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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He will bury obama in a debate.
When everyone else tanks so badly that Newt Gingrich is pulling ahead, you know they're in trouble. There is no way in heck he would ever win the general election.
"In September, 72% of Republicans said Perry had the right personal qualities to be president." OMG republicans are crazy. A gaff in two debates and the guy drops 60%. Talk about "flip flop" Rep. don't know what they want..like children with a million dollars in a toys r us.
Cain's fall in the polls has nothing to do with the ridiculous harassment charges. He held steady for two weeks while the media stoked a fire that was supposed to consume him. It didn't. What's pulling Cain down is his debate performances, juxtaposed with Gingrich's, which show a relative lack of depth. Either of these men would destroy Obama in a debate however. I will savor that, should it come to pass.
"Gingich Soars"...is there a more apt sign that the [R] party has hit the absolute skids????
I mean seriously, forget Obama, [R] vs [D], partisanism........just Gingerich as a candidate. This is the person you want leading our country?? It boggles the mind......
Ron Paul 2012
Do you guys actually believe all these polls? Most of them are listed at a !000 respondents? How many millions will be voiting? And how many do you really think give an honest answer???????
My only question to Republicans regarding Romney is this. How do you know who you're actually voting for? He has no convictions, at least none that can't be changed.
One wouldn't think of conservatives as fickle but good lord. Funny that all their champions should be so sensationally prone to scandal, gaffes, buffoonery etc. This just leaves, Paul, Huntsman and Santorum who haven't taken the lead from or at least matched Mitt for a tick. Good stuff.
Newt?? The name alone disqualifies him.
Restore America Now! RON PAUL 2012
It funny to hear Democrats suddenly concerned that a candidate may have something in their past that is a moral issue. With your protection of Clinton, Kennedy and Obama in this area, you are hippocrites and BS astists. The majority of Americans, (after BHO has shown his cards), have completely caught on to the tactics of the Left. It will be much more difficult to get ANY Democrat elected, or reelected, in the future. A vote for a Democrat (Communist, Marxist, Radical) is a vote to kill the USA.
Cain is a FLAKE. He needs to end the race because nobody believes him, he has no experience and we are already suffering from a bad president, Obama! We don't need 2 bad presidents in a row, not at this point in our economy. Cain step aside and let someone qualified, professional and HONEST take the lead!!!
I'm impressed with Newt Gingrich. By far, he is the smartest and quickest mind. His capacity to answer and account for his positions makes him interesting. Notwithstanding past ethical concerns (politically motivated against him) and his personal choices in romance, he is sharp, conservative, innovative, happily and securely married, well-qualified to be president. At this moment, Romney may be tops because people aren't engaged yet. But once Americans hear Gingrich speak, his range, ideas, and focus, they will feel confidence in him. He's taken some positions I don't like before. But he lead the Republican takeover of Congress in the 1990s and has proven talent.
I like Cain. But even before the unfair allegations, I still wanted to know and see more of the man's ability to be president. I like Michele Bachmann but feel she is not projecting well. Santorum did not look good in the debates. Perry is nose-diving; any candidate who sounds like George W. Bush and stumbles in speech like Sarah Palin will fail. No offense to them, either. Ron Paul is a libertarian nut whose foreign policy is kooky. Huntsman is a Democrat or at least laid down with them and came up with their fleas. Romney is an establishment capon. He's not the one to lead us. It looks like if we want a conservative, we back Newt. And it may not be easy at first. But listen to the guy.
Shows how easy people are influenced by news media. Newt been getting all the good coverage his numbers go up (just like Cain, Perry and Bachmann for a short time). So few decide for themselves, on facts and on candidate’s actual track record. Those that do choose Ron Paul
I laugh when people repeat negative things media says about Ron Paul. They don’t even know they are being manipulated subconsciously by pundits. But I admit it worked on me in the past election. Last time around when someone said Ron Paul, my mind instantly thought(negatives put there) by media . I said psss yea whatever hes crazy<- something that wasnt even my own opinion. so I didnt even look into him. Glad I did not make the same mistake again.
Gingrich's rise won't fade like the others. He is a man of substance and conviction. He doesn't put down his fellow Republicans, and is not afraid to stand up to the liberal media. I predict that Newt will be the GOP candidate and he will destroy Obama in the General election.
So 40% of repubs credit the gals that complained over ten years ago about Cain. That means only 60% of repubs are delusional. Much better than I thought before reading this.
If respect for women is your issue it is good to look beyond Cain... to Newt????
Hey "TLB" – He cheated on wife one for wife two...on wife two for wife three...and he doesn't deny any of that. He was 'encouraged' to step down as Speaker – or he would be removed; he had 84 ethics vilolation charges; he was sanctioned to the tune of 300K; shall I go on?...with that history you can't honestly support him just because he runs as a Republican...have you no standards?
Wow, listen to these people (no doubt democrats) criticizing Newt's puny ethics charges about a tax exempt college course while Obama's friend Kaiser with Solyndra exchanges billions in campaign donations for green government guaranteed loans. And well just mention Clinton and you can't help laughing about cigars and blue dresses. The hypocrisy is in solid form! Other prominent crooks include Reed, Pelosi, Frank and Dodd. Newt is an extremely knowledgeable man who has proven over decades to be a good leader and a true conservative. These things seem to go in cycles... the Democrats are like the kids who have had the run of the house and the Republicans are the parents who finally come home and have to clean up the mess. The kids really messed things up this time though, they burned down the barn.
It is incredibly puzzling how the U.S. voter has such horrible recall of fact.
Newt Gingrich was driven from Washington, D.C. AND Congress – – – In Shame! His reprehensible conduct as a Representative, and as Speaker of the House, should absolutely disqualify him from consideration.
if we are to give Mr. Giingrich a pass on conducting public business like a bottom-dweller, then Tom DeLay is a logical candidate for President, or as the VP running mate for Newt.
For a system that is purported to be the best in the world (elections), it is surely flawed. Wiouldn't it be great if those wishing to vote would subjected to a written civics test?
@ HiroAkita who said: "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."
And that would make him different from obama just how?
I don't usually care about the marriages of politicians but Newt's history, combined with his social conservatism is unacceptable to me. He has been married three times, each time divorcing his wife for a newer younger upgrade. It's none of my business, but he wants to make my personal life his business and legislate a moral code that he's not even capable of following. For those reasons, he's a sleazy hypocrite who will never get my vote.
Romney is the only one that will pull the undecided/moderate crowd. Please don't shoot ourselves in the foot and try to go with a "pure" conservative! Make a few concessions and get the whitehouse!
So the guy who had an affair while he was trying to impeach Clinton and his wife was in the hospital with cancer, has now replaced the guy who is accused of using his influence to gain favor with vulnerable women. Then there's Romney, the Mormon–accused of not being a Christian by the religious right. The religious right is in a bind, now aren't they? But never mind, their right wing politics is more important to them than their religion.