The Washington Times - September 16, 2011, 10:21AM

A new poll out Friday shows that most Republicans primary voters aren’t turned off by Rick Perry’s description of Social Security as a “Ponzi Scheme,” but that the comments could come back to haunt the Texas governor in the general election, where Independents play a key role in selecting the next president.

“As many Republicans say they are more likely to vote for Perry for president because of his views on Social Security as say they are less likely — 19 percent each,” the Gallup Poll survey of 1,414 Republicans and political independents, reported. “Among independents, 12 percent are more likely to vote for him and 32 percent less likely.”

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The poll comes a week after Mr. Perry refused to back off his characterization of Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme,” opening himself up to attacks from some of his GOP rivals, led by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Mr. Romney has since hammered Mr. Perry on the issue and warned that such provocative remarks will scare future and current beneficiaries of the program, thereby hurting the three-term Texas governor’s overall electability.

“As many Republicans say they are more likely to support Perry as a result as say they are less likely, with most indicating it won’t make a difference,” the polling organization said. “However, independents view his comments more negatively and, in line with Romney’s argument that this makes Perry unelectable, nearly 4 in 10 Republicans agree it could hurt Perry in a general election.”

The findings also underscore the simmering concern within some Republican circles that’s Mr. Perry’s penchant for tough-nosed rhetoric could spell trouble for him in a general-election matchup with President Obama next year. Of the Republicans respondents, 37 percent believed the views would hurt his electability, while just 17 percent said it would help.