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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Calling the party of family values, calling the party of family values. What a joke! Now you're supporting Newt who everyone knows for a fact is a cheater and a hypocrite. We Independents WILL NOT go back to where this country was during the Bush/Cheney years and that is all we'll get with a Repub President. Gingrich may have worked with President Clinton to help balance the budget but his ideas are still stuck back in the 1990's. Face it....none of these candidates are worth the time of day and have no new ideas. My vote is with Obama.
NEWT IS THE REAL CONSERVATIVE, INTELLIGENT, PRO-AMERICAN, EXTREMELY KNOWLEDGEABLE IN DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND WOULD BE RESPECTED BY BOTH THE REPUBLICAN HOUSE AND THE FORTHCOMING REPUBLICAN SENATE! Newt would NEVER apologize for America and would elevate America back to her rightful place of strength and respect. If you have never really listened to him or read any of his books you don't really know him.
I guess it's time for the liberal CNN attack dogs to turn their attention to Newt and attempt their character assassination that they are known to attempt on strong conservatives. I'd love to see Newt or Cain one on one with Obama in a debate. Obama wouldn't stand a chance.
Somebody PLEASE ask Romney in a debate how he hopes the Supreme Court will rule on his/Obama's healthcare plan!!!
yeah right, like the GOP would really select to pit a black candidate against Obama.
Newt Gingrich is a certified liar. The guy has had scandal after scandal, both in his personal life and his professional life. He'd never get elected, ever.
Now that Gingrich is nearing the top, they'll dig up something on him too. Interesting how nothing is coming up on Romney. He must be a media favorite. The media chooses someone and lynches the rest. It never really mattered how the public felt about it anyway because the public is to stupid to figure things out for themselves. Most people just spit out negative comments they see on TV because that is their ONLY source of candidate information. Barrack Obama was a media favorite. So, I predict Romney and Obama in 2012.
As much as I dislike the policies of the current occupant of the White House. I am a right-wing conservative. I will not vote for an adulterous Gingrich or a liberal Romney. Where Romney a conservative, I would vote for him. I really don't care about his religion.
This is the best the Republicans can do? What a shame.
Gringrich is rising now, but wait until his dirty laundry is aired out again. I need not repeat some of his failings that led to his ouster as Speaker. Ron Paul has a plan to Restore America – cut $1 trillion in spending, balance the budget and fix the economy. Everyone should check it out.
Too funny. Romney never budges from 24% while the rest crash and burn from what must be flaky tea party support. Jon Stewart was right, Romney isn't saying anything cause he feels 24% is enough to beat any of these "yahoos." lol
I agree that Obama is putting diapers on when he realizes he's going to have to face Romney. May the best man win.
Huntsman definitely seems to be the best of the lot. He served a president of another party when asked to because he believes in service to this country over service to his political agenda or party (which of course makes him a traitor in the eyes of the GOP). He also seems to be the only one supports science, and even has a firm grasp on some scientific theories unlike others.
Would I vote for him? I would reserve that decision until some actual debates with Obama. But it isn't going to happen. The loudness is winning over the substance.
Yes, Romney is presidential material. I hope he wins.
Newt will meet more opposition than the rest. Some are simply about Obama/liberal bashing, but Newt is the most anti-free speech of the group. It's only his version of the facts that he wants to see in print.
I'm sure Newt's waiting for the liberal to jump on his character. Maybe not the best character, but he's human with a strong political passion who is sharp.
credit the cnn attack machine. another conservative goes down. meanwhile, cnn comes to the defense of john edwards, bill clinton, charlie rangel, etc...
you have to give credit to cnn. their attacks work.
Don't believe the Polls! Their all run by the establishment. Do you want International Banksters and Multi-National Corporations deciding who your candidate is? NO See were your being pushed and go the opposite direction. Ron Paul is the only Patriot amongst the bunch. The establishment knows that and will do everything to destroy his campaign. They will never stop The Will Of The People!
Newt Ginrich's record!! Come on!! http://vimeo.com/6445068
Gingrich is a fraud. He was a huge part of the GOP-driven deregulation that caused the banking industry to run amok and collapse.
The man is un-electable.
It is hilarious watching the GOP dance around an indisputable fact: Romney is their only viable candidate. They just can't accept that the country is not as extreme right as the vocal minority known as the teabaggers.
Newt is smart and smug and scary! He thinks it's OK for a government panel to decide whether or not a person can be assasinated by our government. Forget the rule of law. This is the same government that can't run anything well and has a history of corruption and bad decision making. Why anyone would like Newt is beyond me, but I think part of his appeal is that he's a sharp speaker. I'm sick of smooth talkers though. Obama is a smooth talker – a good speaker. It means nothing. Used car salesmen are smooth talkers. So are compulsive liars. Hey – maybe it does mean something? It means we are all suckers to fall for style over subtance. Give me substance now. Ron Paul please.
It shouldn't take a genius to say "WHOEVER WINS THE GOP NOMINATION TAKE THE OTHER AS V.P.". Either a Romney/Gingrich ticket or a Gingrich/Romney ticket. Make it simple. And whatever it takes to take Obama out.
Newt Gingrich wouldn't be able to beat Jimmy Carter, much less Obama.
Romeny may have the ability to gain more moderate votes but many of the far right republicans do not like the idea of a Mormon getting in office. Look at what Kennedy went through in 1960. Some Protestants, such as Norman Vincent Peale, still feared the Pope would be giving orders to a Kennedy White House. To allay such fears, Kennedy kept his distance from church officials and in a highly publicized confrontation told the Protestant ministers of the Greater Houston Ministerial Association on September 12, 1960, "I am not the Catholic candidate for President. I am the Democratic Party's candidate for President who also happens to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my Church on public matters — and the Church does not speak for me. He promised to respect the separation of church and state and not to allow Church officials to dictate public policy to him. I find the right wing Protestants the most appalling creaters in the United States. Why don't protestants have to make seperation of church and state statements when running for office?
Ron Paul is the only candidate who doesn't tell the people what they want to hear. He doesn't flip flop, he never lies, he has a perfectly common sense approach to everything from the economy to foreign policy. He's the only person you can bet will actually do the things he says, he's the only one who warned us about the economic bubble that was bound to burst and he'll get us all back to work without sticking his hands up any skirts. Why would you vote for anyone else? Ron Paul vs The Liars.