Rick Perry slips as Mitt Romney leads and Herman Cain surges in new national poll

Rachel Rose Hartman
The Ticket

Texas Gov. Rick Perry's losses are his competitors' gains in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll (pdf) that shows the recent frontrunner slipping to second place, landing in a tie with tea party candidate Herman Cain, former CEO of Godfather's Pizza.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leads the poll of "leaned Republicans" with 25 percent support--the same percentage he captured in last month's poll. But Perry dropped 13 points since the previous survey, which leaves him tied with Cain at 16 percent. Cain rose 12 points since last month.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie debuts in this month's poll with 11 percent, the same share earned by Texas Rep. Ron Paul. Christie is slated to announce his decision on a presidential bid later today.

Perry's losses appear to be a result of his stumbles on the national scene.

Forty-four percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning-independents say the more they hear about Perry, the less they like him, while 30 percent said that learning more about Perry hasn't adversely affected their support for him.

The ratio of poll respondents who liked Perry less after becoming more familiar with him was even higher among those who watched the recent GOP debates--63 percent of debate-watchers said they liked Perry less after learning about him.

Poll data shows Perry, attacked for calling Social Security a "Ponzi scheme," losing ground among older Americans, tea party supporters and "very conservative" Republicans. Cain has gained ground with tea partiers and conservatives. The poll's sampling error is 4 points for the full sample and 6 points for leaned Republicans.

Cain and Christie stand out as the candidates whom voters say they like more after learning about them. Romney remains evenly split on the question of likability based on exposure--35 percent of respondents reported liking him less based on greater exposure, with 38 percent liking him more. Romney's likability-exposure numbers are essentially unchanged since last month's poll.

President Obama's approval rating slipped to 42 percent in the new poll and 55 percent of Americans surveyed expect the Republican nominee to beat Obama. Just 37 percent of those surveyed said they expect Obama to win.

In head-to-head matchups among Americans surveyed, the president narrowly prevails, albeit within the sampling's margin of error--47 to 46 percent against Romney, 46 to 44 percent against Christie and 49 to 44 percent against Perry. Obama narrowly trails Romney among registered voters.