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NBC/WSJ Poll: Cain Ties Romney, Obama Leads Both But Lags on Other Measures NBC/WSJ Poll: Cain Ties Romney, Obama Leads Both But Lags on Ot...

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The Trail: 2012 Presidential News from the Field / CAMPAIGN 2012

NBC/WSJ Poll: Cain Ties Romney, Obama Leads Both But Lags on Other Measures

(Chet Susslin)

photo of Steven Shepard
November 7, 2011

Herman Cain remains deadlocked with Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted as allegations surfaced that Cain sexually harassed multiple women during his time as head of the National Restaurant Association.

Romney leads the GOP pack with 28 percent of the vote. Cain is just one point back, at 27 percent, within the margin of error for the Republican primary question.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is at 13 percent, up from 8 percent last month. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry are tied for fourth at 10 percent.

 

Perry's decline continues, according to the poll. In August, he was well in front of the pack, with 38 percent. By last month, he had fallen to 16 percent.

In a one-on-one matchup against Romney, it is also a virtual tie: Romney is at 49 percent, and Cain is at 48 percent.

The poll does not include interviews conducted after a fourth woman came forward on Monday to make more specific -- and more serious -- allegations against Cain. But before the new allegations, very few Republican primary voters said they were concerned about voting for Cain based on what they had heard so far about his alleged "sexually suggestive behavior," as the poll's interviewers put it.

Just 8 percent said the allegations concerned them "a great deal," while 5 percent said they had "quite a bit of concern." Fifteen percent described themselves "just a little" concerned, while 54 percent said they had no concern at all. Seventeen percent said they didn't know enough to form an opinion.

Overall, 52 percent of Republican primary voters say they have a positive opinion of Cain, compared to 19 percent who have a negative opinion. His negatives have shot up from last month, when just 6 percent said they had a negative opinion of the former Godfather's Pizza CEO.

Romney retains a net-positive image among GOP primary voters: 46 percent view him positively; 17 percent view him negatively. But just 10 percent say they have a very positive opinion of the former Massachusetts governor, half the percentage that has a very positive view of Cain, even amid the allegations.

Meanwhile, the baseline numbers for President Obama remain perilously low for his reelection prospects. Just 19 percent of Americans think the country is headed in the right direction, compared with 17 percent last month. Only 44 percent of Americans approve of the job Obama is doing as president, while 51 percent disapprove -- identical to a month ago.

Obama is performing slightly better in 2012 matchups this month. Among registered voters, Obama leads Romney, 49 percent to 43 percent, up from a two-point lead last month. Against Cain, Obama leads 53 percent to 38 percent, up from an 11-point advantage in October.

Though he approaches -- or exceeds, depending on his opponent -- the crucial 50-percent mark in those matchups, just 45 percent of voters say they will probably vote for Obama against an unnamed GOP candidate, virtually equal to the 44 percent he received last month but better than the 40 percent he earned in August against a generic Republican.

The poll was conducted Nov. 2-5 by the bipartisan team of Democratic pollster Peter Hart and Republican pollster Bill McInturff. The poll surveyed 1,000 adults, for a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent. There were 821 registered voters; the margin of error among those respondents is +/- 3.4 percent. Of the subsample of registered voters, there were 248 who said they would vote in a Republican primary, the margin of error is +/- 6.2 percent.

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