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Poll puts Cain ahead of Romney

US Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain spoke at event in Washington, D.C., last week.

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

US Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain spoke at an event in Washington, D.C., last week.

WASHINGTON -- A new poll of GOP voters shows pizza executive Herman Cain has risen to the top of the pack in the race for the Republican nomination for president. Cain edged out Mitt Romney, 27 percent to 23 percent, in the Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey.

The poll once again demonstrates the volatile nature of the 2012 primary campaign. In August, the same poll found voters preferred Texas Governor Rick Perry by a wide margin over the rest of the field. Since then, as Perry’s standing has plunged with weak debate performances, Cain has climbed, the new darling of conservatives still searching for a champion. Romney, who has attempted to position himself as the establishment candidate in the race, has remained stuck at the same 23 percent.

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The new survey was conducted from Oct. 6 to Oct. 10. That was before Tuesday night’s debate at Dartmouth College, where Cain’s positions began to come under more scrutiny.

Real Clear Politics, a website that tracks polls around the country, says this morning that Romney maintains a 2.7 percent lead when all recent national polls are averaged together.

National polls reflect the mood of Republicans across the country, but they don’t necessarily predict the outcome of a primary contest. That is decided on state-by-state victories, and recent polls have shown Romney on top in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Christopher Rowland can be reached at crowland@globe.com and found on Twitter @GlobeRowland.
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