With Gov. Chris Christie out of the Republican presidential race, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney jumps to a 22 percent lead, followed by businessman Herman Cain with 17 percent and Texas Gov. Rick Perry with 14 percent – a 10-point drop in five weeks, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released Wednesday.
The findings compare to an Aug. 31 survey that showed Perry at 24 percent, followed by Romney at 18 percent, with Cain in sixth place with 5 percent.
With Christie in the race, he and Romney were tied among Republicans and Republican leaners at 17 percent each, followed by 12 percent for Cain, and 10 percent for Perry. No other candidate polled above 7 percent.
“This survey shows Governor Christie is walking away from the possibility – at least today – to be elected president of the United States,” Peter Brown, the poll‘s assistant director, said. ‘Whether he would have won the GOP nomination or the election will never be known, but the data indicate he had a serious chance to win it all.”
The poll found that in a possible 2012 general election matchups: Romney has a slight 46 to 42 percent lead over Obama but the president leads Perry 45 to 44 percent.
American voters say 54 to 42 percent that Obama does not deserve a second term, little changed from Aug. 31, when voters said he did not deserve a second term 51 to 42 percent.
“After seeing his lead disappear with the entrance of Rick Perry into the race, Mitt Romney has regained his position out front as the Texas governor’s fortunes have fallen,” Brown said. “The GOP race, however, remains quite open, especially with Gov. Christopher Christie’s decision to remain on the sidelines.
“A big question now is whether Herman Cain is a serious candidate for the nomination,” Brown said. “He has zoomed into second place ahead of Perry. Once the attention shifts from the still-born Christie candidacy, it is likely to focus on Cain, his background and proposals.”
“That will determine whether his candidacy is the real deal or one that rises and falls once attention focuses on him, as happened to Minnesota U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann,” Brown said.
“Gov. Rick Perry, whose numbers have dropped following three debate appearances and a disappointing finish in the Florida straw poll, has gone from front-runner to third place as Herman Cain roars past him – at least for the moment,” Brown said. “With Christie out of the race, Romney has some breathing room. Let’s see if the emerging Herman Cain has staying power.”