Businessman Herman Cain has been the beneficiary of lowering expectations and polling numbers for Texas governor Rick Perry in the wake of three consecutive debates in which Perry has underperformed.
Cain, who is pro-life, has bounced back up in the latest national poll of Republican voters conducted by ABC News and the Washington Post, and now ties the pro-life governor for second place behind Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who says he is pro-life on abortion.
Among announced candidates, Romney leads with 25 percent of the support of GOP voters while Cain and Perry get 16 percent each. That represents a 13-point drop for Perry and a 12-point rise for Cain since early September. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas is the only other candidate in double digits, having the support of 11 percent of Republicans. newt Gingrich places fifth with 7 percent in a tie with Michele Bachmann. Former Sen. Rick Santorum gets 2 percent while former governor Jon Huntsman gets 1 percent. Each of the candidates take a pro-life position on abortion.
The poll also found that, if they were running, pro-life New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would receive 10 percent while pro-life former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin would receive 9 percent. Christie is expected to announce today he is not running and Palin appears unlikely to join the race. About 42 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents say they would like to see the New Jersey governor join the race. Thirty-four percent, say no, with the rest offering no opinion, the survey found. Two-thirds of Republicans say they do not want Palin to run.
The bad news for Perry is clearly good news for Cain.
“In early September, Perry had a 3-to-1 advantage over any other candidate among those “strongly” backing the tea party, but his supported has plummeted from 45 percent to 10 percent in this group,” the Post reported. “Among all conservatives, Perry’s support has been sliced in half, from 39 to 19 percent. Some of his decline may stem from shaky debate showings: A majority of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents who have watched recent debates say the more they hear about Perry, the less they like him.”
“Cain picks up where Perry has faded,” the newspaper continued. “Seventy percent of those who saw the debates say the more they learn about Cain, the more they like him. Among tea party supporters, Cain’s support has surged from 5 percent to 30 percent in a month. The businessman, who scored a surprise win at the Florida straw poll, now has the edge among solid tea partyers.”
Conservative writer Ed Morrissey of Hot Air noted the poll also contained matchups of potential nominees against President Obama, who supports abortion.
“Obama falls into virtual ties with Romney, Perry, and Christie among registered voters, but an overwhelming majority expects Obama to lose next year, 55/37,” he says. “Among registered voters, 46% say they will definitely not vote for Obama next year, while only 23% say they definitely will — a slight improvement over August’s results. Also, for all of the media talk about the collapse in polling for the Tea Party, the WaPo/ABC poll shows support at 42/47, not terribly different from its track all year long, and slightly better than April’s 42/49.”
“The big news here is Herman Cain, especially among those to whom he is news. He easily gets the best score among the contestants on the question “the more you hear about X, do you like him/her more or less?” Cain gets at 47/12 on that question, while Romney gets a 38/35 and Perry gets a red-flag 30/44. Christie comes close to Cain in this category at 43/23, but Palin’s closer to Perry at 35/49,” Morrissey continued.
“Cain appears to have caught fire, but as we saw with Perry, all that means is that the scrutiny of the media — and the other candidates — will now turn to Cain. We’ll see how well he handles the heat, but another good debate performance might push him into the leading Not-Romney slot in the race,” he concluded.