(CNN) – Businessman Herman Cain has edged out former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the first primary state of the South, according to a new poll released Tuesday.
The conservative radio talk show host received 26% support in the Palmetto State poll, only one percentage point ahead of Romney and within the margin of error for the American Research Group survey, indicating the two are statistically tied.
South Carolina is slated to go fourth in the nation's primary and caucus calendar, preceded by Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada.
The longest-serving Texas Gov. Rick Perry placed third with 15% support, followed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 8%, Texas Rep. Ron Paul at 7%, and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann at 5%.
With 12% of likely primary voters undecided in the poll, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum received 1% support and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, and former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer did not net enough backing to constitute a percentage.
The results reflect a southern shakeup in standings among the GOP field. Just three months ago Romney placed first followed by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who has since announced she's out of the race for the 2012 nomination, Bachmann, who's seen her popularity fall following a big win in the Ames straw poll, and Herman Cain in fourth.
When the survey is narrowed to Republican respondents who consider themselves likely primary voters, Cain and Romney are tied at 27% each.
Among tea party supporters, Cain, a favorite in the tea party movement, takes the lead with 35% support, followed by Perry, and with Romney in third. But among those who are not tea party supporters or are undecided about the movement, the top four shifts with Romney in the lead at 33% followed by Cain, Perry, and Paul.
The American Research Group survey was conducted among 600 likely GOP primary voters including Republicans, Democrats, and independents. Respondents were questioned by telephone from October 5-10. The poll has a sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.