Poll: Romney leads, Gingrich surges in GOP race

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WASHINGTON - Mitt Romney has a growing lead in the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, and almost half of the party's voters expect him to be the nominee, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.

Republican presidential candidates former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich, right, speaks as former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney listens during a South Carolina Republican party presidential debate in Spartanburg, South Carolina November 12, 2011.   Reuters
Reuters
Republican presidential candidates former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich, right, speaks as former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney listens during a South Carolina Republican party presidential debate in Spartanburg, South Carolina November 12, 2011.

Twenty-eight percent of Republicans backed the former Massachusetts governor, giving him a lead of 8 percentage points over his nearest challenger Herman Cain in the poll, taken Nov. 10-11.

Romney was 5 percentage points ahead in a survey Nov. 7-8.

Newt Gingrich, the U.S. House of Representatives speaker in the mid-1990s, solidified a recent rise among conservatives seeking an alternative to the more moderate Romney, coming in third place in the current poll with 16 percent.

Gingrich, who is seen as having performed well in recent debates, was viewed as the second-most ''presidential'' of the Republican hopefuls, according to the poll.

Whether or not they support him, almost half of the Republicans surveyed expect Romney to become the nominee to oppose President Barack Obama, a Democrat, in the November 2012 election.

Romney, who also ran for president in 2008, has been in first or second place in polls for months and enjoys by far the most campaign funds of the Republican field.

But some in his party see him as too liberal, and he has so far failed to significantly boost his level of support in polls. The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll, however, shows he is benefiting from missteps by his rivals.

''As the other candidates falter, his image comes into relief,'' Ipsos pollster Cliff Young said.

The campaign of former pizza executive Cain has been dogged by allegations that he sexually harassed four women in the late 1990s. He has denied the allegations.

Texas Governor Rick Perry was in fourth place with 12 percent in the latest poll, which was taken on the heels of his disastrous performance in a debate on Wednesday when he could not remember key details of one of his main policy proposals.

He had 10 percent in the Nov. 7-8 poll.

When judged on his personal qualities, Romney was rated strongly by Republicans, while both Perry and Cain trailed in important categories.

Romney, the former head of the Bain Capital private equity firm, says his business experience gives him an advantage over other Republicans and Obama in the quest to create jobs for the sluggish U.S. economy.

Far more voters see Romney as presidential than those who feel the same way about his Republican rivals, with 34 percent in the poll saying he is the most presidential candidate in the field.

''Going into the primaries, he's in a strong position and his image is solidifying around a very important attribute, which is being presidential, or being seen as presidential,'' Young said.

GINGRICH CHALLENGE

Gingrich, whose campaign is gaining momentum after struggling with staff desertions in the summer, was seen as the second most presidential candidate with 19 percent, 1 percentage point ahead of Cain. Perry trailed at 11 percent.

Gingrich, keeping to his form in previous debates, attacked Obama instead of the other Republican candidates at a debate devoted to foreign policy Saturday in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

''There are a number of ways to be smart about Iran and relatively few ways to be dumb and the administration has skipped all the ways to be smart,'' Gingrich said, advocating covert operations to stop Tehran from making a nuclear bomb.

Perry's debate blunder last Wednesday, when he struggled to name the third of three government departments he would eliminate as president, has damaged his campaign but he remains in contention, the poll shows.

When shown the video of Perry's gaffe Wednesday, 31 percent of poll respondents said he should withdraw from the campaign while just over half said he should stay in.

Romney was picked first when the Republicans were asked who would be ''a strong leader for America,'' at 28 percent, with Cain following at 21 percent. Gingrich was at 20 percent and Perry trailed at 12 percent.

Although portrayed by both Democrats and Republicans as someone who changes his stance for political purposes, Romney fared better than Cain and Perry when respondents were asked which candidate ''will say anything to win votes.''

Twenty-one percent chose Cain, 20 percent pointed to Perry, Romney was at 19 and Gingrich came in at 8 percent.

When asked which candidates were ''too radical to lead America,'' the Republicans in the poll put Cain at the head of all the candidates with 21 percent and Romney last at 8 percent. Gingrich had 12 percent and Perry was at 11 percent.

Cain and Romney tied at 24 percent when the voters were asked who has the best solutions for U.S. economic problems, with Gingrich at 15 percent and Perry at 12 percent.

When asked who ''understands the problems of someone like me,'' the Republican voters failed to give any candidate more than 25 percent support. Cain was highest at 25 percent, to Romney's 16 percent, 15 percent for Perry and 14 percent for Gingrich.

The poll results are from an online survey of 461 Republican registered voters.

Because this was an online poll, typical margins of error do not apply. Despite that, various recognized methods were used to provide a representative sample and weighted results. If this were a traditional random survey, it would have a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

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augusta citizen
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augusta citizen 11/14/11 - 03:56 pm
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No surprise here, Newt's

No surprise here, Newt's knowledge and experience have shown very much in the debates. I think some people only knew about the negative headlines from the past and not much else about him, especially younger voters. Of course that isn't surprising since that's all the media wants them to know.

burninater
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burninater 11/14/11 - 04:22 pm
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Newt's knowledge and

Newt's knowledge and experience is exactly his problem, AC ... He represents the old school, individual mandate (he was for it before he was against it) Republicanism that the Tea Party has risen up against. The base's neglect of Huntsman and Paul in favor of goofballs and cronies (I'll let you decide for yourself what label applies to whom) makes a lot of independent voters wary of the party's ability to recognize and confront real and complex challenges. I think the front-runners to date really altered people's perception of how far from caring about competent governance the Right's base has swung, and had real effects on last weeks state-level election results.

macktaylor
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macktaylor 11/14/11 - 04:22 pm
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I hope Newt continues to

I hope Newt continues to surge. To anybody that thinks Romney is a conservative I have some ocean front property in augusta.

bjphysics
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bjphysics 11/14/11 - 04:32 pm
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Flavor of the week.

Flavor of the week.

dstewartsr
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dstewartsr 11/14/11 - 05:11 pm
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"Flavor of the week." And

"Flavor of the week."

And target of next week's media attacks.

Brad Owens
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Brad Owens 11/14/11 - 06:45 pm
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Newt would be the best

Newt would be the best President in the GOP field.

He has the most experience in government and is by far the most educated and intelligent.

His issues have depth and he would not "soundbite" a problem.

I would love to see Newt and Obama in a debate.

Brad

augusta citizen
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augusta citizen 11/14/11 - 07:23 pm
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Brad sez, "I would love to

Brad sez, "I would love to see Newt and Obama in a debate." Me too, now that would be priceless!

allhans
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allhans 11/14/11 - 08:23 pm
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The Democrats have begun the

The Democrats have begun the attacks on Romney. They know that he is the biggest threat to Obama and their own jobs and are going with barrels loaded.

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