A newly released Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey of “usual Republican primary voters” in Ohio shows that Herman Cain is still leading — and by a fairly wide margin. Perhaps the survey’s most eye-catching result, however, is that Newt Gingrich has now moved into 2nd place in the Buckeye State.
The poll shows Cain with 34 percent support, Gingrich with 20 percent support, and Mitt Romney with 19 percent support. No other candidate has more than 5 percent support. (The poll was taken before last night’s debate.)
PPP also released another new survey, showing that Gingrich has moved into 1st place in Mississippi. There, Gingrich has 28 percent support, Cain 25 percent, Rick Perry 14 percent, and Romney 12 percent (with no more than 5 percent support for any other candidate).
Net favorability ratings in the two polls show that Cain and Gingrich are by far the most favorably regarded candidates among GOP voters. In Ohio, Cain has the highest net favorability rating (+44 percent), followed by Gingrich (+38 percent), Bachmann (+20 percent), Romney (+10 percent), Perry (-8 percent), and Ron Paul (-13 percent). In Mississippi, Cain narrowly edges Gingrich (+42 percent for Cain, +41 percent for Gingrich), followed by Bachmann (+15 percent), Perry (+14 percent), Romney (-4 percent), and Paul (-15 percent). (PPP didn’t provide favorability ratings for Jon Huntsman or Rick Santorum.)
If Perry’s debate woes or Cain’s ongoing challenges cause support for either or both candidates to diminish, PPP’s results suggest that Gingrich likely stands a better chance of benefitting than Romney does. When Ohio respondents were asked to name their 2nd-choice candidate, 19 percent named Gingrich, compared to 13 percent for Romney. When Mississippi respondents were asked the same question, 15 percent said Gingrich to 10 percent for Romney.
Among the candidates who are currently languishing in the second division, the surveys suggest that Michele Bachmann has the most potential to move up. Bachmann (who has 4 percent support in Ohio and 5 percent support in Mississippi) fared far better than Paul, Huntsman, or Santorum, when respondents were asked to name their 2nd-choice candidate. In both Ohio and Mississippi, she was named as the 2nd-choice candidate by 9 percent of respondents. (No one was named by 20 percent in either state, while Paul, Huntsman, and Santorum didn’t surpassed 5 percent in either state). This, coupled with her relatively strong performance in last night’s debate, offers some evidence that Bachmann could potentially return to the first division if other candidates falter.