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.
So, despite Gingrich’s conservative flaws will Newt be able to curry favor with The Tea Party more than Romney?
Probably and with Herman Cain all but out of the race, Gingrich is looking like the comeback kid.
Guess those Gingrich staffers who quit him and went to work for Rick Perry are feeling fairly low about now.
Stay tuned since the race remains very fluid.