Romney leads, Cain surges to second in new Iowa poll

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney narrowly leads while former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain has surged to second place, according to a new NBC News-Marist poll of Iowa Republicans. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama is slightly ahead of both Romney and Texas Governor Rick Perry among registered Iowa voters.

MSNBC published the questionnaire and full results here. Marc Murray summed up the highlights:

In the Hawkeye State, Romney gets the support of 23 percent of likely Iowa Republican caucus-goers – identified based on interest, chance of voting and past participation – and Cain gets 20 percent.

They are followed by Texas Rep. Ron Paul at 11 percent, while Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann are tied at 10 percent. Sixteen percent are undecided.

Among Tea Party supporters – who make up half of all likely Iowa caucus-goers in the poll – Cain is ahead of Romney, 31 to 15 percent. And among those who “strongly” support the Tea Party, Cain’s lead is a whopping 41 to 7 percent. […]

Just 42 percent of all registered voters in Iowa approve of Obama’s performance as president, and it’s lower in New Hampshire – with his approval rating at just 38 percent.

In hypothetical general-election matchups, Obama leads Romney by three points in Iowa, 43 to 40 percent, and he leads Perry by nine, 46 to 37 percent.

Marist surveyed 2,836 registered Iowa voters between October 3 and 5, producing a low margin of error of plus or minus 1.8 percent for the full sample. That includes devastating results on “right direction” (21 percent) versus “wrong track” (68 percent). It’s shocking that Obama is slightly ahead of two named Republican competitors with those numbers and only 42 percent approval for the president.

The margin of error is higher (plus or minus 5.1 percent) for results from the subsample of 371 likely GOP caucus-goers. For those curious about the second tier, just 4 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers said they supported former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, 2 percent supported former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum. Former Utah Governor John Huntsman and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson each had the support of 1 percent of respondents.

Recent nationwide and Iowa surveys have shown a slide for Bachmann and Perry, but even so, Cain’s resurgence is impressive. He appeared to be gaining ground in Iowa this spring before Bachmann stole his fire with conservatives and tea party supporters. Cain has few staffers working Iowa and has hardly campaigned here since the Ames straw poll in August. I assume he has benefited from his strong performances in televised debates where Perry faltered.

Cain also finished second behind Romney in a new nationwide poll for Bloomberg and the Washington Post, although 29 percent of that survey’s GOP-leaning respondents said they had no opinion on who they wanted to become the Republican presidential nominee. Among those who expressed an opinion, 24 percent favored Romney, 16 percent supported Cain, 13 percent supported Perry and all other candidates were below 10 percent.

After mostly writing off Iowa this spring and summer, Romney may be starting to get the idea he can win this state. Bachmann, Perry and Cain have bounced up and down while Romney’s support has held steady around the low 20s all year. The candidate’s wife, Ann Romney, was here a few days ago campaigning for Cindy Golding in the Iowa Senate district 18 special election. Romney’s campaign announced today that he will campaign in western Iowa on October 20.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is expected to endorse Romney today, a few hours before eight Republican candidates will debate again in New Hampshire. Romney rolled out former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s endorsement shortly before a televised debate in Florida last month.

Any comments about the presidential campaign are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: Christie on Romney:

“I’m here in New Hampshire today for one simple reason: America cannot survive another four years of Barack Obama, and Mitt Romney’s the man we need to lead America, and we need him now,” Christie said. […]

Christie’s endorsement is of tremendous symbolic endorsement for Romney, who’s worked to get the GOP establishment to rally around his candidacy in the week since the New Jersey governor declined to seek the presidency.

The New Jersey governor already went on the attack on Romney’s behalf, too; Christie decried words on Friday from a Texas pastor, speaking in favor of Perry, who called Romney’s Mormon religion a “cult,” and Christie called attacks on Romney’s health care law as governor “intellectually dishonest.”

“These types of religious matters have nothing to do with the quality of somebody’s ability to lead,” Christie said. “I think that any campaign that associates itself with that type of comment is beneath the office of president of the United States, in my view.”

  • Interesting poll.

    Cain decided to wake up.  Regardless of what I think of the guy’s politics, dude is electric on the stump.  Heck, the worst candidate with their stump speech is Romney and that’s funny because he’s done this before.  

    Even Jon Huntsman throws in a compelling story or two and can truly speak on foreign policy, trade and manufacturing with clarity.  

    Why has Rick Perry not hit Romney back on immigration?  His campaign researchers must be asleep because I never recall Romney being a “tough on illegal immigration” type before, maybe some lip service but not much.  Perry should actually read the Massachusetts healthcare statute and come up with a few specifics, it would take ten seconds.  

    • I haven't watched a complete Romney stump speech

      this year, but I think he excels at the 60-second or 90-second response to any question.

      If Cain picks up steam someone will have to explain how ludicrous his 9-9-9 tax proposal is. I think he benefits now from not being taken seriously enough to be attacked by anyone else.

      • Romney/Cain

        You’re right about the parroting of talking points, his stump speech however just seems like “do I really have to do this crap again?, you idiots should know me.”  He already paid people off more than likely to have the map moved up.  Rubio’s comrades are behind him in Florida I do believe, could be wrong.

        I think the other GOP candidates know that Cain can fire up the base for a general election.  This is part of the reason they don’t want to get on his bad side. I think attacking him on 9-9-9 could backfire because the base wants that national sales tax worse than almost anything in this campaign.  They know if they get some sort of national sales tax they will truly be able to starve the beast.

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