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Rick Perry’s stumbles are Herman Cain’s gain

Herman Cain, the businessman who has never held elected office, has broken into the top tier of Republican presidential candidates in a new poll, running neck-and-neck with Texas Gov. Rick Perry while Mitt Romney has regained his status as the clear front-runner in the race.

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll found Cain and Perry tied with 16% support among Republican-leaning Americans. Romney leads the field with 25% support.

It’s the second time in as many weeks that support for Cain has risen at Perry’s expense.

The same poll had Perry with 29% support in September, and Cain with just 4%. Last month, Cain stunned Perry in a Florida straw poll where he roundly beat the Texas governor with 37% of the vote. Perry landed a distant second place with 15%.

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Speaking on Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends” on Tuesday, Cain said the poll, “substantiates what happened in Florida.”

“That is great news that says the flavor of the week might have some substance,” he said. “Black walnut isn’t a flavor of the week.”

Perry’s lackluster debate performance in Florida recently could be at least partly to blame: 63% of those who watched the debate said they like Perry less.

Another poll of likely voters in Florida conducted by the Gainesville, Fla., firm War Room Logistics found that Perry’s support fell to 9% after the Florida debate, while Cain’s support surged to 24%. In an earlier poll taken before the debate, Perry had been tied with Romney at about 25%, according to the St. Petersburg Times. Romney’s support increased to 28% after the debate.

Cain’s surge comes at a time when Perry appears to have alienated key demographics, including conservative Republicans and supporters of the “tea party” movement. Perry’s support from those groups fell considerably while their support for Cain rose, according to the ABC News/Washington Post poll.

Also in that poll, 47% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said the more they hear about Cain, the more they like him. Nearly as many – 44% -- said the more they hear about Perry, the less they like him.

The numbers are even worse for Perry among those who’ve been closely watching the race. Cain is supported by 36% of this group, followed by Romney, with 24% and Perry, with 12%.


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