Politics
Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks during a town hall meeting with employees at the Principal Financial Group, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks during a town hall meeting with employees at the Principal Financial Group, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)  

Poll: Newt Gingrich takes the lead

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Alexis Levinson
Political Reporter

Newt Gingrich has surged in the Republican field, jumping from a middle tier candidate to a front-runner, and now leading the pack, according to a national poll released Monday by Public Policy Polling (PPP).

Gingrich now holds 28 percent of the vote, leading Herman Cain, who is in second at 25 percent, and Mitt Romney, who has slipped to 18 percent. No other candidate makes double digits.

The former Speaker of the House is also the most popular candidate by far, with 68 percent of Republicans saying they hold a positive opinion of him, and just 23 percent saying they hold an unfavorable opinion.

Cain’s popularity, though still high, has taken a hit, falling to 57 percent favorable and 31 percent unfavorable. A majority of Republicans are inclined to feel that the allegations of sexual harassment against Cain are mostly false, that the manner in which the media has treated him is mostly unfair, and 63 percent say the allegations have not affected their opinion of him. But he has still clearly taken a hit, dropping five points in the polls, and his net favorability has dropped from 51 to 26 since PPP last polled in October.

If Cain continues to slip, Gingrich is the likely heir to his supporters. Seventy-three percent of Cain’s supporters hold a favorable view of Gingrich, PPP points out, while both Romney and Perry have negative net favorability ratings among Cain’s supporters.

Additionally, both Georgians draw much of their support from tea partiers, and are by far the most popular candidates among that demographic. Gingrich has an 81 percent favorability rating among tea party supporters, and Cain has a 78 percent favorability. If Cain falls anymore, Gingrich is likely to draw those votes.

Much of Gingrich’s kick likely comes from a strong debate performance Wednesday in Michigan. The poll surveyed voters beginning the day after that debate, and continued through Sunday, thus including the foreign policy debate on Saturday in which Gingrich was also well perceived.

A CNN poll released Monday found Gingrich a very close second to Romney, with Romney at 24 percent and Gingrich at 22 percent. In that poll, Gingrich’s rise corresponds with Cain’s fall, and the pizza mogul nets just 14 percent of the vote —down 11 points since last month.

The polls are a reflection of a surge of support for Gingrich in recent days. His campaign netted $1 million in donations just last week, as The Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis reported, and a Super PAC has been formed to help support his candidacy.

The results are based on 576 Republican primary voters surveyed by robo-call from November 10 through November 13. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

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