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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If one really pays attention Newt Gingrich has a very good grasp of all the issues. I am amazed at his ability to speak to an audience without notes or a teleprompter. Regardless of his past indiscretions this country should take a strong look and pay attention to how he addresses all the issues.
Ron Paul 2012!
Corporate interests and an elite financial oligarchy control America, not the American people. Democracy is currently an illusion. The people need to realize that without introducing campaign finance reform, or completely eliminating private interest contributions to candidates, it will remain the same. Ron Paul is the closest to a government founded on America's original core principals. That's why media outlets – owned by the above mentioned – avoid any type of positive reaction to his candidacy like the plague.
Floxlies just reported that Cains shrinking poll and Gingrich ever hardening poll is due to trailer park jealousy of Obama’s enormous black poll. These Polls are getting out-of -hand
We're behind you Newt! Go get'em
No way Romney can beat Obama. These polls will be drastically different after Romney starts debating Obama.
One critically essential thing that Obama and even GW Bush has is their ability to relate to the average American voter. Romney is seriously lacking that and it will be his downfall.
Gingrich is just as sleazy as Cain, he just has affairs with multiple women. He served one with divorce papers when she was in the hospital for treament for breast cancer. This is no moral man. He also was involved in a Congressional scandal back when he was Speaker in th 1990s – so this is evangelical's dream. Gingrich has shown himself to be an arrogant wind bag in the debates. He is just out selling books like Cain and Palin. He never intended to be in office again. I think Romney is the really one wants to be a real candidate but he is so unqualified, so unpriincipaled, and not trustworthy. Who knows he might decide to be a Democrat tomorrow if it would raise his poll numbers? He is laughable and about as genuine as his last 20 different positions on every issue.
Forget the Republicans – get them out of every Congressional seat – re-elect Obama and let's get serious with the obstructionist Republicans gone to getting America back on its feet and our good PEOPLE back to work.
Before the Leftists here puke, please go to Newt.org and honestly read Newt's solutions to the problems facing America that in just 3 yrs and more with a Dem majority in Congress have made worse in triplicate! Newt would crush Bama in a debate because Bama would have to defend his horrors of a record. Americans have to pay attention to the eco, soc.,mil, energy problems this naif in the WH has caused and made worse.
It is totally disgusting that most of you can easily judge GOP candicates, but cannot apply those same measures of scrutiny to the present occupant of the disgraced Oval Office.
Newt Bushbama, no thanks!
The media and accusers are a double standard crowd if ever I saw one. How long did it take CNN et al to cover Jones, Brodderock, Wiley, Flowers and Monica etc. Yet BillC is an ico of media and DNC. If BillC is an icon despite his behavioe with proof and named accusers then Cain should get the benefit of the doubt.
I dislike this time in American history. Politics are at an all time low as are our moral standards. We are ripping each other apart, negative, cynical, hostile. I'm conservative, but I think much of this is coming from the far right. I look forward to an improvement, it can't come too soon.
You must looking at a different set of candidiates than the rest of Amerca. If you think these choices are "good candidates", I would hate to see your interpretation of a flawed candidate. This collection of misfits is laughable. Obama 2012 all the way.
Kudos to Gingrich, he is the smartest one on the dais
You all might not like him on a personal level, but he has the experience and know how to be President. And he's a really smart guy. I would vote for him over Romney in a heart beat. Romney is nothing but a democrat disguised as a republican.
Gingrich is unelectable for more reasons than Carter has pills. Just about everything he says these days flies in the face of his record as Speaker of the House. Never mind his personal baggage.
Your reporting of the favorites from the ORC does not reflect what the CBS poll results are before they took it down. Ron Paul was leading on the CBS poll by approximately 10,000 votes! He had over 27,000 when CBS took the poll down. Have to ask why? Also have to ask why did he only get one question? Did you know he raised over $100,000 during the debate? Well it was not truly a debate by the definition of what a debate is. Will CNN be following Scott Pelley's disgraceful stunt as a "moderator"? I would like to be on the panel with the moderators! I would be fair! Will you?
Sanity, the GOP may have a chance, but they have not acted on it. NO ONE on that dais is electable.
A win-win situation for President Obama!
We all know the polls don't say much and it's a survey from a small number of people. Cain would not have a chance of winning with or without this story. Michelle is just a big joke.
Based on all state/national polls--Romney either beats or ties Obama.
If Romney wins the nomination, Obama WILL be sent back to Chicago in one year!!
The majority of Independents have indicated in all state/national polls, that they WILL support/vote for Romney over Obama.
Unemployment and our economy are not going to miraculously recover in one year. Gas/food prices will not go down in one year.
if Romney wins the nomination-–he WILL be elected in November 2012!!!
If we can say "In God we Trust", I hope that God will have an answer to the daily jeopardy tally of the GOP field. Newt speaks bombastic with little substance and this too shall pass for Romney to calibrate his response. And that too shall pass come election day.
Huntsman has 45% of people polled not knowing who the hell he is. This guy has to start making some noise, quiet people don't win elections.
Since the media has culled Cain out of the race,
It's time for them to start picking on Newt.
There is also a story regarding a change of heart for the Health care mandate.
The media is off to some intense spinning/brainwashing this nice Monday.
Gingrich is too angry. In a debate with the President he will come off as smug, critical and angry. Who wants a guy like that as POTUS?