He's not yet an official candidate, but a new CNN/ORC poll indicates that Texas Gov. Rick Perry is among the frontrunners for the GOP nomination.
The poll, coming as GOP hopefuls convene in Ames, Iowa for a pivotal debate ahead of the Iowa straw poll, reveals that 15 percent of Republicans and independents favor Perry more than many of the official GOP candidates.
Thursday's poll comes at a critical point for Perry, as he gears up for a long weekend of traveling to South Carolina to announce he's seeking the GOP nomination, then New Hampshire and Iowa.
However, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is making a second bid for the presidency, edges ahead of Perry with 17 percent of Republican and independent voters selecting him as their first choice for the nomination.
The poll also showed voters evenly split between New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who is making his third try for the White House, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. The three candidates are tied with 12 percent each.
Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota has seven percent of voters supporting her, while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich sits at five percent.
Herman Cain, the former CEO of Godfather's Pizza and former Utah Gov. and U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman both polled at four percent.
Only two percent of Republican and independent voters selected Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania or former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty as their choice.
The survey also revealed that when matched up against President Obama, Giuliani scores the best among voters with a 51-45 percent advantage, while Romney almost ties with the president 48 percent to 49 percent. Obama is still ahead of the next most popular candidates though with Perry and Bachmann lagging five or more percentage points behind Obama.
CNN's poll was conducted August 5-7 by ORC International. ORC telephoned 1,008 Americans for the survey and it reports an error of plus or minus three percentage points.