During the past three weeks, the Republican presidential candidates have been involved in their most contentious debate — which included their most substantial exchange on health care — and Herman Cain has struggled on two fronts (explaining his position on abortion and responding to claims of impropriety). Now, the latest Rasmussen poll of likely Republican voters shows that, over that 3-week span, Newt Gingrich has gained the most ground, while Mitt Romney has lost the most ground.
On October 12th, shortly before the most recent debate, Rasmussen showed Gingrich trailing Romney by 19 percentage points (29 to 10 percent). That gap has now closed to 9 points (23 to 14 percent).
While Romney’s support fell 6 points over that span, several other GOP candidates also lost ground: Support for Cain fell 3 points (from 29 to 26 percent), support for Michele Bachmann fell 2 points (from 4 to 2 percent), and support for Rick Perry and Rick Santorum fell 1 point apiece (to 8 and 1 percent, respectively). Meanwhile, support for Gingrich rose 4 points (from 10 to 14 percent), and support for Ron Paul rose 2 points (from 5 to 7 percent).
At the same time, the number of likely Republican voters who declined to express support for any candidate in the current field — they’re either “not sure” which candidate they support or else want “some other candidate” — rose 6 points (from 7 to 13 percent). As a result, it’s now the case that — for the first time since the summer — Rasmussen shows that no two Republican presidential candidates combine for even 50 percent support among likely GOP voters.