For those wondering where the Republican presidential field might be headed in the aftermath of Chris Christie’s decision to stay on the sidelines, Gallup has released its new net favorability ratings — and they bode well for Herman Cain. The poll was taken over the 2-week period from September 19 through October 2 — so mostly (but not entirely) after the most recent GOP debate (which was on September 22).

Gallup asked Republicans and Republican-leaning independents whether they have “favorable” or “unfavorable” opinions (and whether those opinions are “strongly” held or not) of each of the eight principal members of the GOP field, and of two prominent potential entrants who are reportedly still considering running. Respondents only appraised those whose names they recognized, but aside from Jon Huntsman (at 43 percent), every candidate or potential candidate’s name-recognition is over 50 percent — ranging from Rick Santorum at 54 percent and Cain at 55 percent, to Rudy Giuliani at 88 percent and Sarah Palin at 96 percent (it would be interesting to meet the other 4 percent).

Here are Gallup’s net favorability ratings, in order:

1. Herman Cain, +61 percent (75 percent favorable to 14 percent unfavorable)

2. Rudy Giuliani, +58 percent (76 to 18 percent)

3. Mitt Romney, +53 percent (72 to 19 percent)

4. Rick Perry, +47 percent (68 to 21 percent)

5. Sarah Palin, +39 percent (68 to 29 percent)

6. Rick Santorum, +38 percent (61 to 23 percent)

7. Newt Gingrich, +33 percent (63 to 30 percent)

8. Michele Bachmann, +28 percent (59 to 31 percent)

9. Ron Paul, +23 percent (56 to 33 percent)

10. Jon Huntsman, +19 percent (50 to 31 percent)

With Perry dropping (he was at +54 percent in the last poll, and even his +47 percent in the current poll partly covers the period before the last debate, when he was still the GOP frontrunner), the most popular people on this list with Republican voters clearly appear to be Cain, Giuliani, and Romney — and by a noticeable margin. It’s no wonder, then, that Romney is leading in most polls and that the lesser-known Cain is gaining fast — and it will be interesting to see whether Giuliani might soon join the fray.

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