GOP horserace: Bunching around the first turn

Rep. Haley Barbour (R-Miss.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Gov. Martin O'Malley (D-MD) analyze with Bob Schieffer the republican presidential candidate's foreign policy outlined in the CBS News/National Journal debate and who came out ahead after a controversial week of politics. PAUL J. RICHARDS

Republician presidential hopefuls, from left to right, Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum participate in the CBS News/National Journal Debate at Wofford College Nov. 12, 2011, in Spartanburg, S.C.
Republican presidential hopefuls at the CBS News/National Journal Debate, from left to right: Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum.
AFP/Getty Images
With the 2012 Iowa Republican caucuses on tap for Jan. 3, the GOP horserace is getting into full stride, with candidates jostling for position on the turn as the grueling season of debates wears on. 

For Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry, the CBS News/National Journal GOP debate Sunday on national security and foreign policy was a chance to reverse the growing perception that Mitt Romney has a lock on the nomination. 

According to the CNN/ORC poll, which surveyed voters Nov. 11 - Nov. 13, Romney and Gringrich are now leading the race to the nomination. The former House speaker had a big bounce upward in the polls, going from 8 percent in early October to 22 percent this week, while Perry remained in the back of the pack. 

Cain dropped from 25 percent to 14 percent in the last 30 days, due to the ongoing sexual harassment claim saga and his lack of mastery of foreign policy issues. Romney, who so far has been deemed most likely GOP candidate to beat President Obama in 2012, dropped a few percentage points to 24 percent month-over-month, but leads in this poll over the last month.

CNN/ORC International Poll released Nov. 14, 2011. The margin error for the CNN/ORC poll is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

A CBS News poll taken several days priorto the CBS News/National Journal debate, showed Cain is in the lead at 18 percent, followed by Romney and Gingrich with 15 percent each, with Gingrich among the three picking up steam. The margin of error for the sample of Republican primary voters could be 5 percentage points. However, seven in 10 Republican primary voters in the CBS News poll said it was too soon to declare which candidate they would support.

This poll was conducted by telephone from November 6-10, 2011. The margin of error could be five points for the sample of Republican primary voters
CBS News

State polling in Iowa among potential Republican voters, surveyed between Nov. 10 - Nov. 12, shows Cain leading by a thin margin. A Bloomberg News poll of Iowans likely to attend the Jan. 3 Republican presidential caucuses, had Cain as the frontrunner with 20 percent, followed by Paul at 19 percent, Romney at 18 percent and Gingrich at 17 percent.   

If the Republican caucuses were today, and the following candidates were running, which one would be your first choice for president? The poll was conducted Nov. 10 - Nov. 12. Percentages based on questions asked of the 503 likely Republican caucus-goers may have a maximum margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
Bloomberg News

While Cain, Paul, Romney and Gingrich are bunched up in this poll, 60 percent of those surveyed indicated that they could switch candidates and 10 percent were undecided.

The oddsmakers are betting heavily on Romney. Intrade gives the former Massachusetts governor a 69.9 percent chance of taking the nomination. But the race is just rounding the first turn, and a lot can happen between now and the finish line.

  • Dan Farber On Twitter»

    Dan has more than 20 years of journalism experience. He has served as editor in chief of CBSNews.com, CNET News, ZDNet, PC Week, and MacWeek.

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