With much of the Republican political world abuzz over the rapid rise of former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain in the 2012 primary race, new poll numbers show that he may even be at the head of the GOP pack.

According to the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal numbers released Tuesday, Cain leads former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney by a margin of 27 percent to 23 percent among Republican primary voters.

The poll, taken Oct. 6 to 10 and before the recent debate in which Cain was judged to have turned in a strong performance, showed Texas Gov. Rick Perry in third place at 16 percent. While Cain’s lead over Romney falls within the poll’s margin of error, it represents a dramatic shift in the race in recent weeks. In the same poll just two months ago, Perry led Romney 38 percent to 25 percent, with Cain registering just 5 percent.

However, the new survey found Cain trails Obama 49 percent to 38 percent in a head-to-head matchup, while Obama held a statistically insignificant two-point lead over Romney.

In the most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll released last week, Romney led with 25 percent, while Cain and Perry tied at 16 percent.

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