Former restaurant-industry executive Herman Cain has catapulted to the lead in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, as GOP voters grow disenchanted with Texas Gov. Rick Perry and remain wary of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds

Drawn by Mr. Cain’s blunt, folksy style in recent debates, 27% of Republican primary voters picked him as their first choice for the nomination, a jump of 22 percentage points from six weeks ago.

Mr. Romney held firm in second place at 23%, his same share as in a Journal poll in late August, while Mr. Perry plummeted to 16%, from 38% in August.