A new poll puts former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in front of Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Herman Cain.
Just last week a CBS News poll found Gingrich and Romney tied at 15 percent for second place in the race for the GOP nomination. Cain was leading the poll with 18 percent approval rating among Republican primary voters.
Now a FOX News poll released Wednesday night shows Gingrich leading his rivals with 23 percent of Republican support; Romney is close behind with 22 percent.
The November poll is a dramatic twist from the October results. In October, Cain surged to the front of the pack with 24 percent support. However, allegations of sexual harassment combined with his recent foreign policy gaffs have left Cain lagging behind with 15 percent GOP support. Gingrich was a distant third place with 12 percent support last month.
The polling reveals that Gingrich’s boost in the polls is the result of growing tea party support. More than a third of tea party respondents (35 percent) favored the former speaker compared to 25 percent of Republicans. Compared to most Republicans, tea party members are also less willing to throw their support to Romney (15 percent compared to 22 percent) in the nominee race.
They also seem to trust Gingrich’s judgment more. When asked, “Which Republican presidential candidate would you trust most with nuclear weapons?” Tea Party members overwhelmingly chose Gingrich (by 54 percent) compared to most Republicans (32 percent).
Multiple tea party leaders have already pledged support for Gingrich. Tea Party Nation President and founder Judson Phillips endorsed Gingrich. He told The Christian Post that Gingrich is the smartest and strongest GOP candidate in the field. South Carolina Tea Party Leader Allen Olsen has also backed Gingrich, telling the National Journal that the seasoned congressman has a “track record of balancing the budget."
Although Gingrich’s support has grown, the majority of conservatives (tea party members included) still believe that Mitt Romney has the best chance of beating Barack Obama in the 2012 race.
Compared to Barack Obama, both Democratic and Republican voters favored voting for Romney, 44 percent to 42 percent. Democratic and Republican voters said they would vote for Obama over Gingrich, 46 percent to 41 percent.
As with the other candidates, opinions are subject to change. Sixty percent of Republicans said they may still change their mind.