One month. 30 days. That is the how long it took Herman Cain, Former Godfather Pizza CEO, to go from GOP Presidential Candidate afterthought to front runner in the latest polls. In a CNN Opinion Research Poll from Sept. 23 to Sept. 25 Cain was polling in fourth place, tied with Ron Paul. By stark contrast, in a CBS News Poll from October 19 to October 24 Cain was leading the pack with a four point lead over former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
Cain’s rise to the top can be attributed to several factors; most notably the electorate’s complete dissatisfaction with the Republican slate of candidates. The only candidate that has consistently performed strongly in the polls has been Romney. When Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann and Texas Governor Rick Perry entered the field, they both were leading shortly after they formally announced their candidacy for presidency. Yet before long they nosedived in the polls.
The difference with their strong poll numbers and Cain’s is that Cain’s come after he had been in the race for months. He does not follow the path of the other candidate’s respective rises.
Cain’s upsurge can also be credited to his strong debate style. Cain has been one of the strongest debaters over the course of the Republican debates with his consistent rhetoric and charismatic style. Surprisingly that rhetoric could be his downfall.
During the debates Cain references his 9/9/9 plan with great frequency. At first it was a catchy sound bite that played well in the media. The Primary Voter was impressed that he stayed on message. But surprisingly for the same reasons why voters were drawn to Cain, many political pundits believe that they will turn away from him.
As Cain started to rise in the polls his 9/9/9 plan has come under strict scrutiny and skepticism. The plan calls for a nine percent tax rate on income tax, sales tax and corporate tax.
As economists have more publicly discussed the plan, the findings have been that taxes would actually be raised for the majority of Americans. Tax cuts would be reserved for only for the affluent. Cain has tried to qualm naysayers, emphasizing that the plan will cut taxes for a majority but with constant negative media it seems unlikely that primary voters will buy it.
It is likely in fact that Cain will fall in the polls as rapidly as he rose in light of his recent statements on abortion. In a recent interview Cain stated that he believed that abortion is a woman’s choice. These comments contrast starkly with the popular republican viewpoint and his support is likely to falter if he’s unable to rectify his statements.
Should Cain recede into the background, it remains to be seen who will pick up the right-wing and many independent voters. Throughout the rise and fall of the various Republican candidates, it has at least remained constant that Romney lacks popular support. The question is, can the GOP rally its support around one candidate through to November 2012?
– Robert Hirsch