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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Well, it's been over 15 years... so you'll have to forgive the "SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES" for totally forgetting about Newt's past.. you know, where he cheated on wive(s), lied constantly.. you know.. that sort of thing. I guess looking past your own morals is OK if you think the guy (might) push your own personal agenda. What a trainwreck for the GOP.
Newt will fall when everyone starts talking about him divorcing is dying wife... In my opinion thats worse than Cains harassment
Let them continue to eat their own. Romney may have the greatest chance of both winning the nomination and beating President Obama but the long-standing facts remain: the economy was in the can during the reign of King George, has not been helped by the GOP and whatever plan they hatch is not going to solve our economic woes within a single term. If anything, a concervative will try to change America in ways which result in more problems and increased frustration by already fickle voters. Perhaps if the GOP would have cooperated more and obstructed less we'd all be in better shape.
Newt is the smartest man running or in office hands down. His problem is that most Americans do not understand the issues nor do they care to understand the issues. It really comes down to people's perception, speaking ability and overall likeability of a candidate as portrayed by the media.
Doesn't matter who wins the GOP spot, Obama is done
Newt vs Obama in a debate....Obama gets slaughtered
I really hope people wake up to why the media is blacking out Ron Paul. If you looked at his 30 year record you would find a man who has NEVER swayed from his political positions, he's NEVER taken donations from banks, corporations or lobbyists, he's fought for our soldiers when they wanted to revoke benefits from them. He's fought for transparancy of the Federal Reserve, which is just a group of bankers who print money out of thin air that creates inflation, create interest rates that radically screw with the market. He's the only canidate that has actually served the military and that's why he's the most supported by our miltary men and woman!!! He's not bought like the rest of them. If you research him, you will see he is the most consistant record of all the other canidates. If you want your country to repair itself, he is the only hope!! $1 Trillion budget cut in the first year and his salary will be that of the working man $45k/yearly. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Paul
YOU GO NEWT, yes he is the smartest one on the panel and has had plenty of experience. We need someone to do the job and take charge not travel for 4 years and DO NOTHING BUT MESS UP
I'd say with these republican contestants-Obama can relax he's going to win 2012....and I'm a libratarian
Wow! You all seem to be really pleased with Obama. Please articulate to me what positive changes he has brought to this country? –as "the man in charge". Please articulate to me the positive of crushing debt he has poured upon this nation in the last three years (go look up the debt numbers!). Please explain to me one once of extra transparency he was suppose to bring to Washington. Please explain to me the positives of all his campaign bundlers that are getting tax payer dollars in the form of Dept of Energy investment (i.e. your tax dollars). Please explain to me what part of at stagnant 9.0+ percent unemployment add to our lives. I guess if you feel lucky you can articulate how Obamacare has enhanced our economic standing in life too! Alas, take the same fine tooth comb that you like to utilize while analyzing conservatives and apply them to you own party. To state that anything has gotten better in this country since Obama was elected is simply an untruth
Newt is definitely smarter than the rest of the bunch but his morals make Clinton look like a Saint.
Your are either Democratic operative, trying further to paint the Tea Party as "extreme" and "racist," or you are a fool that believes all you read in the media and from the Dem's propagandists. If you had ever gone to even one Tea Party event, you would have realized that a bunch of peaceful folks that simply want less taxes and smaller government are not the threat you believe (or pretend) them to be.
The GOP should put the Romney-Newt on the ticket.
With Romney's Health Care, and Newt's contract with America, things should be great . And add to that, Newt, the Professor of Re-Writing History, will once more have to tell us how he was carrying on an affair, while his wife was dying of cancer, and criticizing Clinton.
Another strong showing by Ron Paul ignored by the media. I have a feeling they are going to be quite surprised when he takes the Iowa Caucus.
LOVE NEWT! Sensible and substantive talk about how the economy works and what needs to be done to fix it. I dont give a crap about his personal love life. I didnt care about Clintons either!
that they would rather vote for Newt?
And our President wins another GOPtee-bagger debate!
And Obama will win again in 2012!
Cain is a good man but the fabrications and mischaracterizations are bound to take a toll on his numbers. Newt is the most intelligent person vying for President on the left or right which is exactly why he may be questionable. If he's the smartest person in the room and knows it, he'll never truly listen to another viewpoint. Frightening. At the end of the day, Obama has to go. He should never have gotten the nomination over Hillary and has proven he was and still is NOT up to the job. Our country was hurting when he took office and now it is a hot mess. He's all image, no clue.
Speaker Gingrich is the most prepared and experienced of each of the candidates to assume the responsibilities of President of the United States.
You have a current President taking this country to its knees, millions of jobs, homes lost and a Congress enriching itself on insider trading and your worried about a divorce scandal?
at Sanity: the liberal slander machine going against Newt? First, Newt is not a confirmed gop candidate. The "slanderous" things surrounding Newt are of his own making. You notice that he talks only about foreign policy, economics etc.
Not about faith much ( a very recent convert to catholicism, how will that sit with religious fundamentalists?).
And he sure doesn't play the "family values" card! Because he's got dirt on his stick a mile long. As a politician Gingrich is a divider and a power hungry egotist. Smart? Sure, but he's also ruthless and self promoting. Not what we need in a president. Thanks, Newt, go back to publishing biased books and videos.
We're in the mess we're in and these eight are our best hope? Help us out here, Rubio, Thune...anybody!?
Im an independent and ill be voting for Obama. Not cause I think he is the best president ever ( although not nearly as bad as some would try to make him) but, because the Republican party is a joke...I mean a huge circus, at least act like you care about this country and its citizens a little bit
Never cared for Newt until I actually listened to the debate in Iowa – WOW!! Hands down, Newt knows his stuff – he knows America and every inch of how the Government works. He is patriotic and the best man for turning this country around. Newt won my vote – NEWT 2012!!!!!!!
Newt is Newt. He will put his foot in mouth eventually. Hopfully it's sooner rather than later. Then everyone can fall in line and vote for Romney. The only one who can beat President Obama.
How about that? The guy responsible for all the things Bill Clinton likes to take credit for, Welfare Reform, Balanced Budget, etc, is now surging in the polls. The media will continue to refuse to get too negative on Romney and Huntsman, as they would love to have either of them win the GOP nomination. Newt's problem is that he is almost always the smartest guy in the room- and he knows it, which is why he often comes across as arrogant. The good thing about Newt, as we have seen in the debates, is that he will call out the media when they aren't being truthful. This will create even more negative stories that the leftist lemmings will whole heartedly believe, while rallying the conservative base. A debate between Obama and Gingrich would be hysterical. Faced with having to display a grasp of foreign and economic policy without relying on someone else's words on a teleprompter, Obama will be left with nothing more the his usual uttering of "uh's" and "um's" the media delete from their transcripts.
Newt is the most qualified candidate. Spend time to read his books and his speech and interviews.