A new poll (pdf) for ABC by Langer Research Associates shows Rick Perry taking a hit, and Mitt Romney taking a lead, and Herman Cain taking hearts.
1. Mitt Romney 25%
2. Rick Perry and Herman Cain 16%
4. Ron Paul 11%
5. Michele Bachmann 7%
6. Newt Gingrich 7%
7. Rick Santorum 2%
8. Jon Huntsman 1%
a. Perry's fall.
He's fallen 13% in one month, thanks to a 35% drop in seniors, 35% drop among strong supporters of the tea party and 27% among very conservative Republicans.
The question is why? Obviously, Romney has hit Perry hard on Social Security, which might account for his fall with seniors.
More important is Perry's big fade with tea partiers and the "very conservative". He's been hammered in the past month on immigration and HPV, and that seems to be doing damage. I'd be curious to see whether Romney's immigration attacks have landed, or whether Perry would've sustained damage via Santorum, Bachmann, and the media's hits on immigration. In other words, did Romney have to go negative for Perry to fade?
Regardless, Perry is yet another contender who's zig-zagged in polls, while Romney remains stable (his 25% support is identical to his 25% last month).
b. Cain scoops up Perry supporters.
He's picked up 25% among strong supporters of the tea party and 16% among "very conservative" Republicans in the past month.
Now here's the million dollar question: Can those numbers hold up, and if not where do Cain supporters go? Do they head back to Perry, or are they turned off irrevocably?
I think Perry wins these voters back in a head-to-head with Romney or even in a situation where Cain sustains damage and fades a bit.
c. Cain is the great debater.
I've watched every debate, save for one, and continue to be surprised by how well-received Cain is after these things. To me, he doesn't show much substance, isn't horribly charismatic, and seems less prepared for the job than everyone else on stage, including Santorum and Huntsman. But obviously, I'm not seeing the same things others are, and that's okay. I like Jerry Lewis much better than Jerry Lee Lewis.
But Cain's tied with Romney among Republicans who've watched the debates, and the more people watch him in debates, the more they like him, 70%-12%.
d. Who wears well?
These are some very important numbers, since voters' attentions will continually increase.
30% of people like Perry the more they hear about him, but 44% like him worse.
35% of people like Palin the more they hear about her, but 49% like her worse, which belies all Palin's fans' assurances that the more people hear about her, the more they'll like her.
Now to the positive side of the group.
By 3%, the more people hear about Romney the more they like him.
By 20% the more people hear about Christie, the more they like him. That surprises me, but only because most have just seen him on Youtube, and who wouldn't like him on Youtube? This indicates that he could be more than The Youtube Candidate.
Finally, by 29% the more people hear about Cain, the more they like him. Again, Easter Island and this keep me up at night. But obviously, like St. Francis of Assisi and Richard Marx, I'm just one man.