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After Herman Cain announced on Saturday that he is “suspending” his presidential campaign due to the increasing distractions of sexual accusations, the biggest question that came from it (besides, perhaps, did he do it?) was where his sizable and boisterous crowd of followers would inevitably end up. This election cycle has seemed particularly long and increasingly cutthroat, and the 16% of republicans he can claim as his supporters (this share was realistically much smaller on December 3rd, but this 16% is drawn from the Nov. 13-17 Gallup Poll) could turn the tide of the republican race at a highly crucial point: less than a month away from the first Republican primary, the Iowa Caucuses.

Today, with the release of a new Gallup poll, it seems we have our answer. Gallup reports that former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich now leads Mitt Romney 37% to 22%, a mammoth lead in terms of this election season. This 15% lead seems even more extraordinary when considering that in the Nov 13-17 poll Gingrich lead Romney just 22% to 21%, while still-present Herman Cain held 16% of the votes. It seems, then, that today’s 15% Gingrich wave can be attributed nearly entirely to Herman Cain dropping out of the race. While of course there are many other scenarios for where the shifts can be accounted from, it seems like there is little change among the rest of the candidates. The only big movers are Cain, going from 16% to 0%, and Gingrich, going from 22% to 37%. It is also interesting to view these shifts in the context of the next two charts. The first shows preferences based on political ideology from November 13-17 with Cain present while the second shows the same from December 1-5 without Cain.

Cain with 18% of conservatives, Newt with 23%, and Romney with 20%.

With Cain absent after previously holding 18% Gingrich climbs 18% with conservatives while Romney stays the same. While I’m certainly no statistician, this seems almost too good to be true. It’s amazing to me that Romney has not been able to capitalize at any point and consume the rest of the GOP field. It seems that of those who have sat at the top he’s the only one with any serious blunders (this time around at least). While I still predict that Romney will inevitably capture the nomination, it’s becoming much harder to do so. I’m beginning to wonder if this prediction is coming more from insight or from hopefulness for a candidate I could self-respectively vote for, depending on their performance against Obama in the real race of course.

And now, A poll that I decided to put in mostly because I wanted to see how the poll function worked: