Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fox News Poll: Gingrich and Romney Top GOP Nominee Picks By Dana Blanton

November 16, 2011

Newt Gingrich has catapulted to the front of the race for the 2012 Republican nomination while Herman Cain has lost ground with GOP primary voters. Mitt Romney, once again, is holding steady.

A Fox News poll released Wednesday shows Gingrich’s support doubling in the last three weeks. He stood at 12 percent in late October -- before the Cain harassment allegations and Rick Perry’s “oops” debate. Now the former House speaker is at 23 percent, essentially tied for the lead with Romney, with 22 percent.

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Romney has been either the frontrunner or in second place in every Fox poll since July. He’s received the backing of between 20-26 percent of GOP primary voters for the last five months.

Cain garners 15 percent. That’s down from 24 percent last month, and slightly below his late-September standing of 17 percent.

Click here to see the full results of the poll

Ron Paul receives the backing of 8 percent, edging out Perry at 7 percent. This is the first time Perry has been in single digits in Fox polling.

Among GOP primary voters who are part of the Tea Party movement, Gingrich is the top pick (35 percent), followed by Cain (20 percent). Romney (15 percent) comes in third -- receiving less than half Gingrich’s support among this group.

The poll suggests this may be only the latest re-shuffling of the Republican deck. Most GOP primary voters say they may change their mind (60 percent). That includes just over half of Gingrich and Cain supporters, and almost 7 in 10 Romney supporters.

Candidate Qualities

GOP primary voters see Romney (26 percent) and Cain (25 percent) as the most likeable Republican contenders. They view Paul (15 percent) and Bachmann (12 percent) as the least likeable. Cain ties with Bachmann as the second least likeable (12 percent), putting him in the unique position of making the top three in both likeable and unlikeable groups.

When asked who they would trust most with nuclear weapons, nearly twice as many primary voters say Gingrich than Romney (30 percent and 17 percent respectively). Those voters would least trust Paul (13 percent), Bachmann (11 percent) and Cain (10 percent) with nukes.

What about electability? GOP primary voters overwhelmingly see Romney as the Republican with the best chance of beating Barack Obama in the general election. Thirty-seven percent of primary voters think Romney is the most electable candidate. That’s double the number that says Gingrich (18 percent) and Cain (17 percent). Three percent of GOP primary voters think none of the Republicans can beat Obama.

Even though about a third of voters say presidential debates are a waste of time, a majority thinks they are a good way to get to know the candidates (35-56 percent). And what have voters learned about the key attributes of integrity and experience?

Romney is the only Republican candidate a majority of registered voters thinks has the integrity to serve effectively as president (55 percent “yes”). Nearly half think Gingrich does (45 percent “yes”). Just over one third says Cain (36 percent “yes”) and Perry (35 percent “yes”) have the integrity to serve.

When asked about experience to serve as president, equal majorities say Romney (59 percent) and Gingrich (58 percent) have it. Compare that with about one in three saying Cain (31 percent) and Perry (35 percent) have the right experience.

Among Republicans, the assessments are more positive. Majorities think Romney (72 percent), Gingrich (70 percent), Cain (59 percent) and Perry (56 percent) have the integrity to serve. And three-quarters of GOPers think Gingrich (79 percent) and Romney (76 percent) have the right experience, while about half say the same of Perry (53 percent) and Cain (47 percent).

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