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The Brief: July 27, 2011

A new poll confirms the trend: Rick Perry's not even running yet, but he's already almost beating Mitt Romney.

Texas Governor Rick Perry talks about the Texas economy while speaking in front of a Boeing 787 airplane during the ceremoni…

The Big Conversation:

Another poll confirms the trend: Rick Perry's not even running yet, but he's already almost beating Mitt Romney.

A new Gallup poll shows Perry trailing Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and presumptive Republican front-runner, by 2 points, 17 percent to 15 percent. But the poll's 4-point margin of error puts the two in a statistical tie.

The Gallup poll comes less than a week after two separate polls, from CNN and Fox News, showed Perry closing in on Romney. Another poll this week showed Perry leading in Florida, a key early-voting state, among Republican voters.

One caveat: The Gallup poll, like the CNN and Fox News polls, includes possible candidates Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, and Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor — neither of whom may run if Perry enters the race. But both, along with U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, poll in the double digits, indicating that the GOP race remains largely unsettled.

Nate Silver, data guru at The New York Times' FiveThirtyEight blog, says it may be premature to deem Perry the Republican front-runner (as has the betting market Intrade), but if the polling trend continues, and he debuts with a bang, Perry could turn the game on its head.

In the key early battleground of Iowa, it's unclear whether the rise of Perry, Bloomberg notes, spells trouble for Romney or could potentially help him, with Perry splitting the Tea Party vote with Bachmann, a favorite of social conservatives who has also surged in polls recently. Either way, it puts Iowa — which observers had begun to predict would go to Bachmann, with Romney likely finishing a strong second — back in play.

Culled:

  • The New York Times reports that U.S. Rep. Ron Paul hopes for a strong showing at the Aug. 13 Iowa Straw Poll, where a win, Paul says, would "rock the establishment" — or at least give the congressman enough momentum to draw attention from candidates like U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. As for that other Texan whom Paul will likely be competing against, Rick Perry's name won't appear on the straw poll ballot, but as the Austin American-Statesman recently noted, that's not necessarily a bad thing for the governor.
  • More than 200 Texas post offices, the most of any state, may close as part of the U.S. Postal Service's plans to shutter 3,700 branches nationwide.
  • State politicians have used Texas' impressive job growth figures as a political football, but as The Associated Press reports, the numbers reflect "a combination of luck, location and a low cost of living, only some of which any politician can claim credit for."

"Sarah wanted me to tell him that, if he were to declare, he should declare here at Bentwood."Mike Sheeran, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's uncle, on the message Palin wanted him to deliver to Rick Perry at a fundraiser in San Angelo

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