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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I felt for months that there is one person in the Republican party who could beat Obama by a landslide. The man already has credibility with Democrats and Republicans, having served in both administrations, and has experience. The man already has credibility with fiscal hawks since he took the initiative to reduce spending. The man already has great credibility with average Americans since he has held others in power (but still his subordinates) responsible for failure – and fired them. The man, who I would vote for in a heartbeat over any one else, is former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
Like Gingrich's moral compass is any more true than allegedly that of Cain's.
Neither Romney or Gingrich will bring the change Washington must have they are to close to business as ususal in DC. Perry dosent have the intellect. Cain is the only independent and has scared some powerfuls into cleaning thier laundry on him. DO NOT say the nomination is sewed up because if you do today you gurantee Obama a second term and America can't stand that.
All of the Newters are hopping on the globalist band wagon.
RUBBISH! We have many moons to go before the primary. In my opinion it's open and practically anyone can move into first place and grab the nomination. One thing's for sure, if the GOP doesn't get its act together B.O. could very well win by detault and that would be a tragedy beyond comprehension.
Why are people not evaluating Huntsman? He is the logical choice from those before us. I feel sorry for Perry with his mind going blank, ... and as if it has never happened to each of us!! Come on, give the man a break!! And Cain, this is an injustice if he is innocent. Penn State riots yet on real evidence, and a lynching of Cain on what evidence?? But, Huntsman is maybe better than America deserves and America will elect accordingly. But I hope America gets on it;s knees and repents of it's pride and gets on with being whom it claims to be. Huntsman, ... people need to do their homework and look at this man who is clearly the best choice, and for all the right reasons.
That's ok Ron Paul. Slow and steady will win this race. First it was Bachman, then Perry, then Cain, now Newt. We know who the real frontrunner is and when you win Iowa I will be laughing at what everone else has been saying.
Silly libs, it won't matter whom it is from the right, Barry is toast in 2012. Talk about baggage, we are going to here about Barry's baggage this time unlike Gentleman John in 2008. I see 17.5 trillion of debt in 2012 fall time frame, our rating is going to drop again. That is 7.5 trillion in 4years in debt. Silly Libs its the debt stupid.
The Republican Party apparently doesn't believe in history repeating itself. The GOP chose Bob Dole and John McCain because the party felt it owned these men something for years of service. The result was a Democratic victory. Now Romney is running again and I am willing to bet that the party faithful will reward Mitt by nominating him. The result will be an Obama victory in 2012.
Watch the video on youtube that the John Birch society put out about Newt and you will never support him again. This guy is a neocon globalist who would like nothing more than the sovernty of the USA to die. He believes in a one world government and has voted that way every time. Go look at his record, it hasnt been good for america.
In some way, it is better for Cain to go down this way. At least, he can claim that he was 'destroyed' by the left-leaning media and what not, instead of having to remain in the race and expose further his total lack of credentials and knowledge of the issues.
CNN wants the established candidates.... that's why they NEVER covered the CBS Atlanta lie detector story that proved Herman Cain was telling the truth!
I think that Newt came across as the smartest guy in the debate. You can criticize Newt because what you know about his background, but we know almost nothing about Obama's.
So that is not really fair. That said, Ron Paul was treated unfairly.
Unless these are state polls these mean nothing.. 272 electoral votes by state not national
Romney is a non-christian in the south
This is perfect. Hopefully Huntsman will get this 15 minutes right in time for Iowa and New Hampshire.
WoW! CNN sure missed the story! Look at the Poll! Ron Paul is 4 points under Newton, BUT has 6% more never heard of and 5% less unfavorable!! That could be a 11 point swing right there! RP2012
Am not impressed at all the way Newt is behaving during debates. He has been attacking moderators since the first debate. I do wonder why does he go to debate if he thinks he knows better than those who are placing questions to him! I can't wait for the real scrutiny to start, presumably from those he is throwing stones to.
It would be more productive if Gingrich runs for congressman position again, and if he takes over Beorner's leadership, I believe the country is better off, that Gingrich and the President could work together, like grown ups.
Ya know, all this means is that we will be hearing about Newts problems/infidelity, newest mistress etc and then Santorum or Paul will surface as the next contestants on "Name that Republican candidate". In the end, it'll be a Romney/Christie ticket versus an Obama/Biden match up. Any takers?
Only Gingrich and Romney are non psychopatic.
The liberal whining on here is hilarious...."Newt comes across as arogant....a know it all...." These are the EXACT traits of the Oblunder in Chief. Newt will destroy Obama in a debate...it would be worthy of pay-per-view. The reason you libs call him "Smug, arogant, etc..." is because he's simply intelligent, and you aren't capable of understanding anyone that can discuss the issues in depth; but instead want to cling to the shallow "fads," and "catchy phrases," spewed by the DNC and Obama's minions....the Occupiers are the best cross section example of the Obama base, and the liberal media continues to show the country just how pathetic they are...
Cain has too much ego to admit it is over for him.
Gingrich has been vilified in the media since he was Speaker of the House and the assaults on Cain is nothing compared to what is coming for Gingrich. The democrats should be concerned with Newt. He led the republican charge during Clinton's first term and forced him to move to the center. If there is anyone who has the capacity of compromise and civility, it is Gingrich. He would be the only one to annihilate Obama in a debate. Everyone brags about the "Clinton" economy. Remember, the first two years of the Clinton presidency was social medicine and higher taxes. Why else would he lose the congress at mid term for the first time in 40 years? Balanced budgets, welfare reform, etc. came out of the Contract with America and Clinton at least was willing to compromise. If we end up with Obama for a second term, there is no more campaigning required and we will see an epic disaster for this country. God help us.
that would definitely be an amazing political comeback, one of the greatest in american history. from disgraced former speaker to the president. i don't really think that much of a jump is possible.