McClatchy-Marist Poll: Strong Sign that Cain is Sinking and Gingrich Is Rising as Anti-Romney?

Various polls have shown beset former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain holding his own or in some cases seemingly strengthening his status as the emerging Anti-Romney, but these polls also have revealed some of his support — particularly from women — sagging in light of sexual allegations. But now a new McClatchy-Marist nationwide poll has Cain in third place with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich now in the place in the race that many have suggested he’d be: in second place as the newest Anti-Romney:

The Republican presidential race is being shaken up again, with Mitt Romney retaking the lead, Newt Gingrich surging into second place, and Herman Cain dropping to third place, according to a new McClatchy-Marist nationwide poll released Friday.

The poll of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents signaled that Romney retains his steady if uncommanding position and that, in the quest by most Republicans for an alternative, they’ve cooled on Cain and are turning to Gingrich. It’s the first national survey taken entirely since the allegations of sexual harassment against Cain erupted into a full political firestorm this week.

The GOP has a problem if it nominates Gingrich: it needs independent voters and women voters it wants to win and those are precisely the groups that had given Cain a look, been open to his candidacy but are now having second thoughts.

Just as Texas Gov. Rick Perry had a “brain freeze,” Cain may now be heading into a period when he has a polling support freeze.

“Clearly this race has taken yet another dramatic turn. The top tier has gotten more crowded,” said Lee M. Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion at Marist College in New York, which conducted the poll.

“Romney is still where he’s been. It’s fair to say this is a battle for the anybody-but-Romney candidate,” Miringoff said. “Gingrich has now begun his 15 days of fame. Whether he is able to maintain that, as others have fallen, is the question. He may be the only one standing when this is all said and done.”

Here’s the breakdown:

— Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, 23 percent;

— Gingrich, the former speaker of the House of Representatives, 19 percent;

— Cain, the former restaurant executive, 17 percent;

— Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, 10 percent;

— Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, 8 percent;

— Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, 5 percent;

— Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, 1 percent;

— Former Gov. Jon Huntsman of Utah, 1 percent;

— Undecided, 17 percent.

The survey of 347 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents was conducted Tuesday-Thursday and had a margin of error of plus or minus 5.5 percentage points.

What continues to be shocking is the political fate of two people who had been hyped mightily (a la Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani) as people who’d come in and be big players in the race. Perry had been hyped as someone who’d be such a favorite of the Tea Party movement and conservatives, who was so charismatic and skilled, that he’d virtually inhale the nomination away from Romney. And Huntsman had been hyped as someone who’d be a big player and a threat to Barack Obama’s re-election.

Both have numbers so low its hard to image they could be players in future years — let alone 2012.


SOME OTHER VIEWS:

–The Maddow Blog points out the conflicting polls.
Ed Morrissey thinks Gingrich’s time may have arrived:

However, the internals of the Marist poll indicate that this may be precisely where Gingrich is getting his second wind. Among Tea Party adherents, Gingrich has a significant lead over Herman Cain, 28% to 21%. Mitt Romney comes in third at 17%, leading Ron Paul and Rick Perry at 10% each. Surprisingly, Michele Bachmann has dropped to only 3% for Tea Party voters.

He and Romney lead among Republicans, 26/21 Romney with Herman Cain coming in at 15%. Cain leads among independents, 19%, with Gingrich second at 17% and Romney at 16%, essentially a three-way tie within the margin of error. Gingrich comes in third (14%) for “shares your values” behind Romney (22%) and Cain (21%), but he’s second to Romney on “closest to the issues” (28/21, Cain at 18%), second to Romney on the ability to beat Obama (26/23, Cain fourth at 13% behind Michele Bachmann at 14%), and first for having the experience to govern (25/20 over Romney, more than doubling Cain’s 11%).

And here’s a big indicator that Gingrich’s moment has arrived — his support is by far the strongest in the field at the moment. Forty-three percent of his followers strongly support Gingrich. That figure is only 31% for Cain and 30% for Romney. Only 22% of Gingrich supports say they may vote differently, as opposed to 25% for Romney and 28% for Cain.

Gingrich may not be leading this field, but his second wind looks legitimate — and Gingrich is experienced enough to keep from stepping on his momentum.

Doug Mataconis:

As improbable as it seems, we are looking at the Gingrich Boomlet that I talked about last Saturday. This will be the dominant media story for the next week, no doubt, especially if Cain continues to fall in this manner he has. I can’t see how Gingrich lasts, though, given all of his well-known baggage. But then, it’s been a crazy year so who knows what might happen.

Nonetheless, ladies and gentlemen, Newt Gingrich is back.

The New Republic:

Oh, and Newt Gingrich has moved ahead of Herman Cain in the latest McClatchey-Marist poll. I suppose Nostradamus could do something with that. But Romney’s in the lead, with his usual 23 percent. Mitt Romney becoming the inevitable GOP candidate most definitely isn’t a sign that the world is coming to an end.

Perrspectives:

Here in a nutshell is the state of play in the 2012 Republican presidential sweepstakes: alleged serial sexual harasser Herman Cain is being surpassed by confirmed serial adulterer Newt Gingrich. With Mitt Romney stalled and Cain hemorrhaging support from women voters, polls from CBS and Marist show the former House Speaker has surged into a virtual three-way tie at the top. Of course, that should be a discomforting prospect for a Republican Party which lost the women’s vote by 13 points in 2008. As his public statements and personal life show, the thrice-married Gingrich is hardly a champion for American women.

That starts with Newt Gingrich’s belief that marriage is an institution between one man and three women in rapid succession.

Washington Times:

Coupling a string of strong debate performance with rising doubts among the party faithful about the viability of Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Mr. Cain, Mr. Gingrich could become the race’s new magnet for Republicans looking for an alternative to Mr. Romney.

Mr. Gingrich remains a long shot in the race after a disastrous rollout that left him at just 4 percent in GOP polls in mid-August. His organization on the ground — after the defections of key staffers in the early days of the campaign — trails far behind that of Mr. Romney. His fundraising efforts have picked up, with $1.2 million last month, but cannot compete with the bankrolls of Mr. Romney or Mr. Perry.

But polls have detected a clear surge for the former history professor in some of the race’s most critical states, even as he is adding staff, opening campaign offices in New Hampshire and South Carolina and stepping up fundraising appeals.

Cain photo via Darren Brode / Shutterstock.com

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