Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney may be struggling to break free from the pack in some national polls. But he’s doing just fine in a new Christopher Newport University/Richmond Times-Dispatch poll
of likely GOP primary voters in Virginia.
The former Massachusetts governor leads the way in that survey, with 43.8 percent support, followed by businessman Herman Cain with 11.7 percent, Texas Gov. Rick Perry with 10.2 percent, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul with 6.1 percent.
Those results conflict with a Quinnipiac University poll released last week showing Romney and Cain tied with 21 percent support. The difference stems from the fact that the Christopher Newport University poll asked respondents their nomination preferences instead of whom they would vote for today, says Quentin Kidd, a political scientist at the university who designed the poll.
"I'm not tapping into who they say they're going to vote for today, I'm tapping into who they would most like to see nominated," he said, suggesting that respondents see Romney as the candidate with the best chance of taking down President Barack Obama.
Part of Cain's popularity in other polls might stem from respondents’ seeing him as a protest choice in a field they find unattractive, Kidd speculated.
Obama doesn’t fare well in the poll. He trails a generic Republican 46.2 percent to 39.8 percent.
Romney leads Obama in a head-to-head match-up 45.8 percent to 42.3 percent. And Perry leads Obama by a statistically insignificant margin of 43 percent to 42.7 percent.
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