Several new polls show former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is soaring in his new emerging role as the new Anti-Romney as former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain sags amid sexual harassment allegations. In one poll Gingrich is the front-runner. Will Gingrich be “the flavor of the month”? Or will he become the FINAL Anti-Romney who can become central figure in the ongoing Republican political war between the populist/Tea Party branch and the businessman/Country Club Republicans over control of the GOP?
Gingrich is clearly undergoing a big surge if you look at these polls.
A new national survey of Republicans indicates that it’s basically all tied up between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, with Gingrich on the rise and businessman Herman Cain falling due to the sexual harassment allegations he’s been facing the past two weeks.
According to a CNN/ORC International Poll released Monday, 24% of Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP say Romney is their most likely choice for their party’s presidential nominee with Gingrich at 22%. Romney’s two-point advantage is well within the survey’s sampling error.
While the level of support has pretty much stayed the same for Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who’s making his second bid for the White House, Gingrich has seen his support jump 14 points since October.
The poll also indicates that 14 percent back Cain, down 11 points from last month. Four women have alleged that Cain sexually harassed them during the late 1990s when he headed the National Restaurant Association. Cain denies the allegations.
“Cain is struggling with the charges of sexual harassment, and while most Republicans tend to dismiss those charges, roughly four in 10 Republicans think this is a serious matter and tend to believe the women who made those charges,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.
The poll also shows the efforts of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are not totally paying off:
The survey indicates that only a bare majority of Republicans tend to believe Cain, and more than a third say he should end his presidential campaign. Among the general public, Cain has a bigger credibility problem – 50% of all Americans say they tend to believe the women and only a third say they believe Cain.
Which means if the GOP nominated him they would be consciously nominating a candidate with a huge amount of baggage.
“Not surprisingly, there is a big gender gap on this matter – women say this is a serious matter and believe the women, but men say the story has been overblown and are split on which side they believe,” Holland added.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry is at 12% in the survey, basically all even with Cain for third place in the hunt for the nomination.
Newt Gingrich has taken the lead in PPP’s national polling. He’s at 28% to 25% for Herman Cain and 18% for Mitt Romney. The rest of the Republican field is increasingly looking like a bunch of also rans: Rick Perry is at 6%, Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul at 5%, Jon Huntsman at 3%, and Gary Johnson and Rick Santorum each at 1%.
Compared to a month ago Gingrich is up 13 points, while Cain has dropped by 5 points and Romney has gone down by 4. Although a fair amount of skepticism remains about the recent allegations against Cain there is no doubt they are taking a toll on his image- his net favorability is down 25 points over the last month from +51 (66/15) to only +26 (57/31). What is perhaps a little more surprising is that Romney’s favorability is at a 6 month low in our polling too with only 48% of voters seeing him favorably to 39% with a negative opinion.
Gingrich’s lead caps an amazing comeback he’s made over the last 5 months. In June his favorability nationally with Republican voters plummeted all the way to 36/49. Now he’s at 68/23, representing a 58 point improvement in his spread since then. As recently as August Gingrich was mired in single digits at 7%, and even in September he was at just 10%. He’s climbed 18 points in less than 2 months.
There’s reason to think that if Cain continues to fade, Gingrich will continue to gain. Among Cain’s supporters 73% have a favorable opinion of Gingrich to only 21% with a negative one. That compares to a 33/55 spread for Romney with Cain voters and a 32/53 one for Perry. They like Gingrich a whole lot more than they do the other serious candidates in the race.
Cain’s base of strength continues to be with Tea Party voters, where he gets 33% to 31% for Gingrich, and only 11% for Romney. This is where you can really see that Gingrich will be the beneficiary if Cain continues to implode- Gingrich’s favorability with Tea Partiers is 81/14. Romney’s is 43/45. There’s a lot of room for Gingrich to build up support with that key group of Republican voters.
Cain’s continuing to benefit from doubts about whether the allegations against him are true- 54% of primary voters think they are ‘mostly false’ to only 24 who believe they are ‘mostly true.’ Painting himself as a victim of the media is proving to be a good strategy for Cain so far- 61% think it has been ‘mostly unfair’ to him compared to 26% who say it has been ‘mostly fair.’ Only 26% of Republicans say they have a more negative opinion of him now than before the accusations surfaced, and just 27% think he should drop out of the race. All of that’s fine but here’s the bottom line- Cain’s favorability numbers are declining and so is his support. If those trends continue he will fade as a candidate.
The other Republican coming off a bad week is Rick Perry and his numbers have continued on their downward trajectory. Just 35% of GOP primary voters see him positively to 49% with a negative opinion. That’s a 18 point drop compared to a month ago when he was at 42/38. And he’s gone from 14% to 6% in the horse race, a bigger decline than Cain’s.
If there’s any sign of hope for Perry and the other non-Gingrich/Cain/Romney voters it might be the rise of Gingrich.
For months, Iowa Republicans faced with a plethora of choices couldn’t make up their minds. Now, it looks like the first caucus state is headed toward a decidedly split decision.
A new survey, conducted by the Republican firm the polling company, shows five candidates in double digits, with no one really running away from the pack. Businessman Herman Cain leads with 20 percent, statistically tied with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, at 19 percent.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, at 14 percent, is certainly within striking distance. Reps. Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul are both at 10 percent. Four other candidates scored at 5 percent or less, and only 13 percent of Iowa Republicans are undecided.
Cain’s lead, according to pollster Kellyanne Conway, is based on what she calls the “Palin vote.” The embattled businessman, fighting charges of sexual harrassment during his time at the National Restaurant Association in the late 1990s, is getting support from “those hard-core Republicans who coalesce around a candidate they seem as unfairly treated by the media or establishment,” she said.
That means the allegations, perhaps counter to conventional wisdom, are actually good for Cain’s campaign. They’re providing a temporary boost that will likely fade once the issue recedes from the headlines, especially if another Republican candidate finds him or herself at the center of the media scrum.
The poll, conducted Nov. 11-13, surveyed 501 likely Republican caucus-goers in Iowa, leaving a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent. It’s the second survey in a row, after the Des Moines Register poll released late last month, that shows Cain leading, and it’s the first state-specific poll that has Gingrich surging too.
The Gingrich surge in Iowa mirrors two national polls, released over the weekend, that showed the former speaker close to the head of the pack.
The American Prospect’s Jamelle Bouie says the polls create an illusion that is just that: an illusion.
The reasons for his newfound popularity aren’t hard to grok; the once-ascendent Herman Cain is embroiled in a sexual-harassment scandal, and Rick Perry has alienated conservatives with his complete inability to articulate a complex thought. That conservatives would leave Herman Cain for a thrice-divorced serial adulterer is a little unexpected, but makes sense given the dynamics of the race, in which conservatives are desperate for someone to stand against Mitt Romney.
But Newt Gingrich isn’t a serious candidate either, and if you want to know why, take the previous explanation for why Cain isn’t a real candidate, and swap the names. Like Cain, Gingrich has done few of the things necessary to building a viable campaign for the presidential nomination. Large chunks of his time have been spent outside of the three early primary states, where his organizations are threadbare. He has $300,000 cash on hand, compared to the millions raised by Romney and Texas Governor Rick Perry, and has few endorsements from Republican Party activists and lawmakers. According to Mark Blumenthal’s poll of “power outsiders,” only 20 percent say they stand a good chance of endorsing the former House Speaker.
All of this is to say that you should ignore the noise. Like Bachmann, Perry, and Herman Cain before him, Gingrich is basking in the spotlight generated by a desperate conservative movement. As soon as it becomes clear that Gingrich is a terrible choice for facing Barack Obama, they’ll turn their attention elsewhere.
Partisans can quibble over the adjective “desperate,” but this is a fact: Gingrich will be a hard sell to many independent voters, moderates, and Democrats who feel Barack Obama has been to far to the right or too far to the left. Gingrich will be a nominee of the base, by the base and for the base. Another factor: neither his GOP foes nor the media have yet really focused on Gingrich and dumped their opposition research. That’s coming — and probably soon now that these polls are out.
Three possibilities: (1) the final nominee will indeed by Romney and, (2)Perry will surge again due to his whopping bankroll and expected deluge of campaign ads, (3)there will be a serious movement to draft someone else.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.