarily show in national polls but could play a key role as the early contests approach. Perry's political adviser, Dave Carney, indicated in an interview last week with National Journal that determining whether the governor can count on enough support from GOP officials across the country remains among the biggest obstacles to declaring a campaign.

At the time, Carney said that Perry remains on the fence about running even as he aggressively courts Republicans nationwide.

The article, "Polls show Perry already resonating with GOP voters," first appeared in the National Journal.

Copyright 2012 by National Journal Group Inc.

Video: Rick Perry still considering 2012 run

  1. Closed captioning of: Rick Perry still considering 2012 run

    >>> republican field for 2012 may be set, but there's a gop figure in an even bigger state who could still shake up the primaries. rick perry 's advisers are putting together information to help the texas governor decide whether the momentum and perhaps more importantly the money are there to make the run for the white house a reality. richard fowler is a democratic strategist and sherry jacobis is a republican strategist and a columnist for "the hill." thanks for joining us. so the christian right leaders want rick perry to throw his hat, maybe the ten-gallon hat, i haven't seen fashion pictures of him lately, into the ring. he's planning a christian prayer event august. who do you think the bigger threat to obama is? perry from texas or romney who is really out in front on the economy?

    >> well, i don't think either are a big threat to romney . when it comes to rick perry throwing his prayer fest, i'm not really sure what that's going to do for him. at the end of the day , the budget of texas is still taking on water. you know, he might be a good fund-raiser, but i'm not sure if he has the capability to moupt a campaign that could defeat mitt romney .

    >> sheerry, who do you like?

    >> i do like perry . i think this could be bad news for pawlenty. your top tier would be romney , bachmann and perry and all three are bad news for president obama .

    >> why perry ?

    >> well, perry 's good because out of -- since 2009 , 37% of all the new jobs created nationwide have been in the state of texas . so that's pretty darn good. he's got a very good record. in terms of the christian leaders liking him, that certainly helps him. but my sense, my opinion is that the christian conservative vote could very easily be split amongst several candidates in the field. the top three, in fact, which is a good thing. i think people care about the economy, obviously for moral reasons and family reasons that people want jobs. they want everybody to be able to work and support their family. so there's something about perry that can appeal to christian conserve piatie conservatives, tea partiers and that's the big uniting issue and perry can be strong on that. that's why a perry candidacy would be horrific for obama .

    >> i disagree here, though. at the end of the day , though --

    >> shocking.

    >> when it comes down to it, i don't think perry 's right for the republican ticket. i think he's going to have a hard time convincing rank-and-file republicans to join him. you know, since he's been governor, we've seen -- even though people say they're creating a lot of jobs to texas , no what avail? he's cut education by 30%, made tons of cuts. the only reason is because of president obama 's stimulus dollars.

    >> yeah, those stimulus dollars are not creating jobs in this country. we don't have all those shovel-ready projects. there's a lot of people standing in line waiting for these jobs that the president promised. and i don't think that you've got more than 14 million unemployed americans are going to go to the polls next fall -- or in the fall of 2012 and pull the lever for a president who's failed to create jobs that they so greatly need. they may like obama personally, but that's just not going to happen.

    >> perry is waging a big battle on the border. there are more agents, more drones, more high-technical ras than ever before. yet the illegal flow of people and the drug problem is worse than ever. this can come back to haunt him in a presidential run, can't it?

    >> well, unless things start turning around. i think the fact that there's an effort being made where in the past many people feel there has not been enough of an effort made on the border. that can certainly help him. if he's sort of trending in the right direction, that's going to help him a lot. but people do want results. but if he's got results on jobs and on budgets, then he can start getting results along the border. and you've got a large segment of the christian right that like him. and he's going to be good for independents and some democrats, you know, you might be looking at the next president. but i think at a minimum, he can give romney and bachmann a run for their money. they all have a lot of strength. so i'd be pretty happy with that as our first tier.

    >> richard, final word.

    >> well, you know, she talks about governor perry , you know, his work on the budget. he really hasn't done any work on the budget. the budget is basically taking on water if it weren't for the stimulus dollars. under obama we've seen 240 million jobs created. at the end of the day , i don't think any candidate in the gop field will face the challenge to the president. i can't wait to see his fund-raising numbers with the momentum that will take him into 2012 and into another term.

    >> thanks for joining us.

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