(CNN) - Presidential hopeful Herman Cain jumped to the top of the Republican field in a new national poll, further signaling the Georgia businessman may pose a strong threat to fellow front-runner Mitt Romney.
In an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Wednesday, Cain took first choice among 27% of Republican voters, while Romney followed behind at 23%.
Cain's advantage over Romney falls within the poll's sampling error. The survey was also conducted prior to a New Hampshire debate Tuesday that largely focused on the economy, with Cain's "9-9-9" tax plan as a focal point of the discussion.
While Cain has climbed in the polls ever since a late-September Republican debate performance in Florida, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has watched his numbers spiral downward over the last few weeks.
Perry took third place in Wednesday's survey with 16% of the vote.
Behind the top three, Texas Rep. Ron Paul came in at 11%, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 8%, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann at 5%, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman at 3% and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum at 1%.
NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll conducted interviews over the phone from October 6-10 with 336 GOP primary voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.35 percentage points.
The poll follows another survey this week from an early battleground state, South Carolina, which showed Cain edging out Romney by 1 percentage point. The margin also fell within the sampling error, meaning the two were statistically tied.
Meanwhile, another poll in the 2012 horse race released Wednesday, a Reuters/Ipsos Public Affairs National Poll, showed Romney on top with 23% and Cain in second at 19% - a difference that also fell within the sampling error.
Paul took 13%, with Perry at 10%, Gingrich at 7%, Bachmann at 5%, and Huntsman at 2%.
The Reuters/Ipsos Public Affairs National Poll interviewed 410 Republicans over the phone from October 6-10 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.8 percentage points.
- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.