01/17/2012 03:33 pm ET

Rick Perry Loses Support Of Texas Republicans, New Poll Shows

Looks like Texas Gov. Rick Perry is no longer so deep in the heart of Texans.

A new poll released Tuesday by Public Policy Polling found that more Texas Republicans would vote for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney than their own chief executive if the two squared off head-to-head, edging out Perry 46 to 45. When asked their preference in a two-way contest in September, Perry led Romney 72 to 18. The turnaround indicates how Republicans are rallying around Romney despite Newt Gingrich's dismissal of him as a "Massachusetts moderate."

When including all GOP candidates in the race, Perry was at 49 percent in the September poll, compared to Romney's 10 percent. Now the Texan is in third place with 18 percent, behind Romney, who has 24 percent, and Gingrich, who has 23 percent. But Texans do still like him more than former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, at 15 percent, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul, at 12 percent.

According to the polling outfit, "It's not just that Texas Republicans are no longer planning to vote for Perry -- a lot of them even feel that Perry's candidacy has hurt Texas' image."

While 39 percent of GOP primary voters in the state say that Perry has negatively impacted perceptions about Texas, just 28 percent say the same about Paul.

PPP, a Democratic polling company, surveyed 559 Texas Republican primary voters from Jan. 12-15 using automated telephone interviews.