A Washington Post/ABC News poll out Tuesday shows businessman Herman Cain has tied Perry for second place behind front-runner Mitt Romney. Romney is at 25 percent while Cain and Perry each get 16 percent.
But the trajectory is an indicator of the men's fortunes. The Texas governor has fallen 13 percentage points since the last poll, while Cain has risen 12 in the last month.
As for the rest of the pack, Texas Rep. Ron Paul reaches double digits with 11 percent, while former House speaker Newt Gingrich and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann are holding at 7 percent. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is at 2 percent, while former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman is holding at 1 percent.
The telephone poll from Sept. 29-Oct. 2 of 1,002 adults also showed that Perry, who performed poorly in recent debates and whose immigration positions are at odds with most of the GOP base, has seen his support among self-identified Tea Party backers drop from 45 --10 percent in one month -- in September he had a 3 to 1 advantage over any other candidate.
Conservatives who answered the poll also dropped their support for Perry from 39 percent to 19 percent in one month. The Texas governor's debate performances have reverberated on the campaign trail. He's found himself repeatedly answering questions about his support for a policy giving in-state tuition rates to children of illegal immigrants, after being challenged on the debate stage.
Cain, on the other hand, whose strong performance in the debates was followed by a series of big showings in straw polls, has surged from 5 percent to 30 percent among Tea Party backers, taking him to the top of the heap. The charismatic businessman has been pushing his catchy "9-9-9" economic plan, which calls for overhauling the tax code and instituting a 9 percent corporate tax, income tax and national sales tax.
Asked about the poll results, Cain, who appeared on Fox News Tuesday morning, said he hadn't seen the results, but he wasn't totally surprised.
"We hadn't seen that yet, but that is great news. It says that the flavor of the week might have some substance. Black walnut isn't a flavor of the week," said Cain, who was referring to himself, but also his favorite ice cream.
A separate poll out Monday in the state of Florida -- where the turn of fortunes originated following the Fox News/Google debate of Sept. 22 -- also shows a major shift in the balance.
Cain is now running in second place in Florida, surging nearly 19 points since the debate and the Florida Republican Party's Presidency 5 straw poll to 24 percent. Meantime, Perry's support has dropped nearly 16 points to 9 percent, fourth place. Romney's support stays steady, but grew by 3 points to 28 percent.
According to a survey of likely Florida voters conducted by War Room Logistics, a Republican polling firm, and issued by The Miami Herald, Perry had been tied as a Florida front-runner with Romney at about 25 percent on Sept. 20, but now trails Newt Gingrich, who's in the third spot at 10 percent.
According to the poll of 1,331 likely voters taken Sept. 30, Romney remains the best general-election candidate against President Obama. Romney trails Obama 42 percent to 48 percent, the smallest margin for the GOP candidates. Against all the other Republican candidates, Obama earns more than 50 percent.
The War Room Logistics surveys have been unlike any other in Florida because they are based on a sample of likely voters, instead of just registered voters. Around now, it’s more common (and cheaper) to poll registered voters because the campaigns aren’t in full swing and it’s a little tougher to estimate the likely voter population.
However, since the numbers have swung so wildly in just 10 days, it's a safe bet to say this is anyone's game right now.