Herman Cain addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference at… (Joe Burbank / Associated…)
A new Fox News poll shows that the state of the Republican race for president is as fluid as ever as the first filing deadlines approach, with Rick Perry's instant front-runner status fading away as Herman Cain makes a sudden leap to the top tier.
Even as some in the party cast about for a new candidate, it's former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney holding steady with about 1 in 4 Republicans saying they'd back him as the party's nominee for the fourth consecutive poll.
At 23% in this survey, conducted from Sept. 25-27, that's good for first place. Perry comes in second at 19%, down from 29% in a poll conducted in late August, just after he entered the race. Cain, the former pizza executive, has jumped from 6% to 17%, placing him third.
And don't look now, but Newt Gingrich has also reached double digits, climbing from 3% to 11%. Michele Bachmann, once the darling of the field, is tied with Rick Santorum at the back of the pack with 3%.
Among the full sample of voters, including Democrats and independents, only 7% say they are very impressed with the field of Republican candidates challenging President Obama, while 31% are somewhat impressed. Thirty percent say they're "not at all impressed," and 28% are "not very impressed."
More voters think that Chris Christie should not run than those who think he should, by a margin of 39-32%.
In general election matchups, Obama leads Romney 45-42%, and Rick Perry 47-39%. But asked for a "best guess" as to whether Obama will be reelected, exactly half think he won't, and 40% think he will.
The survey of 925 registered voters had a margin of error of 3%; the Republican sub-sample of 363 voters had a margin of error of 5%. It was conducted jointly by Democratic pollster Anderson Robbins Research and Republican pollster Shaw & Co. Research.