In the first poll of likely South Carolina voters since Rick Perry entered the race, the Texas governor has a double-digit lead over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
In the poll, released Friday and commissioned by Magellan Strategies based in Colorado, 637 voters were contacted on Aug. 22-23 via autodial and 31 percent of them indicated a preference for Perry, with Romney garnering 20 percent.
The poll was released a day after a spokesperson said Romney will campaign in South Carolina in September, ending a months-long absence from the state.
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota was third with 14 percent of the vote, while pizza magnate Herman Cain was fourth with 9 percent. Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul had 5 and 4 percent of the support, respectively. Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsmann drew 2 percent each.
Nine percent of those polled are undecided and 4 percent preferred another candidate. The survey has a margin of error of 3.88 percent.
Perry has his strongest support among male, social conservatives who are self-identified members of the tea party.
Romney did best with females and those above 65, though he still trails Perry in both.
Perry’s entrance into the race seems to have taken voters from Bachmann, who has championed herself as a fiscal and social conservative. But, even among those two groups she now trails Romney.
Perry also had the highest favorability rating with 61 percent with Bachmann close second at 58. Gingrich and Paul had the highest unfavorable rating with 53 and 48 percent, respectively.
Perry is also in a statistical dead-heat with Bachmann in Iowa.
The news also comes on the heels of a HuffPo/ Patch poll of influential conservatives that showed a majority satisfied with the current options for the nomination to run against President Barack Obama.
The major contenders for the 2012 Republican nomination will all be in Columbia on Labor Day at the invite of Sen. Jim DeMint, who is hosting a forum.