Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R)
While former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney remains at the top of national polls of 2012 Republican hopefuls, a new Gallup survey shows potential rival Gov. Rick Perry poised to surge into second place if he decides to run.
Romney enjoys a nine-point lead ahead of the rest of the pack of declared GOP candidates, coming in at 27 percent support among the Republicans and Republican-leading independents surveyed. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) stood at 18 percent among all formally announced contenders.
But when three additional GOP heavyweights -- Perry, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and 2008 presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani -- are included in the mix, Romney's support drops to 17 percent, with Perry in second place just two points behind.
And when Perry is the only as-yet-undeclared Republican added to the current lineup, Gallup found the Texas governor winning 18 percent support.
With Perry (but not Palin or Giuliani) in the race, Romney's level of support would fall to 23 percent and Bachmann's to 13 percent, according to the poll.