A new pair of polls from NBC News and Marist College shows Herman Cain with a slight lead over Mitt Romney in South Carolina and Florida, two key early primary states. MSNBC reports:
In South Carolina, Cain gets the support of 30 percent of likely GOP primary voters — determined by past participation, interest and chance of vote — and Romney gets 26 percent. They’re followed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 9 percent, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 6 percent and Reps. Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul at 5 percent each; 15 percent of likely primary voters are undecided.
Among a broader pool of Republicans in South Carolina, Cain is at 28 percent and Romney is at 27 percent.
In Florida, Cain is at 32 percent among likely voters, Romney at 31 percent, Perry at 8 percent and Paul and Gingrich are at 6 percent; 11 percent say they are undecided.
Among a broader range of Florida Republicans, Romney is at 30 percent and Cain is at 29 percent.
Cain is polling well overall in South Carolina, and according to the RealClearPolitics average, he has a 9.5 point lead among GOP primary voters there. This number may be skewed, though, by a new Insider Advantage poll that gives Cain an unlikely 16-point lead over Romney. (Poll watcher Nate Silver judged Insider Advantage one of the least reliable in his pollster rankings last year.)
The primary race is much closer in Florida, where the RealClearPolitics average shows Romney with a 2-point lead over Cain. Romney has maintained the lead there since taking it back from Rick Perry in late September. Perry's numbers, meanwhile, have plummeted in both states, with his average in Florida now in the single digits.