(CNN) – Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry landed at the top of the GOP field among South Carolina voters, who host the first-in-the-South presidential primary, but only slightly ahead of Mitt Romney, according to a new poll.
The Winthrop University Poll released Tuesday showed the Texas governor with 30.5 percent support among Republican and Republican-leaning voters, compared with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's 27.3 percent, a disparity that falls within the sampling error.
Former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain received 7.7 percent support, followed by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who has yet to launch a bid for president, at 5.8 percent and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 5.3 percent. The remaining 2012 candidates did not reach five percent.
When asked who they thought would win the GOP nomination, regardless of who they support, 35.4 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning voters said Perry and 29.4 percent chose Romney.
Almost 60 percent of GOP voters who are definitely planning on voting in the Palmetto State primary said it was more important to select a nominee who matched their beliefs, while 33.5 percent said it was more important to select a candidate who could beat Obama in 2012.
A majority of Republican and Republican-leaning respondents said the term "socialist" describes the president well, or very well at 74.7 percent and 30 percent said the president is a Muslim, despite his Christian faith. Thirty-six percent said he was probably or definitely born in another country. Earlier this year, Obama released the long-form version of his birth certificate that reflects he was born in Hawaii.
The Winthrop Poll interviewed 1,552 registered voters and 596 Republican and GOP-leaning voters with a sampling error of plus or minus 2.49 percentage points.