Last week there was a three way horserace among voters who intend to vote in a Republican presidential primary or caucus next year. This week, in the Economist/YouGov Poll, there is one clear leader: former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is the choice of nearly one in three GOP voters.
Gingrich has jumped eight points in the last week, while former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney remains close to his level of a week ago and businessman Herman Cain has dropped below 20%. All other candidates are in single digits.
The Gingrich climb is fueled by Republican voters who identify with the Tea Party: 43% of them favor Gingrich. But the former Speaker also does well with Republican voters who are not Tea Partiers: he narrowly trails Romney with that group.
Republican voters make clear distinctions between Gingrich and Cain when it comes to the attributes associated with governing.
Nearly the same percentages of GOP voters say each man cares about people like themselves, understands their problems and shares their values. But Gingrich is much more likely than Cain to be perceived as understanding issues, being tough enough to make presidential decisions, and having the qualifications to be President.
Assessments of Cain’s “presidential” qualities have dropped in the last month. In mid-October, 63% believed Cain understood the issues, 68% said he was tough enough to make presidential decisions, and 61% said he had the qualifications necessary to be president. Those declines may have been fueled by poor debate performances. Opinions of Cain may have been slightly affected by the sexual harassment allegations leveled at him by former associates during his time as head of the National Restaurant Association. A month ago, before these allegations were publicized, 65% of GOP voters said Cain shared their values, now 58% do, a drop of seven points.
Photo source: Press Association