Poll: Cain Edges Romney Atop GOP Field
Herman Cain, the former CEO of Godfather's Pizza, is the preferred choice of a narrow plurality of Republican presidential primary voters in a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released late Wednesday, as the already-volatile race for the GOP nomination has again been turned on its head.
Cain leads former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, 27 percent to 23 percent, well within the survey's margin of error of +/- 5.3 percent. Texas Gov. Rick Perry is third, at 16 percent, followed by Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tex., at 11 percent. Trailing the pack are former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, with eight percent; Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., with five percent; and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who is at three percent.
Six weeks ago, Perry was the national frontrunner, while Romney was clearly in second place. But as Perry has plummeted -- a result of poor debate performances and effective attacks from his GOP competitors -- Romney remains stuck at the exact same percentage. In that survey, conducted at the end of August, Perry had a clear lead over Romney, 38 percent to 23 percent, with Cain at just five percent.
After that poll six weeks ago, Democratic pollster Peter Hart declared that President Obama "was no longer the favorite" for reelection. This new survey contains slightly better news for the president and his party, though Obama's vulnerability is still very evident in the data.
Obama's approval rating is just 41 percent, identical to the late August survey. A slight majority, 51 percent, disapproves of his job performance. On the economy, 39 percent of Americans approve of the job Obama is doing, virtually identical to his 37-percent rating on that issue in August.
But other measures have improved slightly. His personal positive/negative rating is once again right-side-up: 46 percent have a positive opinion of him, while 40 percent have a negative opinion, better than the 44 percent positive/44 percent negative score he tallied in August.
Matched up against a generic Republican opponent, Obama has a slight advantage among registered voters, 44 percent to 42 percent. In August, the generic Republican had a four-point lead on that question.
Against specific Republican candidates, Obama leads by small margins. His two-point edge over Romney -- up from one point in August -- is within the margin of error. He notches 11-point and 12-point leads against Cain and Perry, respectively, a sign that Romney is, at this time, the more formidable general election candidate.