Poll: Cain leads Republican field

Alexis Levinson | Political Reporter

Herman Cain is the new frontrunner to be the Republican nominee, according to a Public Policy Polling poll released Wednesday that found him leading Mitt Romney by eight points.

In the nationwide poll of likely Republican primary voters, Cain got 30 percent of the vote. Mitt Romney came in second with 22 percent, and Newt Gingrich has made a stunning surge into third place, taking 15 percent. Rick Perry is in fourth with 14 percent. No other candidate breaks double digits.

Cain is also the most popular candidate in the race, with 66 percent saying they have a favorable opinion of him, and just 15 percent saying they have an unfavorable opinion of him. By contrast, Romney’s favorability is 55-31, and Gingrich’s is 57-30.

Cain also appears to have seized the tea party mantle. A 39 percent plurality of self-identified tea partiers name him as their candidate of choice, while 16 percent name Gingrich, 14 percent name Perry, and 13 percent name Romney. Cain’s support also crosses into other aspects of the Republican Party, and he gets 27 percent of support from those who do not identify with the tea party, and 23 percent of the vote from those who are not sure.

If the race narrowed down to Cain and Romney, Cain would take it — 48 percent to 36 percent. And if the race came down to Cain and Perry, Cain would dominate, taking 55 percent to Perry’s 27 percent.

Perry’s fortunes have decidedly fallen. He has dropped 17 points since last month, when he led the field with 31 percent of the vote. In a race between he and Romney, he loses — 38 percent to 48 percent — and he would also lose to Cain — 27 percent to 55 percent. Voters have very mixed views of the Texas governor, with 42 percent saying they have a favorable opinion and 38 percent saying they have an unfavorable opinion.

However, voters remain fairly undecided at this point in the race: Just one-third say that they are strongly committed to the candidate they said they would vote for, while 67 percent say they might end up supporting a different candidate. (RELATED: GOP candidates go after Cain’s 9-9-9 plan in debate)

Though Perry has fewer supporters, they remain among the most committed for any candidate. Twenty-one percent say they are strongly committed to Perry, while just 11 percent say they could vote for someone else. Cain’s supporters, on the other hand, are split, with 29 percent of those who said they would vote for him saying they strongly support him, and 34 percent saying they could end up supporting a different candidate. Romney’s supporters are also split.

The poll is based on an automated survey of 484 usual Republican primary voters from October 7 to October 10, and has a 4.5 percentage point margin of error.

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