Newt Gingrich's momentum in the Republican Presidential race is just continuing to grow as Herman Cain's support fades away. Gingrich leads the GOP field in both Pennsylvania and Arizona.
In Pennsylvania Gingrich has 32% to 15% for Cain, 12% for Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, 9% for Ron Paul, 5% for Michele Bachmann, 3% for Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman, and 0% for Gary Johnson.
In Arizona Gingrich has 28% to 23% for Romney, 17% for Cain, 8% for Paul, 5% for Huntsman, 3% for Bachmann, Perry, and Santorum, and 0% for Gary Johnson.
Gingrich's leads are a result of Cain's support finally starting to really fall apart. For an 8 week period from the end of September through last week Cain was over 20% in every single poll we did at the state or national level. Over that period of time we also repeatedly found that Gingrich was the second choice of Cain voters. Now that Cain has slipped below that 20% threshold of support he had consistently held, Gingrich is proving to be the beneficiary.
One thing that's striking in looking at Gingrich's numbers in both of these states is that he leads among both Republicans who identify with the Tea Party and those who don't. In Pennsylvania he's up 40-2o-8 on Cain and Romney with Tea Partiers but he's also up 28-14-13 with the rest. And in Arizona he's up 33-18 on Romney with Tea Partiers and 26-25 with Republicans who don't identify that way.
The Arizona and Pennsylvania numbers are more evidence that even with one competitor of his after another collapsing, Romney is just not showing the ability to make a surge. When we last polled Pennsylvania in July he was at 17%, so his 12% now actually represents a decline in support. And in Arizona his 23% now is basically identical to the 24% we found for him when we polled the state in May.
There is one piece of good news for Romney though- in Pennsylvania he's the second choice of 26% of Gingrich supporters to 21% for Cain with Santorum at 11% and no one else in double digits. In Arizona he and Cain are each the second choice of 30% of Gingrich supporters with Perry at 11% and no one else in double digits. Assuming that Cain continues to fade, Romney will be well positioned if Gingrich does end up imploding the way every other flavor of the month in this race has.
There's reason to think Gingrich could get stronger before he gets weaker though. In Pennsylvania he's the second choice of 49% of Cain voters to 10% for Romney. And in Arizona he's the second choice of 39% of Cain voters to 10% for Romney. If Cain keeps going down, Gingrich is likely to keep going up.
The most striking thing on this poll may be how dreadful Rick Perry's numbers are: he's faded to 3% in both Arizona and Pennsylvania. And the news gets worse for Perry from there- in Pennsylvania only 30% of Republican voters have a positive opinion of him to 49% with a negative one. In Arizona 25% see him favorably to 58% with an unfavorable opinion. Republican voters just flat out don't like him anymore, and he's only the second choice of 7% of voters in each of these states which doesn't suggest a lot of room for growth. It's getting harder and harder to see Perry coming back.
Jon Huntsman, who has been Mr. 1-2% in our polls for months, does better than Perry this weekend with 5% in Arizona and 3% in Pennsylvania. It's not wise to make any sweeping conclusions based on a couple polls, but that's the best we've found him doing all year and it's going to be interesting to see if increased support for him becomes a trend in the coming weeks.
Gingrich is flying high right now- but if there's one thing we've learned with this GOP contest it's that the top is a dangerous place to be.
Full results here