Category Archives: Presidential campaign

Herman Cain: “Flavor of the Month” or “The Real Thing?”

For almost three years, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was the darling of many GOP conservatives. Her missteps and her on, and finally off, flirtation with a presidential run helped create a surge of conservative support for Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN-6). Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s entrance into the GOP fray nearly coincided with a steep decline in Bachmann’s support. Now, in the wake of his recent poor debate performance Perry has seen his drop in the polls equal the rate of his quick ascendancy to top tier status.

In recent days Perry’s precipitous slide, coupled with former pizza magnate and radio talk show host Herman Cain’s surge are the talk of GOP conservatives.

Cain has topped a bevy of recent straw polls, which, for Republicans, tend to be tests of conservative activists. Cain’s straw poll upset in the early battleground state of Florida surprised the Perry camp and many GOP regulars. His fundraising has apparently picked up substantially and his opinion survey numbers are climbing, too. A recent CBS News survey had the Atlanta businessman in a statistical tie for the lead with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Is the new Republican frontrunner Herman Cain? He may be at least for this week. Public Policy Polling (PPP) polled Republican primary voters in three very different states last weekend: North Carolina, Nebraska and West Virginia. Each of the three surveys showed Cain leading the way. The polls also showed support for Newt Gingrich increasing, Mitt Romney support holding steady, and a collapse in Rick Perry’s numbers.

Here are the results:

North Carolina: Cain – 27 percent, Romney – 17, Gingrich – 17, Perry – 15, Paul – 6, Bachmann – 6, Santorum – 2 and Huntsman – 2.

Nebraska: Cain – 30 percent, Gingrich – 16, Romney – 13, Bachmann – 10, Perry – 10, Paul – – 5, Santorum – 4, Huntsman – 2

West Virginia: Cain – 24 percent, Gingrich – 18, Romney – 16, Perry – 15, Bachmann – 8, Paul – 6, Santorum – 3, Huntsman – 1

PPP surveyed 400 regular Republican primary voters in Nebraska and 300 primary voters in West Virginia from Sept. 30-Oct. 2, as well as 400 primary voters in North Carolina from Sept. 30-Oct. 3. The margin of error for the Nebraska and North Carolina surveys was +/-4.9 percent, and +/-5.7 percent for the West Virginia survey. These polls were not paid for or authorized by any campaign or political organization.

Cain told the Associated Press on Wednesday, “I am not worried about being the flavor of the week, because we have a whole lot of substance we are putting out there, and Cain supporters do not defect.”

His 9-9-9 tax plan is clearly the central theme of his campaign thus far and seems to be earning him supporters. At the heart of his plan is a promise to scrap the current tax code and replace it with a 9 percent tax on corporations and personal income as well as a 9 percent national sales tax. The sheer simplicity of the change, Cain argues, would boost the economy.

Herman Cain isn’t concerned about being the “Flavor of the Month,” but voters will decide if he’s “The Real Thing.”

National Q-Poll: Romney Tops Obama

Quinnipiac University conducted a national large-sample political survey (Sept. 27-Oct. 3; 2,118 registered voters; 927 self-identified Republicans) and found that Mitt Romney has taken a 46-42 percent lead over President Obama. Gov. Rick Perry, who has fallen badly in GOP primary ballot tests, also is highly competitive when paired with Mr. Obama trailing the incumbent by just one point, 44-45 percent. At the heart of the downturn in the President’s fortune are his favorability numbers. According to this latest Q-Poll, even his personal approval, heretofore a great Obama strength, has turned upside down. Only 42 percent of the respondents expressed a favorable opinion about Mr. Obama, while 53 percent held negative feelings. His re-elect score is even more troublesome. When asked if the President deserves to be re-elected, 54 percent of the respondents said NO, versus just 42 percent who responded affirmatively.

The national Q-Poll also brought some bad news for Gov. Perry. His personal approval ratio is a rather poor 22:35 percent favorable to unfavorable. In a hypothetical head-to-head ballot test against Mr. Romney, the Texas governor trails by a substantial 34-48 percent. By contrast, Mr. Romney’s approval rating is 39:28 percent.

The overall primary numbers showed an improving situation for Romney, too. According to the 927 Republican Q-Poll respondents, the former Massachusetts governor places first with 24 percent, followed by retired businessman Herman Cain who is experiencing a dramatic rise is support at 18 percent, with Gov. Perry trailing with 15 percent. No other candidate reached double-digits.

This latest poll once again reveals the heightened volatility within the Republican primary field. It appears that we are on the eve of a very long and hard-fought GOP nomination contest.

A New Primary Schedule

Florida’s move this past weekend to change its primary date to Jan. 31 in violation of Republican National Committee rules will drastically alter the GOP presidential nomination fight. Under RNC dictates, the only states permitted to conduct a delegate selection event prior to the March 6 Super Tuesday date are Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. Florida is willing to accept penalties that will reduce their 99-member Republican National Committee delegation to approximately 50, coupled with other sanctions, in order to make the move.

But accepting intra-party punishment is not the only factor involved in altering their election schedule. Under the Voting Rights Act, all or parts of 16 states are subjected to federal approval of all electoral moves, including primary/caucus date selection. Therefore, it is the Obama Justice Department that will have to grant Florida, New Hampshire, and South Carolina “pre-clearance” or, in this case, permission, to schedule a nominating event in January 2012. Only Iowa and Nevada, in this group of five states, may move unencumbered because they are not part of the group of 16.

The RNC’s originally proposed calendar began with the Iowa Caucus in early February, but Florida’s attempted move to the last day in January means the other four states are forced to leap-frog the Sunshine State in order to maintain their prominent political position. This means five nominating events, two caucuses (IA, NV) and three primaries (NH, SC, FL), will be held in the first month of next year followed by a five-week void until Super Tuesday in early March.

How does the proposed schedule change affect the current crop of candidates and potential late entries? The big winners under the new calendar are the two front-runners, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. The early and compressed voting schedule favors the better-known candidates and those having the largest campaign war chests. The quicker time frame featuring five shotgun-style nominating events in a 29-day period gives less time to the current also-rans to ramp up a credible campaign and makes gaining momentum from an early surprise victory even more difficult because there simply won’t be enough time to cement a previous win.

But the potential late entries are an even greater disadvantage under the new voting schedule because they will now have less time to construct a major campaign operation from scratch. Therefore, Florida’s decision this weekend makes it even more unlikely that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and former Vice-Presidential nominee Sarah Palin will become official candidates.

If the GOP fight winnows down to a two-candidate race in January, then watch for a very interesting race. Perry wins a one-on-one match with Romney if he can successfully cast himself as the conservatives’ candidate and frame Romney as the moderate. On the other hand, as we have seen particularly in the last 10 days, Romney has the superior campaign apparatus, so Perry will have to make a rapid operational improvement or he risks losing his early strong standing.

As so often in American politics, the schedule can be the determining factor in deciding battles. Such may be the case with the 2012 GOP presidential contest. At the very least, however, this weekend’s Florida decision has set this campaign upon a brand new course.

A Polling Trifecta

An interesting set of three presidential polls was just released: a national survey testing the Republican candidates, which reveals a new leader and a surprise mover, and two key state general election studies that show President Obama barely clinging to a lead in two places that he carried comfortably back in 2008.

Fox News, contracting with both Democratic and Republican polling firms, which seem to have conducted a more methodologically sound survey than others emanating from the network in the recent past, shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney recapturing the lead over Texas Gov. Rick Perry. The big mover, however, was retired businessman Herman Cain, who catapulted himself into a strong third position.

The pollsters, Anderson Robbins (D) and Shaw & Company (R), went into the field during the Sept. 25-27 period and questioned 925 registered voters. The error factor is plus or minus 3 percentage points 95 percent of the time. Of the group, 363 individuals are Republican primary voters. The results show that Gov. Perry took a hit from his poor debate performance before the Presidency 5 straw poll in Florida, and his lackluster showing at the event itself. Though Romney only gained one percentage point from the last Fox News poll, he secures first place with just 23 percent of the vote. Perry is next with 19 percent, dropping a full 10 points when compared with the Fox Aug. 29-31 survey. Cain captures a solid 17 percent, making him now a close third nationally, at least according to this particular poll. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is the other significant mover. He grew from 3 percent to 11 percent during the interval between the two Fox polls.

These results are not particularly surprising. Perry has taken a media beating since the Presidency 5 debate and straw poll, so it was expected that he would fall to a diminished position in the ensuing national polls. Though Romney is leading, he continues to record stagnant numbers and still cannot break out of the low 20s. Considering he is the best known of all the Republican candidates, a standing of this level should not be seen as particularly encouraging.

The Cain numbers are interesting, and reflect that he’s receiving more positive exposure before a public that is clearly looking for a new option, but this result could also be short-lived. Next month’s polling data will show if Mr. Cain has staying power or if his current standing is simply an anomaly.

Turning to the two large-sample Quinnipiac University general election polls taken in Ohio (Sept. 20-26; 1,301 registered Ohio voters) and Pennsylvania (Sept. 21-26; 1,370 registered Pennsylvania voters), it appears that Gov. Perry is not the only candidate who is seeing his fortunes decline. Mr. Obama, who scored a 51-47 percent victory in the Buckeye State and a 54-44 percent triumph in neighboring Pennsylvania three years ago, fares considerably worse today against both Romney and Perry.

In Ohio, the President can manage only a 44-42 percent edge over Romney and a similar 44-41 percent advantage when matched up against Perry. Mr. Obama’s Ohio standing is reflective of his poor job approval rating, according to these Q-Poll results. By a margin of 42:53 percent, the Buckeye State respondents disapprove of the job he is doing in the White House. Potentially an even worse ratio from his perspective, only 43 percent of those surveyed believe the President deserves re-election, while a majority 51 percent say he does not.

The Pennsylvania numbers are strikingly similar to those found in Ohio. There, the President maintains an almost identical 45-43 percent spread against Mr. Romney, but does slightly better when matched with Perry, leading him 46-40 percent. Perhaps most surprising of all, Mr. Obama can only manage a three-point, 45-42 percent margin against defeated Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who lost his seat in 2006 by more than 17 percentage points.

As in Ohio, Mr. Obama’s job approval numbers in this critical political state are poor. The Pennsylvania respondents, by a margin of 43:54 percent, disapprove of his performance as President. And, his re-elect score is also similar to that found in Ohio. Among Keystone State voters, 44 percent say he deserves another term in office, while, again, a majority 51 percent of those sampled say he does not.

With all of the major candidates now seemingly on a bit of a downward spiral, the election of 2012 can be counted upon to be highly unpredictable as it moves forward.

Muscial Chairs Again

In 2008, states began climbing over each other in order to obtain a better schedule for their own presidential nominating event, whether it be by caucus or primary. Places like Florida moved into a more prominent position, defying party rules, and were penalized half of their delegate slots, among other perks, at the respective national conventions. Saturday, the deadline for states to inform the Republican National Committee about their primary or caucus schedule will finally give us the opportunity of seeing how the primary/caucus calendar will unfold. Under RNC rules, only Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina are allowed to conduct delegate selection events prior to Super Tuesday, which, in 2012, is March 6.

The Florida commission charged with selecting the Republican primary date is already indicating they may choose Jan. 31 for their primary vote at their meeting tomorrow afternoon, in direct violation of RNC rules. Such a move will cost them half of their 99 Republican National Convention delegates. Should they move in this direction, watch Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina all move to an early or mid-January date. This will again drastically change each candidate’s campaign strategy, and the short calendar will make each early victory all the more important in terms of political momentum.

Interestingly, should the early states split their votes and different candidates win the first caucuses and primaries, then the late states will ultimately find themselves holding all the political cards, and with their full complement of delegates. If no clear leader emerges from the early states, then the bigger late states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas and California will have a much greater say in determining who becomes the Republican nominee. With the nominating schedule finally being set on Saturday, the official calendar could tell us a great deal about who may become the eventual winner.