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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Republicans are a JOKE ... retreads and mark-downs are all they have to offer – the only decent candidate they have, Huntsman, won't play paddy-cake with the right-wing nutjobs of among the primary voters ... this liberal is no fan of Obama – who is about 2 degrees removed from George W. Bush in terms of actual policies and actions taken ... what a pathetic choice for 2012 ... when I voted for Obama in 2008 I thought I'd get a handful (or fistful) of Angela Davis, not a truckload worth of Angela Merkel
He's for corporate welfare: funding green projects that don't work like wind and solar. Back of the line numbnuts!
P.S. I'm a professional entertainer btw (i use aliases..for your info.)........ your moderation...means precisely DICK to me....you'll all be hearing from me shortly... whether you like it or not........
"Veteran" had the ticket that would bury the GOP forever. Newt and Allen West?! Why not Dr Moriarity (SP?) and Ghengis Kahn? Yeah, THERE'S two people I want with their fingers on the buttton.
Anybody but the muslim communist Hussein Obama !
A lot can still happen.
Remember when Hillary was leading Obama?
Nothing I like better than a line of traitors singing our national athem while planning to continue gutting our country in the name of greed.
Michelle: OMG, I remember when Newt Gingrich said that. They had a reporter at a red carpet event and she was talking to Cybil Sheppard about what Newt had said. Cybil said, "can we just have him put to sleep"?
About this poll, ENOUGH with the polls, they change with weather. When the time comes (Nov. 6, 2012) the voters will speak and it will be President Obama for another 4 years. Gingrich and Romney just are not presidential material. Romney is a dept. store mannequin, and Gingrich, well he's just plain old-school and not very attractive.
Notwithstanding the fact I did not and won't vote for the present prez, (I haven't voted for a warmonger for over 50 years) I am fascinated that supposedly sophisticated and intelligent people are continuing this charade of "flavor of the month." it will take more than the limited theme of "out with Obama," to forge a reasonably strong challenge. There are serious and potentially devastating issues, both domestic and international, facing our nation. Major instability, as illustrated by the symptomatic OWS event(s). Unemployment and economic stability head the list. The trite and simplistic notions of the Tea Party types about "returning" to better times by constraining government domestic programs, is exactly contradictory. Historically, it is impossible to "go back." Only the government can bypass that "I got mine" greed; a mantra based upon corporate America's bottom line of profit above all. There is not a single innovative and charismatic candidate in the entire group of potential repub candidates. It's same old, same old, which will almost guarantee an Obama second tour.
Without knowing what she really would stand for, and all the negative speculation, Sarah Pain was the most viable, as indicated by the fact that she was, finally, her own person. After all, people with less attraction, and backing, are still "hanging on."
Say what you want- but ANY of them could do a better job than the clown we have now!
Only Ron Paul has a credible plan to fix whats wrong with America, more freedom, less government, no wars, less military and more trade with other nations. We create ur enemies with the wars and coups we support worldwide not because "they hate us for our freedom" – we are less free than many of the countries we complain about. Recently on a trip to China I was impressed that there is more freedom and less government interference in a communist nation that in our own!
What a bunch of liberal nuts read and post on CNN. Get a life and realize that simply because someone disagrees with the direction this country should be going in doesn't make them an awful human being. I am a libertarian and find it disgusting the personal attacks on the republican candidates' lives. Wow, Newt is on his third marriage, Romney is a crazy morman, Cain is a womanizing creep. So what; I'm sure you all have lived like saints your entire lives. Would you like to be judged in your next job interview based on the fact that you have been married before, or you used some lousy pick up line on a woman when you were at a bar in college, or based on your religion? Give me a break. Obama is an awful president, he may or may not be an awful human being. But you know what, my job is to judge his record as president and not judge him based on his friends, or what church he goes to, etc. Stop drinking the 'haterade' and listen to the candidates ideas. Believe it or not, a person you don't like personally may have the best ideas for this country.
Obama would wipe the floor with Gingrich on a debate. No doubt. I am an independent voter and I cannot see myself voting for any of the Republican candidates. They are just too out-of-touch with middle America, especially Romney.
Feel the love, honesty, and compassion from the loving conservative brothers and sisters posting on here. They make you just wanna join up with them. Remember when the GOP had candidates with an actual resume. Geesh, never thought I'd think George H. Bush was a decent president, but these candidates are a joke!
Gingrich is a known person. Romney is not. I'd be terrified if our national defense were in his hands. He would be consulting both his PR people and the Prophet in Utah.
Quote "The King"
Obama's got this election all wrapped up. Let the de-bushing recovery continue!!!
My question is how long before the "de-bushing recovery" starts!! 8) What has recovered in the last 3 years? Please tell me. As bad as the GOP field is.... ( and it ain't great). We are at the point where ANYONE is better. Sad but so TRUE! I wish the dems could nominate another candidate besides Obama. Then we would at least have some choices.
WOW.... the Republican "family voters" TRULY have been hijacked by a mysterious party
Newt's problems are with marriage.. affairs.. Isn't that worse then hitting on someone and being rejected like Mr Cain?
So who exactly did they poll? An irrelevant elderly jewish enclace in Florida?
Ron Paul is even less appealing than Obama !
A CNN poll? There you go ...
Gingrich has risen to the top because in the debates he is so obviously the smartest, articulate and informed person on the stage. He truly thinks outside the box which is what this country will need in the coming years. He runs rings around the other candidates with the exception of Romney, and he beats Romney because Conservatives are not convinced that Romney is a RINO. That said, any of the Republican candidates are ten times better than the socialist Obama who the mainstream media got elected despite being a glib con artist with no experience whatsoever to be president.
Obama will mop the floor with any of them.
Historically and politically speaking, Newt is the smartest man in the room, and has good command of the facts. He could debate the present occupier of the WH under the table...any time, any day. All I have to say is...ABO.
sooo funny reading all your left leaning points of view, such as newt has no ideas or newt talks like a know it all, news flash Newt IS the smartest guy in politics, he has a wealth of knowledge along with a staggering amount of AMerican history knowledge in his hip pocket... doesn't have a plan? every time he opens his mouth he is talking about one plan after another, from health care to education to jobs to the economy to energy AND all the regulations brought on by odum bo that is crushing business AND he tells you where to go find the info he is talking about.
ok, now, ask yourself this... do you really think odumb o would stand any chance in a debate against Newt? as for social issues? I don't care what is in his past, everyone evolves and NO ONE is perfect, we don't need mr perfect we need a man with experience and vision, something sorely lacking in the current administration.
after iowa Santorum will be gone, Bachman will be gone, Paul will be gone, Huntsman is already gone, Perry's ego will keep him in and Cain's honor will keep him in, after New Hampshire Perry will be gone, after SC Cain will be gone... at that point Romneys weakness will become extremely clear and Newt's strengths will make him more and more appealing to the general electorate