Mitt Romney bolstered his status as the clear early frontrunner in the GOP presidential field, as two polls conducted just ahead of Monday night's debate show Romney pulling away from the pack.
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In each poll, Romney earned the support of one-fourth of respondents, giving him comfortable leads over the rest of the field. And in each poll, a candidate who will not be participating in the debate and who has not made a final decision about a potential candidacy claimed second place: Sarah Palin.
In a Gallup poll released Monday, Romney came out on top at 24%, a seven point increase from where he stood last month. That boost gave him a robust eight point lead over Palin, who came in at 16%, and who had trailed Romney by only two points last month. Former pizza chain CEO Herman Cain placed third at 9%, followed by Ron Paul with 7%, and then Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum with 6%. Newt Gingrich, who just a few months ago typically finished in the top tier, dropped down to 8th place at 5% after a bruising month of gaffes and bad press.