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A new Public Policy Polling survey has Newt Gingrich as the national frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination.

The poll has Gingrich leading the field at 28 percent, with Herman Cain in second place at 25 percent and Mitt Romney in third with 18 percent. Rick Perry registered a distant fourth place with only 6 percent, showing that the gap between the contenders and the also-rans is growing.

Gingrich has made a remarkable comeback from June, when his favorability among Republican voters fell to 36 percent in the wake of the mass resignation of his top campaign aides. His favorability has now rebounded 68 percent. Furthermore, it seems that Gingrich’s numbers could keep climbing if Herman Cain continues to struggle to shake off the sexual harassment allegations against him:

There’s reason to think that if Cain continues to fade, Gingrich will continue to gain. Among Cain’s supporters 73% have a favorable opinion of Gingrich to only 21% with a negative one. That compares to a 33/55 spread for Romney with Cain voters and a 32/53 one for Perry. They like Gingrich a whole lot more than they do the other serious candidates in the race.

Cain’s base of strength continues to be with Tea Party voters, where he gets 33% to 31% for Gingrich, and only 11% for Romney. This is where you can really see that Gingrich will be the beneficiary if Cain continues to implode- Gingrich’s favorability with Tea Partiers is 81/14. Romney’s is 43/45. There’s a lot of room for Gingrich to build up support with that key group of Republican voters.

That said, it is still too soon to call Gingrich the true frontrunner. In the past few months Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain have all had brief runs at the top of the polls. All three fell from grace once voters and the media began examining their records more closely.

Gingrich has been able to slide under the radar for the past few months, but now that he is at the top of the polls there will be a new round of scrutiny about his past scandals and his controversial tenure as speaker of the House. Gingrich may be polling strongly now, but whether he can stay there longer than his rivals remains to be seen.

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