Herman Cain Tops the Polls


Several national polls now show Herman Cain as the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination.  The Wall Street Journal / NBC News poll has the race looking like this:

Herman Cain 27%

Mitt Romney 23%

Rick Perry 16%

Ron Paul 11%

Newt Gingrich 8%

Michele Bachmann 5%

Jon Huntsman 3%

Rick Santorum 1%

Public Policy Polling shows a similar lead for Cain, although their poll looks a lot better for Newt Gingrich:

Herman Cain 30%

Mitt Romney 22%

Newt Gingrich 15%

Rick Perry 14%

Michele Bachmann 5%

Ron Paul 5%

Jon Huntsman 2%

Rick Santorum 1%

Both of these polls were taken before Tuesday night’s debate.  Interestingly, although Gingrich doesn’t fare well enough to crack the top three in the WSJ/NBC poll, they’ve got his positive approval ratings roughly in line with Cain and Romney – at Cain 52%, Romney 51%, and Gingrich 49%, they have by far the highest favorability ratings of the GOP field.  PPP has their favorability ratings at Cain 66%, Gingrich 57%, Romney 55%.  Gingrich and Cain appear to be doing very well with campaigns built largely on good debate performances.

It will be interesting to see if the Dartmouth debate puts some wind in the Gingrich sails.  Chris Stirewalt at Fox News calls it “his best debate performance so far” in a post titled “Newt Boom Next?”, noting that “it was the ideal environment for him: a policy-driven discussion on fiscal and economic matters with questioners who were coming from the heart of the establishment press.” 

Stirewalt speculates that Cain may be about to pay a price for dropping the name of a certain former Fed chairman: “His expression of admiration for Alan Greenspan will be enough to put a lot of conservatives off of him anyway.  Rep. Ron Paul nearly popped his top when Cain, a former chairman of the Kansas City Federal Reserve already in Paul’s crosshairs for being dismissive about the need to audit the central bank, endorsed Greenspan’s economic vision.” 

We should be one or two polls away from finding out if the Republican base finds Greenspan’s memory as nauseous as conventional wisdom says they will.  I thought it was a misstep myself, not because it reveals economic demons lurking in the shadows of Cain’s otherwise Reaganesque mind, but because it’s the same answer a lot of people would give if you grabbed them and shouted, “Quick!  Name a former chairman of the Federal Reserve!”  I’m genuinely curious to see how much the base holds that against him.