Two national polls of Republican primary voters released today, one from Marist / McClatchy and the other from CBS News, show former House Speaker Newt Gingrich surging. This confirms what pundits have chronicled for several weeks – that Gingrich’s campaign has entirely recovered from mistakes earlier in the year due to his rather stellar debate performances. The question these polls leaves us with, however, is Cain losing support rapidly or weathering the storm? These polls leave us with conflicting results.
In the CBS poll, Cain maintains his frontrunner status with 18 percent support. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Gingrich are tied at 15 percent. However, in Marist’s poll, Cain drops to third place, behind Romney’s 23 percent and Gingrich’s 19 percent support among Registered Republicans.
Romney’s support is static at 23 percent and 15 percent respectively in these polls. This is reflective of a trend that has been a constant through the year; Romney’s support has a floor of about 15 percent and, evidently, a ceiling at around 25 percent. Romney’s support comes from the country club, anti-populist wing of the GOP and is not going anywhere. This is not a fluid group of voters, and they are locked in to their support for Romney (and probably make up a significant portion of the 30 percent of voters who say they are committed to their candidate in the Marist poll.
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The Marist poll could foreshadow a Gingrich surge at the expense of Cain’s support – 28 percent of voters who identify with the Tea Party support Gingrich over 22 percent for Cain. This is a rather significant reversal of fortunes for Cain who had solid Tea Party support until recently. CBS confirms this trend with 21 percent of Tea Partiers preferring Gingrich to 19 percent for Cain. Last month, CBS measured 32 percent of Tea Party voters supporting Cain with only 15 percent for Gingrich.
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