Mitt Romney brags to Rick Perry that he's in second place while Herman Cain
continues to smoke the field with his 9-9-9 plan (Adam Hunger/Reuters)
10/19-24. Republican primary voters. ±5%.
Fundamentally, the current snapshot reflects the exact same situation we've seen for several months now: Mitt Romney is the persistent runner-up and the flavor of the month sits atop the field. But while the full poll won't be released until today at 6:30PM ET, its key finding as it relates to the GOP primary race is probably this:
With the nation’s first nominating contests just two months away, a large majority of Republican primary voters have yet to make up their minds about the candidate they would like to see as their party’s nominee for president in 2012.
About eight in 10 Republican primary voters say it is still too early to tell whom they will support, and just four in 10 say they have been paying a lot of attention to the 2012 presidential campaign, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
So while this snapshot does tell us about the latest trends, you need to keep in mind that things will change, and dramatically, in the final days and weeks. Moreover, this is a national poll, and there is no national primary or caucus.
It's not just national-level polling that is subject to wild swings, by the way. For some perspective on just how much can change, take a look at Pollster.com's poll tracking for the 2008 GOP primary in South Carolina:
John McCain, who was polling in fifth place just a few weeks before the primary, ended up narrowly beating Mike Huckabee, taking 33% of the vote. You don't see that kind of movement very often in general elections, where a combination of voter disinterest and baked in partisanship dramatically narrows the playing field, but in primary campaigns, it's not just common, it's the norm.