EPSOM, N.H.--Newly ascendant in recent national polls, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on Friday declared it a “wide open” race from now until the voting begins in January.
The former House speaker was reacting to a new CBS News poll that shows him in a statistical tie for first place with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former pizza-chain executive Herman Cain. Cain led the field with 18 percent of GOP primary voters, 3 points ahead of Romney and Gingrich at 15 percent each. Cain’s modest lead is well within the poll’s margin of error of +/- 5 percent.
It was the first national poll to place Gingrich in the top tier of candidates for the GOP presidential nomination, although other recent polls have tracked a slow, upward progression for the Georgian.
“The real meaning of the poll is when the front-runner is at 18 and the next two are tied at 15, it is a wide open race,” Gingrich said at morning campaign stop. “I think that the American people are looking at some questions thinking about it, and I think it will stay wide open until January.”
While the poll showed Gingrich moving up, it represents a decline in Cain’s support from the previous poll, conducted late last month, when the former Godfather's Pizza CEO was at 25 percent. Support for Romney has also slipped slightly, dropping 6 points from last month.