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.
CNN Poll: Support rises for health insurance mandate
Democrats obsessed with Romney?
Cain 'totally respects women,' wife says
Here's the bottom line. We (our government) needs to STOP SPENDING more money than we have coming in, period. Why is that concept so hard to understand? Doesn't matter if it's Republican or Democrat...the government is on a spending spree with YOUR money. The governement is so out of touch with reality it's crazy. The only thing the government should be doing is protecting our borders and protrecting our country from attack with our military. Period. Everything else they are doing causes red tape, more government and more opportunity for the government to spend money that is not theirs. Sheesh. When we are spending $4B PER DAY (oh yeah, borrowing 65% of each dollar we spend)....something is terribly wrong. It's a good thing we citizens don't live like that...or it'd be a lot worse.
Nick, do you vote for someone because he "looks like a president"? What are you, 12?
The young Ron Paul in service uniform looks like Captain America.
Huntsman, Huntsman, Huntsman. Not polarizing, BEST resume, moderate.
CNN poll, now there is a sound, reliable, trustworthy poll that stands on it's own merit.
Next debate will definitely hear more about Gingrichs million dollar Tifanny credit line at zero percent interest. Wow so he believes the people who are facing foreclosure should pay interest but not him. This dude dumped his wives and faced 86 ethics voilations. Hope he is the GOP 2012 nominee.
Whadda choice when ole' eye of Newt with the Tiffany line of credit pops up, like Bozo the Clown, to a runoff with Mitt? Spare us, please. The Republicans had a very poor vetting process – I mean, really, Michelle gloats over 100 foster kids but denigrates our right to life by trying to kill fresh air and clean water? Hermie loves the touchy feely approach to CEOdom? Rick belongs only in PA, not in the national spotlight. And Ron Paul totters about, decrying any and all foreign aid and close our bases when the guy came of age during the Cold War when deterrence became the watchword and should remain so? Let's get with the program and think 2016, Republicans. It's your only hope.
Gingrich? Good Lord, what a sad testament to the desperate state of the republican party.
For all you "patriots" who are so concerned about Newt's alleged domestic "baggage" and who weren't concerned in the slightest about Clinton's (Twice!), you go ahead and vote for Marx Lite. I'm with a man who comprehends the historical sense of purpose of a nation unique in the annals of the entire world.
the tea party was supposed to stop business as usual in Washington, so they want Newt Gingrich! really?
Gingrich? Are you kidding? Cain's problem was disrespect to women; Newt's problem is:...wait for it...he doesn't respect women! What a gang of losers!
You'll not in the photograph that all of the Republican candidates know to put their RIGHT hand over the heart unlike our dear leader Obummer, who either uses his left hand or gives the crotch salute.
BIG MISTAKE – Gingrich will never be President, he showed what an idiot he was as Speaker. CNN and the rest will promote him because they know he can't defeat their darling Obummer.
@jeff, I had done the same thing for years as well. I guess now we know CBS' candidate, it's plastered all over these comments.
But truly people do your own homework and research, the media has an agenda. They hope most of you are too lazy to do your own fact finding and will feed you lies. In turn you will spread those non facts, lies, mistruths. And most of you are buying into them. It's called the virus of the mind.
What you saw Saturday night was not a debate, it was a set up. Think about it. Did each get to answer every question? Did some get more questions than others? ASK YOURSELF WHY and then RESEARCH THE ANSWER!
I've been praying for this turn of events since the get go... Gingrich is the only one of the bunch with any intelligence at all.
I wonder what those former Gingrich advisers and staff who abandon him (and went to Perry) are thinking now?
The Republicans really have no idea who they want, as they have become a flavor-of-the-month club.
It's only going to get
a candidate who has the following qualifications and platform would make republicans proud.
stop foreign aid
make america energy independent
reduce federal government
put a flat rate income tax of 20% in place
tighten up medicaid abuses
reintroduce states' rights
government experience, including three terms as governor of the best-run state: no state income taxes, state that
produces more than half of all jobs in the country
the only veteran, over 4 years as an air force pilot, of all candidates of either party
no 'secrets' in his background
a man of faith
no phony veneer
the country's most knowledgeable candidate on border control and cartel warfare and on energy exploration
government 'experts' not friendly
a fiscal conservative
a social conservative
governor rick perry is all of the above. as a concerned american, i ask your consideration.
Cain did this to himself when he changed his name from Herman Cain to Herman Koch. He is a Koch brother from another mother.
The Democratic smear campaign looks like it's finally taken Herman down. It looks like the hacks have finally cut Cain down, it took awhile. Newt is probably the best man for the job, anyway. Cain was my first choice, with Newt second but Newt has so many people that hate him. They either love him or hate him. We shall see. Romney is just sitting back thinking it is his turn.
I will vote for Romney if it comes down to him or Obama. As Obama has been a disaster, just as I thought he would be. It will be scary to have another 4 years of BHO as his plan is to collapse the whole American system and at the rate he is going Obama will have us in debt to the tune of 20 trillion dollars which is unsustainable. Don't the people understand what that means? The Great Depression will be thought of as the good ol' days.
It's only going to get worse for them.
Most can't remember what "checkered past" Newt had. The Contract with America was great leadership. If he could do half as good the second time around it could bring this country back but most the libs on CNN don't really care who will be on the Republican side anyway.
Newt's problem is interacting with people. He is a loner "know it all" who will offend even his own Party members.
His role should be as "adviser to the President".
I just ask all those cancer survivors out there to remember that this is a man who dumped his wife when she had cancer and went off with another woman.
Newt would demolish Obama in a debate.