(Gingrich photo: Chris Keane/Reuters)
Newt Gingrich: 26 (10)
Mitt Romney: 22 (23)
Herman Cain: 14 (30)
Michele Bachmann: 7 (4)
Ron Paul: 6 (7)
Rick Perry: 6 (8)
Jon Huntsman: 2 (2)
Rick Santorum: - (1)
Okay, since there's nothing really new with this storyline (Newt up, Cain down, Mitt flat, everybody else underwater), here's what jumped out at me: Michele Bachmann has surged into fourth place ... and Rick Santorum has managed to fall below Jon Huntsman. Of course, that only jumped out at me because it's fun to imagine a Bachmann surge. Unfortunately, with her support still at just 7%, my imagination is still all I have.
On a more serious note, take a look at these head-to-head matchups:
Newt Gingrich: 49 (no trend)
Mitt Romney: 39 (no trend)
Mitt Romney: 50 (39)
Herman Cain: 37 (47)
Back in early October, Quinnipiac tested a Romney-Perry matchup, and Romney came out on top, 48%-34%. That basically mirrors his current lead over Herman Cain. However at the beginning of the month, Cain actually led Romney. And Gingrich now leads Romney by essentially the same margin as did Cain.
These numbers are a reminder that while Romney faces a polling ceiling of about 20% in a multiway field, he's not only capable of getting much more support in a head-to-head matchup, he's also capable of winning one. That's the good news for him.
The bad news is that even in head-to-head matchups, the "Not Romney" pattern continues. So while Romney can take some satisfaction in the fact that he went from trailing Cain by eight points in to leading him by 13 in the span of just three weeks, another candidate came along (Gingrich) to fill Cain's place. Even if Romney is able to dispense with Gingrich the way he dispensed with Cain, the question is whether another candidate will come along to fill the Not Romney role.
In addition to the 2012 primary poll, Quinnipiac also tested Cain, Romney, and Gingrich against President Obama with the general public. President Obama led all three candidates, topping Romney by a 45%-44% margin, Gingrich by a 49%-40% margin, and Cain by a 50%-37% margin.