Washington (CNN) – A new national survey of Republicans indicates that it's basically all tied up between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, with Gingrich on the rise and businessman Herman Cain falling due to the sexual harassment allegations he's been facing the past two weeks.
According to a CNN/ORC International Poll released Monday, 24% of Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP say Romney is their most likely choice for their party's presidential nominee with Gingrich at 22%. Romney's two-point advantage is well within the survey's sampling error.
Full results (pdf)
While the level of support has pretty much stayed the same for Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who's making his second bid for the White House, Gingrich has seen his support jump 14 points since October.
The poll also indicates that 14 percent back Cain, down 11 points from last month. Four women have alleged that Cain sexually harassed them during the late 1990s when he headed the National Restaurant Association. Cain denies the allegations.
"Cain is struggling with the charges of sexual harassment, and while most Republicans tend to dismiss those charges, roughly four in 10 Republicans think this is a serious matter and tend to believe the women who made those charges," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.
The survey indicates that only a bare majority of Republicans tend to believe Cain, and more than a third say he should end his presidential campaign. Among the general public, Cain has a bigger credibility problem - 50% of all Americans say they tend to believe the women and only a third say they believe Cain.
"Not surprisingly, there is a big gender gap on this matter - women say this is a serious matter and believe the women, but men say the story has been overblown and are split on which side they believe," Holland added.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry is at 12% in the survey, basically all even with Cain for third place in the hunt for the nomination. Perry was at 13% in CNN's October poll. The new survey was conducted Friday through Sunday, entirely after last Wednesday's presidential debate where Perry suffered an embarrassing "oops" moment when the one-time front-runner struggled for nearly a minute to name the third of three federal agencies he would cut if elected president.
While Perry's overall horse race number has not suffered, dig deeper into the poll and it appears the "oops" moment is hurting his standing with Republican voters. In September, 72% of Republicans said Perry had the right personal qualities to be president. A majority of Republicans still feel that way, but that number has dropped 14 points since September.
According to the poll, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who's making his third run for the presidency, is at 8%, with Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota at 6%, former Utah Gov. and former ambassador to China Jon Huntsman and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania each at 3%, and 8% are unsure.
The poll's Monday release comes seven weeks and one day before the Iowa caucuses, the first contest on the primary and caucus calendar. The survey indicates that just over six in 10 Republicans say they may change their minds, with 31% say they will definitely support the candidate they are currently backing.
With Cain dropping and Perry flat-lining, it looks like it's Gingrich's turn to become the "anybody but Romney" candidate. If the GOP race becomes a two-man battle between Romney and Gingrich, the poll indicates they are well-matched. Romney and Gingrich are the two most popular Republican candidates among the GOP rank and file, and the only two with favorable ratings above 50% among the Republicans surveyed.
More than three-quarters of Republicans think both men have the right personal qualities to be president and more than seven in 10 Republicans say they agree with Gingrich and Romney on important issues.
The key difference between Romney and Gingrich is electability. For the first time in CNN's polling, Romney now tops Barack Obama in a head-to-head matchup among registered voters. But Gingrich faces an 8-point deficit when paired with Obama in a general election matchup.
"Among all Americans, 58% say that Romney has the personal qualities a president should have, compared to just 45% for Gingrich. Most Americans don't agree with either man on important issues," Holland said.
The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International, with 1,036 adults Americans, including 480 Republicans and Independents who lean Republican, as well as 552 men and 514 women, questioned by telephone. The overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points, with a sampling error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points for questions only of Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP.
– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.
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Newt comes across as a smug arrogant guy sometimes. Speaks like a know it all most of the time, I don't think he knows it all... and I hear interesting things about his previous 'track-record' that are disturbing.
So what – this week he is the "best of the worst" – none of them have a plan – only criticism without honesty or facts that can be substantiated beyond rhetoric!
EWWWWWWWWWWWWW- Newt Gingrich?! I'd rather have Herman Cain- and that's saying something.
The farce continues...
So... who's the next "flash in the pan favorite?"
Seems like every 2-3 weeks there is a new frontrunner.
No doubt the scandal has hurt. But part of the problem is probably that his 9-9-9 plan is incredibly stupid, and outside of that one little trick, Cain has got nothing.
Oh well, with a FOtM GoP candidate, at least we can expect a new Bad Lip Reading of Newt.
I think this ups and downs for the candidates just is clearing the way for Huntsman. he clearly is the best candidate for America, not just Republicans.
Newt's performance on Da Ali G Show seals my vote for him.
Pepperoni Cain....Enough...now GET LOST
I am a conservative. I refuse to support any candidate who believes torturing people is okay. It never is. I hope, for the sake of our country, that Romney emerges victorious. Either Obama or Gingrich would spell further disaster for the USA.
Whew....It's a good thing too because if it weren't for Newt, Ron Paul might actually gotten more air time !
Gingrich – the last of the seven dwarves.
I've said all along that he won't make it past the South Carolina primary. God help America if he does.
if the GOP is turning to gingrich......... WOW they are lost
here's your family values in action
here's your personal responsibility embodified..........
Gingrich will get pulverized in a general election.
Looks like Gingrich is the republicans flavor of the Month
So, now the liberal slander machine can move on too Newt.
Hilarious! One pretender to the Crown [Gingrich] SOARS to 20+% and another drops like a rock [Cain]. But the "heir apparent" [Romney] doesn't budge, either up or down. Looks like the 'anyone but Romney' Tea Party faction has found an new BFF in Newt (at least until the NEXT one comes along).
Anyone remind them of his rather checkered past?
While Romney may "look" more presidential, he wouldn't compare in a debate to Gingrich. And if you put Obama and Gingrich together in a debate, it would not turn out good for the president.
So, Gingrich is now the GOP "flavor of the month" eh? Yawn.
Waitwhat? 'Breaking News'??? really?
it's pretty evident desperation is setting in for a candidate that has a chance. Newt isn't it either...,
slim pickin' in the Republican arena..
Please not Gingrich...Please not Gingrich...Please not Gingrich...Please not Gingrich...
I don't know who I'll get to vote for if Gingrich is the Republican nominee. I guess I'd be a write in Ron Paul voter:(
Does Newt still think that women have monthly infections that should keep them out of the front lines? Please tell me he's at least embarrassed he got caught saying that to students....
He's not it!
Read the PDF. "Interviews with 1,036 adult Americans conducted by telephone
by ORC International on November 11-13, 2011."
Ridiculous. By telephone? So you can select for more biased results that cater to the news that you want to report?
It could be a tie or a spread of 8% points, given the +/-3% error rate. Romney would be +3% (i.e. 27%) and Newt can be -3% (i.e. 19%).