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CNN poll offers more evidence of a Newt Gingrich comeback

November 14, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli
  • Newt Gingrich shakes hands with Mitt Romney after Saturday's Republican debate in Spartanburg, S.C.
Newt Gingrich shakes hands with Mitt Romney after Saturday's Republican… (Chris Keane / Reuters )

Barely five months after his campaign was left for dead, Newt Gingrich is statistically tied for the lead in the Republican race for president, a new CNN poll shows.

The survey also shows that Herman Cain's standing has begun to slide at last, after having defied political gravity for weeks even as his campaign faced a wave of negative media attention.

Standing still as he seems to do in nearly every public poll is Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor is at 24% among the 480 Republican and Republican-leaning independents surveyed. Now it's Gingrich nipping at his heels with 22%, within a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

That's a 14-point jump for the former House speaker in less than a month, a resurgence that's also showing up in other national polls as well.

Cain is now in third place with 14%, down from 25% last month. Rick Perry, warts and all, held steady at 12% to place fourth.

Gingrich launched his campaign in May, but quickly found trouble on a number of fronts. He was put on the defensive after he seemed to criticize the House Republican plan to radically rework Medicare, and struggled to explain a six-figure credit line at Tiffany & Co.

By early June most of his campaign's inner circle headed for the exits. His fundraising lagged, and his light campaign schedule left many questioning his commitment to the race.

But Gingrich carried on. The series of Republican debates gave him a regular platform for crowd-pleasing attacks on the moderators and media at large. And eventually, the struggles of other candidates in the "anti-Romney" primary earned Gingrich some second and third looks.

Gingrich's campaign is now adding staff, and his fundraising has picked up. During a recent trip to New Hampshire, he credited the nascent renaissance to what he said was an increasingly evident substance gap between him and some of the other hopefuls.

The story of the Republican race has been one of volatility, and that's unlikely to change in the remaining weeks before voters actually vote and caucus. The CNN poll found that 3 in 5 voters might change their mind about what candidate they support.

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