Herman Cain has surged into a statistical tie with Mitt Romney in the Republican presidential primary race, and has edged out Rick Perry for second place, according to the latest Gallup poll.
Cain, who until last week was considered a second tier candidate, now sits at the top of the Republican primary field, and 18 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents nationwide say they would vote for him if the primary was held today. Romney holds a narrow lead over Cain with 20 percent of the vote. Rick Perry sits in third with 15 percent.
Perry and Cain have both seen a drastic reversal in fortunes since Gallup last polled the race three weeks ago. Then, Cain was near the bottom of the pack with just 5 percent of the vote, and Perry boasted a seven-point lead over Romney, taking 31 percent of the vote.
That movement is also reflected in the two candidates’ positive intensity scores, which Gallup measures as the percentage of those who hold a strongly unfavorable opinion of the candidate subtracted from the percentage who hold a strongly favorable opinion of the candidate, among those voters who are familiar with the candidate. Last week, Cain clocked a positive intensity score of 30, the highest of any candidate thus far. His score rose since September, when it was a 22.
Perry, on the other hand, has seen a decline in his score, which is now at 15, having previously fallen from 25 when he announced his candidacy in August to 22 in September.
Romney’s numbers, on the other hand, have remained fairly constant. His share of the vote dropped from 24 percent last month to 20 percent this month, but his numbers have hovered in this range since May. (RELATED: Republican congressman endorses Romney, incurs tea party wrath)
Ron Paul, who was in third place in September at 13 percent, has seen a downturn, dropping to 8 percent, only narrowly edging out Newt Gingrich for fourth place.
The candidates will try to capitalize on their momentum, or reverse their fortunes, in Tuesday’s Republican primary debate in New Hampshire.
The results of the poll are based on telephone interviews with 1,064 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents from October 3 to October 7, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.