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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So compared to Herman Cain, Newt is a relative moral paragon for republicans? Wow.
I think any candidate who publicly declares they are not opposed to waterboarding should, in fact, be willing to undergo that form of torture. Until George W. Bush permitted it, this nation NEVER tortured other human beings. We are the human rights nation, right?
I'm just embarrased at it all. Cain understandibly is falling in the polls. No rocket science there. You can't dig up a bone where there is none. That being said, his "bones" are talking. Cain of course denies the allegations – they ALL do. Even people with video footage say they are innocent. Anyway, the Rebulican landscape is dismal, one sad sac after another. Comedy is the only thing this whole process is generating. God bless America!
nick2, the GOP has a chance to nominate to good candidate, while the Dems do not.
Will Gingrich steal Romney's Christmas?
Polls are useless.
ABO, Anyone But Obama
We currently have a very good president. He has moved our country forward inspite of rebublicans working against him
and wishing to see the country fail . Republicans only know how to lead the country into war, recessions and depressions.
Ron Paul has support from every side, indepents, democrats, and republicans. He is the most consistent and ideologically sound of the bunch, having voted the same on each issue his whole career. His plan for America is the most stable and will have a positive impact on the economy. I just wish he had more charisma and used this whole occupy movement to his advantage. RON PAUL 2012. If he get the nomination, I am voting for Obama.
What a big test and headache my friends on the other side are experiencing. Romney is not moving to anywhere on polls, Newt is not going to inspire anyone. 2012 can't come quick enough!
In other words, contrary to the make-believe argument GOPsters have been trying to spread over the last few months, it is NOT business experience that really matters to spur growth and employment, it is sheer ideology. The GOPsters are a tough crowd to follow! The requirements to be an effective President change by the minute! Do these people ever make up their minds?
With which percentile of the income distribution is Gingrich's 'contract' going to be this time?
Who on earth was polled? Never Heard of: Romney 14%, Gingrich 16%, Cain 18%. Where do these people live and how were they chosen for polling.? They are supposed to be republicans or independants leaning republican. Amazing. You really can't overestimate the ignornace of 'The American People'
Newt (Mr. family values) lost his position in congress because of ethics violations and admitted that he cheated on his wife with at least three affairs, and told her that he wanted a divorce while she was in the hospital bed with cancer. How much more ethical candidate could the Republicans want than this man! What a joke!
Newt is the only GOP candidate I'd consider voting for. He'll continue to rise in the polls because he's the only candidate who is actually informed about issues and has the education needed to speak to them.
Either we elect Ron Paul, the only candidate with a clue about what to do to fix the economy or we might as well re-elect Obama so we can fully learn how to screw up a country. Ron Paul gets it. These other weak wristed reps either don'y know anything or haven't the guts to stand up and say it. years of economic failure by presidents is too miuch!
Long way to go still, anyone will be better than President Obama, good man just doesn't know anything about running a business or running a Country. Newt is the smartest and most knowledgeable person on stage, Dem or Rep.
If the country would have common sense, you'll put the most experienced individual to run your country, in this case New Gingrich, but we are too caught up in the media gossip, and we end up picking the wrong one......we did it in 2008
Who is making Newt surge? The media. PLEASE! haven't we had enough of this mean-spirited, adulterous man? If Huntsman would surge, I might consider voting for him. Even Mitt Romney is WAY better than Newt any day of the week. Huntsman is a seasoned public servant with a great record and a dynamic family. I don't care if he is Mormon. Most Mormons' family life could put most any evangelical politician's to shame. Yet, America would rather have skirt-chasing, adulterous men as leaders? Or someone who is dumb enough so that the average American can understand them when they speak in half sentences? WAKE UP, Republicans!
I still cannot get over Newt's amnesty vote.
Cain and Gingrichin in any order.
Oh, great, another womanizer. Isn't there any GOP hopeful who respects the citizens of this country? So many egomaniacs who have no morals and think they're above the law. I wretch in disgust.
Ron Paul 2012. Out of the canidates out there and our current President he is the only guy who could possibly create any positive change. Its too bad the media tries to hide the fact he even exists. God forbid the guy just runs and has a good plan. Cant get behind that, he isnt a flashy news story. Media will only back a good news story. They could care less about the issues. There is a large portion of US citizens who are so ignorant they cant make a educated decision on their own so they listen to who the media pushes. Thats how Obama smoke & mirrored his way in office with a catch phrase and no substance. Until American people smarten up and care more things wont change.
Not only does CNN ask bias poll questions but then they report the answers falsely. Reading the results clearly show Dr. Paul as third just 4 points behind Mitt. Don't believe the media as its full of lies. Think for yourselves!
Gingrich has no money and no organization to say nothing of the fact that he was forced to resign in disgrace over ethical charges against him, took money during the bank bailouts, and as John Edwards will attest, the American public tends to turn on guys who cheat on their wives while they're wives have cancer.
The real story here is that Ron Paul is showing the third highest favorable numbers and of the top three, he has the lowest unfavorable numbers.
Cain molested some women (soft-assault?), yet Noot left two wives – one on her deathbed, and is likely a serial cheater.
Neither are good candidates – for anything, Some choices, Reps!
Could it be that these dopes are just to soften the country up for President Palin???