Rick Perry is dominating the Republican race for President in both North Carolina and West Virginia, another data point suggesting that he might be able to sweep the delegate rich South next year. He had previously led in PPP polls of Kentucky, South Carolina, Virginia, and of course Texas.
In North Carolina his lead is 23 points. He's at 35% to 12% for Mitt Romney, 10% for Ron Paul, 9% for Herman Cain, 8% each for Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann, 4% for Rick Santorum, and 2% for Jon Huntsman.
Those numbers represent a pretty significant shift over the last month. On our August survey Perry and Bachmann were tied at 17% with Romney just behind at 16%. Since then Perry's gained 18 points while Romney's dropped 5 and Bachmann's fallen back by 9.
Perry's the only candidate with a favorability number over 50%. 61% of primary voters have a favorable opinion of him compared to 47% for Bachmann, 45% for Romney, and 42% for Gingrich. His support is built like in most places on his strength with 'very conservative' voters. 41% support him with Romney in 4th place at 9% with the largest group of voters by ideology within the North Carolina Republican ranks.
Perry is similarly strong in West Virginia. There he has a 19 point lead with 33% to 14% for Romney, 11% each for Bachmann and Gingrich, 7% for Paul, 6% for Cain, 4% for Santorum, and 1% for Huntsman.
The West Virginia numbers show several similar patterns to North Carolina. Again Perry is the only candidate seen favorably by a majority of Republican voters with 52% rating him positively to 46% for Bachmann, 41% for Gingrich, and 37% for Romney. And again the foundation of his lead is a massive advantage with those describing themselves as 'very conservative.' He gets 42% with that group with Romney all the way back in 4th place at 8%. Just as in NC, that's the largest voter bloc within the West Virginia Republican ranks.
We haven't polled Florida yet since Perry's entry into the race but beyond there it's hard to imagine any state Perry's not winning in the South at this point. It helps Perry to be the Southern candidate but even more important than that is he seems to have postioned himself as the most conservative option who is simultaneously a credible nominee. In these states where the electorate leans very conservative that's going to make him tough to beat.
Full results here