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.
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.
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.
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).
In hypothetical matchups against his Republican rivals, President Obama’s support remains below 50 percent.
In the new poll Romney narrowly edges Obama by 2 percentage points. In September the results were reversed, with Obama up by 3 points. Both leads are within the polls’ margins of sampling error.
Obama bests Gingrich (by 5 points) and Cain (by 9 points) by single digits. In June, the last time the Obama-Gingrich matchup was asked, the president’s lead was 19 points.
Among independents, Romney’s advantage over Obama increases to 13 points. Obama has a small advantage over Cain (by 6 points) and Gingrich (by 4 points).
Meanwhile, 9 percent of Obama voters “regret” their vote in the 2008 election, and 13 percent say they would back Romney over Obama if the election were held today.
The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 914 randomly-chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from November 13 to November 15. For the total sample, it has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. For the subgroup of 370 GOP primary voters it is plus or minus 5 percentage points.