Romney, Palin lead in new GOP poll, Herman Cain not far behind

Herman Cain, the former chairman and CEO of Godfather's Pizza, speaks in Waukee, Iowa in this March 2011 file photo. Steve Pope/Getty Images

Potential GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain, the former chairman and CEO of Godfather's Pizza, speaks at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition event March 7, 2011 in Waukee, Iowa.
Steve Pope/Getty Images

A new Gallup poll shows that former governors Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin remain the presumed frontrunners in the GOP presidential race, but little-known Herman Cain ties for third.

The potential field of Republican presidential nominees has narrowed in recent weeks, leaving Romney with 17 percent support and Sarah Palin at 15 percent. Republican voters, however, remain largely dissatisfied with their choices -- 22 percent in the poll, conducted May 20-24, said there was no candidate they preferred.

The lack of any strong frontrunner appears to have opened the door for the former CEO of Godfather's Pizza, who has no experience in elected office. Cain is essentially tied for third place in the Gallup poll at 8 percent. Rep. Ron Paul received 10 percent support, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich won 9 percent in the poll, which had a four-point margin of error.

In spite of Cain's lack of name recognition, those who do know him have a good opinion of him, according to Gallup, and the businessman won high marks for his performance in the first GOP debate.

Cain managed to win more support in this poll, albeit within the margin of error, than former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who won just 6 percent, in spite of his relatively aggressive campaigning.

While Romney appears to have relatively tepid support as the frontrunner, the Gallup poll shows he maintains his lead among certain constituencies that could be critical. He leads the field at 19 percent among church-going Republicans, as he does among self-identified conservatives.

The 10 candidates included in the Gallup poll include seven who have officially declared their candidacies or established exploratory committees. It also includes former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and Rep. Michele Bachmann, who have taken steps indicating they'll enter the race, as well as Sarah Palin, whose candidacy is less certain.

Recent signs suggest Palin is moving toward a run, including the upcoming release of a pro-Palin documentary and published reports she has purchased a home in Arizona.

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