Washington (CNN) - As Texas Gov. Rick Perry comes closer and closer to jumping into the race for the White House, a second straight national poll indicates the Texas governor is close to the top of the list in the battle for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.
According to a Gallup survey released Wednesday, Perry appears to be the strongest challenger to Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who is making his second bid for the nomination and who is at the top of the GOP list in most polls.
Among the announced candidates, 27 percent of Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP say that Romney is their first choice for their party's presidential nomination, with 18 percent backing Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and 11 percent supporting Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who's making his third run for the White House. Every other announced candidate listed polled in the single digits.
But add Perry to the mix and it appears to be a different ball game, with Romney at 23 percent and Perry at 18 percent, Bachmann at 13 percent and Paul at 10 percent.
Add in former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and things get even more crowded near the top of the pack, with Romney at 17 percent, Perry at 15 percent, Palin at 12 percent, and Giuliani and Bachmann at 11 percent, Paul at eight percent and everyone else in the low single digits. While both Giuliani, who ran for the presidency four years ago, and Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2008, have flirted with bids, neither has taken concrete steps towards launching a campaign.
"Romney is the nominal front-runner for the Republican nomination, though his status is weaker now than a month ago and could be weakened further by the entry of a candidate like Perry, Palin, or Giuliani," says Gallup's analysis of their poll. "Still, none of those potential candidates' support exceeds Romney's at the moment."
The Gallup survey mirrors a CNN/ORC International Poll released last Friday. According to the CNN survey, 14 percent picked Perry as their first choice for their party's nomination, just two points behind Romney. Romney's two point margin over Perry was within the survey's sampling error.
The CNN poll indicated that Giuliani and Palin were at 13 percent, Bachmann at 12 percent and everyone else in single digits.
According to the poll, Perry appears to be changing some GOP minds.
"In May, 50 percent of Republicans said that they did not want Perry to throw his hat in the ring; now, 50 percent say they would welcome a bid by Perry," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
The Gallup poll was conducted July 20-24, with 1,088 Republicans and independents who lean toward the GOP questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus four percentage points.
The CNN poll by ORC International was conducted July 18-20, with 455 Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points for questions regarding the GOP presidential nomination horserace.