A new IBOPE Zogby poll shows Atlanta businessman Herman Cain vaulting into the No. 1 front-runner position among active candidates as the choice to win the GOP presidential nomination in 2012.
Cain, a longtime Pillsbury executive who later became chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, was the preferred choice of 14 percent of the likely Republican primary voters polled.
His showing placed second only to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who got 17 percent. Christie, however, has insisted repeatedly that he will not be running for president in 2012. Ron Paul placed third with 10 percent, followed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who had 9 percent.
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Pollster John Zogby told Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview that the sudden rise of Cain shows the degree of restlessness among GOP faithful, given their current options.
“He’s not well known. He’s very plain speaking,” Zogby said. “But when someone enters the forum, as he did during that debate, and rises to the top, it’s kind of like Donald Trump, it’s kind of like Chris Christie: “We don’t like the field, this is a guy that we can believe in.’”
Cain was considered the winner of the recent Fox News debate held in South Carolina. His memorable applause line came when a panelist pointed out that he lacked experience holding public office. Cain pointed out that almost everyone elected to national office in Washington, D.C., had prior public service experience.
“How’s that working out for you?” he asked rhetorically.
Asked if he was surprised by Romney’s fourth place showing in the poll, Zogby said there are indications Romney may have “a troubled candidacy.”
“If you look at New Hampshire for example, which Romney did not win in 2008, which is his next door state, he lost that to [Arizona GOP Sen.] John McCain,” Zogby told Newsmax.
Romney’s biggest problem, said the pollster, was his support for a healthcare reform scheme in Massachusetts with significant similarities to the ObamaCare health plan.
Zogby’s other points in the exclusive Newsmax.TV interview:
- Ron Paul, he said, is “a 10 percenter,” solid and “very intense” support, that is limited. While it’s hard to see him winning the nomination, Zogby said, his supporters are very passionate about his candidacy.
- By confronting the unions in New Jersey, Christie is giving Republicans “to some degree is an alternative governing model, not just an alternative governing model.”
- He sees a scenario where Christie could still be convinced to enter the race. In this instance, this could be a case where no candidate seems to be breaking from the pack by the fall of this year, by 2011, and party establishment comes to visit Chris Christie and says, ‘You’re the guy who leads the polls, you’re the only guy who has a chance to beat Barack Obama.”
- Although Republicans often follow a “gold-watch” pattern of awarding the nomination to the most established Republican leader, he believes that trend may not hold this cycle. That could work against Romney, he said.
- One interesting finding in the IBOPE Zogby Poll: Although only 9 percent of the 1,377 GOP primary voters favored Romney, by a wide margin he is considered the candidate most likely to get the nomination. Thirty-one percent think Romney will be the nominee. The next closest contender: former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, at 8 percent.
The poll was conducted before former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and businessman Donald Trump, opted out of the race for the GOP nomination. It also occurred before former House Speaker Newt Gingrich described GOP Rep. Paul Ryan’s entitlement reform proposal as “right-wing social engineering.”
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