It is true, as they said in the political camp of Mitt Romney, that polls go up and down, but it is still nice to be the poll leader.

Mitt Romney has now lost that position, according to the latest Gallup poll, to Rick Perry who announced his candidacy two weeks ago. Some have dismissed the Perry surge as a short-lived phenomenon caused by his being a new contender. However, the very fact that there are Republicans who outstage him highlights Romney's problem of being regarded as unexciting. 

Up to now Romney has adopted an above-the-battle pose, ignoring his Republican competitors and concentrating his fire on Barack Obama as if he were already the Republican nominee. If Perry can maintain his polling scores, that strategy will have to change.

It would also be unrealistic for Romney to expect a rebound in his polling scores should the competition become a two-man race, as the next  two most popular candidates are Ron Paul and Michelle Bachmann. These are candidates whose conservative supporters do not easily translate into Romney voters should they despair of their favorite candidates.

Another problem for Romney is that Perry currently crushes him in the South, leads him in the West and Midwest and is fairly competitive in the East.  There is no secure Romney firewall after the New Hampshire primaries. The Perry margin is also substantial amongst older, conservative and regular churchgoing voters, those slices of the electorate that are most likely to show up and vote in a Republican political primary.

Perry's lead came despite or perhaps because of the concentrated attacks upon him in the liberal press on issues such as global warming, his job creation record in Texas and his religious conservatism. These attacks have apparently won the Texas governor sympathy among the Republican base and have led some voters to abandon Michelle Bachmann, who aims for the same set of voters, for Perry.

There is over half a year to the first primaries and a good deal could happen. In the interim, however, if Perry can persistently make a strong showing in the polls, he will convince political donors that writing out a check to the Perry campaign is a reasonably good investment.

Money is a major Romney advantage, as he has enough money of his own to absorb some setbacks and continue rolling. Perry needs to assemble a budget of his own to provide him with sufficient funds for the campaign.