Wall Street Journal and NBC. The poll, which surveyed 1,000 adults and was refined to 336 Republican primary voters, indicated that Georgia native Herman Cain was the first choice of 27 percent of Republican voters. Cain was followed by Mitt Romney with 23 percent and Rick Perry with 16 percent. At 11 percent, Ron Paul was the only other candidate to score in double digits.
The poll also indicated that Cain generates the most enthusiasm among Republican voters. Forty-five percent of Republican voters said that they would vote for Cain with enthusiasm. Thirty-nine percent would enthusiastically vote for Romney and 35 percent for Rick Perry. Conversely, only 27 percent had some reservations about Cain, while 40 percent had reservations about Romney and 39 percent had reservations about Perry.
Among all voters, 74 percent said that they country was on the wrong track and 57 percent disapprove of President Obama’s handling of the economy (39 percent approve). The president’s total approval rating was 44 percent with 51 percent disapproval.
Republican candidates still have work to do to unseat Mr. Obama, however. Mitt Romney was the Republican candidate who came closest to beating the president. Romney was favored by 44 percent to President Obama’s 46 percent in a head-to-head matchup. Rick Perry scored 39 percent to Obama’s 51 percent. Herman Cain matched Rick Perry with 38 percent to President Obama’s 49 percent.
The poll reflects Cain’s stellar performance in Tuesday night’s debate and the media attention from his 9-9-9 plan for tax reform. The former WSB AM-750 talk radio host has also released a new autobiography, “My Journey to the White House.” Cain, who emceed the Douglas County, Ga. Tea Party in 2010 seems to be winning over Republican voters, but still has a long way to go to convince most Americans that he can solve the country’s economic problems.
The poll also reflects Rick Perry’s fall from prominence after several lackluster debate performances, as well as continuing doubts about Mitt Romney. Perry leapt to frontrunner status quickly after entering the race, but seems to have disappointed many potential voters. Romney, whose Mormon religion has caused controversy of late, is viewed with some suspicion because of his role in Massachusetts’ health care reform, as well as his late conversion to the pro-life movement.
The Republican primary race has been very fluid with many different candidates generating enthusiasm at various times. It remains to be seen whether Cain will be able to hold the lead until the voting starts. His newfound frontrunner status will generate increased scrutiny of his economic proposals and record as a businessman and Federal Reserve member. He will likely also face increased attacks from the other Republican candidates as well as Democrats and liberal pundits. Indeed, some on left have already accused Cain of being a racist and a bigot.
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