Today’s top polls…
GOP polls show a very fluid two-man race – A bevy of national and early primary state polls show businessman Herman Cain and Mitt Romney well ahead of other major candidates, but also a Republican electorate that has not fully made up its mind. We picked five key findings from these new polls.
1. Polls from CBS-New York Times and Fox News (pdf) released this week put Cain an inch above Romney in support for the GOP nomination, 25 to 21 percent and 24 to 20 percent, respectively, each within the margin of error.
2. Romney is up over Cain by double digits in New Hampshire (40-13 Romney-Cain) and Florida (30-18) but is much closer in Iowa (24-21 percent) and South Carolina (25-23 percent), according to four polls by CNN/TIME/ORC (pdf) released Wednesday.
3. Fewer than one in five Republican primary voters say their mind is made up in the CBS-NYT poll, while eight in 10 say it’s too early to say for sure, a number that’s little changed since September. In early primary states polled by CNN, no more than a third say they will “definitely support” their current candidate of choice, bottoming out at 23 percent of those in Iowa, the first Caucus state.
4. In CBS fewer than one in five Republican primary voters (18 percent) say they’ll “enthusiastically support” Romney if he wins the Party’s nomination, while more than twice as many (42 percent) say they’ll back him with reservations. By comparison, 32 percent say they will back Herman Cain with enthusiasm should he make it to the general election; 30 percent would support him with reservations.
5. Who could capitalize on Republicans’ lack of commitment to current frontrunners? Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry all hold support in the high single and low double digits in new national polls. Paul earns 12 percent support in Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire. Both Gingrich and Perry are weak in New Hampshire, where Romney dominates with 40 percent support.
Financial and psychological woes for the unemployed – More than six in 10 unemployed Americans report cutting back spending on necessities in the past year and 54 percent say their financial situation is in bad shape, according to a CBS-NYT poll that oversampled unemployed adults. The challenges don’t end there. More than half those who are looking for a job report emotional or mental health issues as a result of their employment situation, and 51 percent have felt embarrassed or ashamed.
Opposition to handguns slides – Barely a quarter (26 percent) of the public says there should be a ban on hand guns, down 15 points since 1991 and the lowest in more than 50 years of Gallup polls. Polls track an even sharper drop in the percentage of Americans favoring stricter gun laws over the past two decades. While 78 percent said laws covering the sale of firearms should be stricter in 1990, that’s dropped to 43 percent this year, similar to polls since 2009.