News Column

Herman Cain's Fall Fuels Newt Gingrich's Double-digit Lead

Dec. 7, 2011

Susan Page

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich not only has built a double-digit lead over Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination in a new Gallup Poll. He also now scores the most support of any GOP contender this year.

Gingrich's 37 percent standing is the highest of the year in Gallup surveys that have seen a string of seven candidates or potential candidates leading or tied for the lead.

Not since the tumultuous 1964 race have there been bigger swings in voter sentiments in a Republican nominating contest.

The findings illustrate how Gingrich has benefited from the precipitous fall of former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain, who on Saturday suspended his campaign in the wake of allegations of personal misbehavior.

Compared with a Gallup Poll taken in early November, when Cain was riding high, Cain's support has dropped by 22 percentage points. In that time, Gingrich's support has risen by 24 percentage points.

And Romney?

His support was at 22 percent then and is at 22 percent now. That stability is a signal of a strength and a weakness: Romney's support has remained steady while other candidates have soared and crashed, but he has yet to significantly expand his appeal.

Gingrich trounces Romney among Tea Party supporters -- 47 percent to 17 percent -- and gets twice as much support among those who identify themselves as conservative. The two candidates are essentially tied among those who aren't Tea Party supporters and among moderates and liberals.

The other contenders are in single digits, including Texas Rep. Ron Paul at 8 percent, Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 7 percent, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann at 6 percent, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum at 3 percent and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman at 1 percent.

The results released Tuesday launch a daily Gallup Poll that will track the GOP standings based on five-day rolling averages. The survey was based on interviews taken Dec. 1-5 with 1,277 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who are registered to vote. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2011

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