A Newsmax/InsiderAdvantage poll shows businessman and radio talk host Herman Cain now leading former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney among likely GOP primary voters in the fight for the 2012 Republican nomination.
The exclusive poll, taken in the past 24 hours, shows Cain vaulting Romney 26 percent to 24 percent. The poll has a margin of error of 4.4 percent.
Several other polls show similar results, establishing Cain as the new grass-roots front-runner deadlocked with Romney, the establishment Republican choice.
A new CBS poll showed Cain and Romney deadlocked, with each candidate garnering 17 percent of the vote. And a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday shows Romney leading Cain 22 percent to 17 percent — a statistical tie because of the poll’s margin of error.
Cain’s emergence corresponds with Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s fall from front-runner status, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s decision Tuesday not to throw his hat in the ring.
Just two weeks ago, Cain barely registered a pulse in the CBS poll at 5 percent. Pundits say his rapid ascent to co-front-runner status for the GOP nomination reflects several factors: the decline of Perry after a rough couple of weeks on the campaign trail, persistent dissatisfaction with Romney among the GOP grass roots, and the popularity of Cain’s “9-9-9” economic plan, which has a catchy name and is easy to understand.
The national Newsmax-InsiderAdvantage poll was based on interviews with 477 likely Republican primary voters. Perry trailed Cain and Romney with 14 percent; and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich continued his steady climb, placing fourth with 8.5 percent of the vote. Texas Rep. Ron Paul had 7.1 percent of the vote, while Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann continues to struggle, with 3.7 percent.
“Herman Cain has done two very smart things,” InsiderAdvantage CEO Matt Towery tells Newsmax. “First of all, he’s willing to show personality.
"He’s not afraid to be Herman Cain . . . This is the real Herman Cain you see on the stage. There is no difference between the Herman you see on the stage, and the Herman you see talking. And he’s just letting it all fly.
“The second thing is, Herman Cain has done something very smart in that he has created in essence an acronym for his plan to solve the tax and deficit situation, his 9-9-9 plan. Usually in political debates if you can create something people can hold onto and remember, or even gives the impression that you have a specific plan, you’re going to gain substantial points.”
Towery says Cain is demonstrating that he has been able to compensate for his lack of political experience by applying the marketing and presentation skills he mastered in the corporate world, where he restored Godfather’s Pizza to profitability, served as head of the National Restaurant Association, and chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Cain’s strength should concern Romney, Towery says.
“I think it is a wake-up call,” says Towery. “But one thing we have to keep in mind is that national polls can be very deceiving . . . ultimately, the primary is a state-by-state contest.”
The Newsmax/InsiderAdvantage poll also asked likely Republican primary voters: “If Mitt Romney becomes the Republican nominee, would you be likely, somewhat likely, somewhat unlikely, or unlikely to support a third-party candidate?” Thirty-five percent of likely GOP voters said it either was likely (19.5 percent) or somewhat likely (15.5 percent) that they would support a third-party candidate, if Romney wins the GOP nomination.
“That certainly is very significant,” Towery says. “I would say this indicates some degree of a problem for Romney. But I would suggest that if we put anyone’s name in that category, you would get at least a healthy percentage right now who would say they want a third-party candidate, because they still don’t know these candidates that well — although Mitt Romney has run one time before. I don’t think this is necessarily a reflection of a huge break.”
Romney got some good news from a Quinnipiac poll question that asked voters if they would be more likely to vote for Romney or Obama in November 2012. Romney won 46 to 42 in that poll, which had a 4.0 margin of error.
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