WASHINGTON — White House hopeful Mitt Romney has vaulted over rival Rick Perry to reclaim the top spot in the Republican bid to challenge President Barack Obama next year, a national poll found.
A Fox News poll released late Wednesday said 23 percent of registered US voters surveyed backed Romney for the Republican nomination.
While that is just one point higher than a month earlier, he is now ahead of Texas Governor Perry, who came in at 19 percent, a 10-point slide from the previous month.
The survey also showed a new face in the GOP top tier, Herman Cain, who came in third with 17 percent, and marked a steady slide of Tea Party darling Michele Bachmann, whose support slipped to three percent from eight percent last month and 15 percent in July.
Cain, a former pizza company executive, nearly tripled his support from the previous month, after enjoying a major bump from his surprise victory in last weekend's Florida straw poll.
The Fox poll of 925 voters had a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.
Another national survey published Wednesday, by The Economist magazine and website YouGov, put Romney ahead with 15 percent, a notch above Perry (14 percent).
But the poll also included potential candidates who have not yet declared, including 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin (eight percent) and current New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (15 percent).
That survey had a margin of error of 3.7 points.
On Monday, a CNN poll put Perry atop the Republican field, scoring 28 percent support compared with Romney's 21 percent, but respondents said Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, would fare better in a head-to-head contest against Obama.
Beginning in February, US states will hold Republican contests aimed at nominating a candidate to go up against Obama in the November 2012 general election.