New poll: Cain now part of top tier?
September 29th, 2011
11:00 AM ET
7 years ago

New poll: Cain now part of top tier?

Washington (CNN) - Has Herman Cain joined Rick Perry and Mitt Romney in what's described as the top tier of candidates in the race for the Republican presidential nomination?

That's what a new Fox News national poll seems to suggest.

The survey, released Wednesday, indicates that 17 percent of likely GOP primary voters say they back Cain, a businessman, former Godfather's Pizza CEO, and radio talk show host, for their party's presidential nomination. According to the poll, Cain is just two points behind Texas Governor Rick Perry (at 19 percent) and trails former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (at 23 percent) by six points. Both of those differences are within the poll's sampling error.

Cain has jumped 11 points from the last Fox poll, which was conducted in late August. The new survey was conducted Sunday through Tuesday, after last Thursday's GOP presidential debate, and also after Cain's overwhelming victory Saturday at a much watched straw poll of Florida Republican activists.

Perry has dropped ten points since the last Fox poll, and for the first time in a month the Texas governor isn't on top of the field in a major national GOP survey. The poll was conducted after Perry's uneven performance at that most recent presidential debate, and after Perry's distant second place finish at the Florida straw poll. Analysts and pundits had expected Perry to capture that non-binding vote.

Romney's numbers have stayed basically the same from August to late September, according to the Fox poll, and his four point advantage over Perry is within the poll's sampling error. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich did gain support in the Fox poll, moving from 3 percent in the late August poll to 11 percent in the current poll.

The Fox poll comes days after the release of a CNN/ORC International poll which also indicated gains for Gingrich and Cain in the wake of last Thursday's debate but still had Perry at the top of the GOP list. Without former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin in the race, the CNN poll, conducted in the three days immediately following the debate, showed Perry at 30 percent, Romney at 22 percent, Gingrich at 11 percent, and Cain at 9 percent.

Both surveys indicate a long-term drop for Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, whose standing in national polls has plummeted since winning a crucial straw poll in Iowa on August 13. Bachmann is at three percent in the new Fox poll and at four percent in the CNN survey.

"A lesson we have to re-learn every cycle is that the 'top tier' and every other tier is not made of concrete, but of Silly Putty," says Rich Galen, a Republican strategist who advised former Senator Fred Thompson during his 2008 GOP presidential bid. He is the author of, an online column.

"Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Rep. Michele Bachmann were once in the 'top tier' but Ron Paul has never been. Perry entered the race in the top tier, but who knows if he will stay there. If Herman Cain is in the top tier we'll have to see how long it lasts. Might end up with him accepting the nomination next August; might end up with him dropping out in December," adds Galen.

The Fox News Poll was conducted September 25-27, with 925 registered voters nationwide, including 363 GOP primary voters, questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points, with a sampling error of plus or minus five percentage points for questions asked only to GOP primary voters.

- Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PsteinhauserCNN

Filed under: 2012 • Herman Cain • Polls
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Sandy

    So Republicans are giving up all hope for the White House?

    September 29, 2011 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  2. shades

    well he is certainly better than Obama, but so is Mickey Mouse, so.....
    although I like Herm, not sure he is electible.
    but good for him for staying in

    September 29, 2011 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |

    Who cares? Wingnut wackjobs talk themselves into the ground.

    September 29, 2011 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  4. Roxbury

    Interesting. Can't wait to see where this is going .....

    September 29, 2011 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  5. Jo Jo

    This is my response to Cain accusing blacks of being brainwashed. The comments section was closed so I'll post it here.

    Since Cain wants to play the race card and accuse blacks of being brainwashed, why did most blacks vote for Clinton and every other white democratic president? It's not that blacks are brainwashed, (only idiots and morons would think this way), it's just they seem to vote democratic. It burns my blood to see another Uncle Tom brown nosing his way into politics. If Cain doesn't have a legitimate campaign leg to stand on, don't insult the intelligence of black people by saying they have to be brainwashed to vote for a black president. Cain needs to learn a lesson from former GOP leader, Michael Steele. Once his party finished using him as a mouth piece to insult the president, he was kicked to the curb. You don’t hear a peep out of newly elected GOP leader and why is that you suppose? So, if anyone thinks GOP represents the middle-class and poor, they are brainwashed. Why would blacks (or any other middle-class voter) vote for a party who has demonstrated nothing but contempt for their plight like stripping them of voting rights and cutting education and medical insurance? If wanting these things makes you brainwashed, then I’d rather be brainwashed any day than to vote GOP = tea bagger!

    September 29, 2011 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  6. Laverne

    I guess saying "blacks are brainwashed" must have put him over the edge. I find it insulting that he would suggest that blacks are brainwashed because they vote democratic. I, myself as a black female vote democratic not because of economic issues, but more social and environmental issues. I would NOT vote for Herman Cain because he is black. I simply do not agree with his views on most issues. It is also insulting for this guy thinks blacks can't think for themselves and I can tell you he won't win over blacks this way, but then again he is not really trying to get the black vote, he said what he said to try and impress the whites and gain their support. Well Mr. Cain you got it and it still won't be enough for you to win your parties nomination.

    September 29, 2011 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  7. thomas

    The Vice President of Pizza !

    Romney / Cain
    Extra Cheese 2012

    September 29, 2011 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  8. Four and The Door

    Right now Cain's chances of being President in 2013 are better than Obama's.

    September 29, 2011 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  9. ConservaFASCISTS/TEAliban/TEAhadists

    Mr. Motisa(Mo-Tea-Sir?) is an Uncle Tom. If you're black and in the RepubliKKKlan Party, you are an idiot!!!

    September 29, 2011 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    Early in the campaign season I had posted Cain looked like he was the best candidate in the field, but not the one most likely to get the nomination. Cain changed my mind shortly before the first debate in May when he began speaking publicly in the national media. Yesterday's remarks are a good example of why he keeps losing points with me.

    But, if he is losing points with me, then that must mean that he is gaining points with the extreme right wing. He definitely wants to "be the beast" that the right wing is looking for. He appears to be hands down smarter than Perry. Finally, he's hands down smarter than Romney because Mitt was stupid enough to praise Cain's business credentials during debates.

    September 29, 2011 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  11. LovesIrony

    Is Shemp a top tier stooge joining Moe, Larry, and Curly? or is he a lower tier with Joe and Curly Joe?

    September 29, 2011 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  12. Emmy Skaddittle

    please as if the racist GOTP'ers are going to vote for a black man

    September 29, 2011 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  13. Al-NY,NY

    Keep it up GOP. Nominating ANYONE other than Mittens is a guaranteed additional 4 years for President Obama.

    September 29, 2011 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  14. BP

    Cain?!?! In the top tier?!? The media will do anything to assure their candidate is the candidate, and keep all others out of the way. Ron Paul 2012.

    September 29, 2011 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  15. joinalabama

    A black candidate who has some who has some business experience or a community organizer. I'd go for the experience.

    September 29, 2011 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  16. al in memphis

    He is only there until I get in. Then I will be in the top tier and I am an independent.

    September 29, 2011 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  17. Sylvia Saint

    I'm sorry but crazy Bachmann was NEVER top tier. Simply because she walked on the 1st debate stage without tripping over her feet, she was treated like a legitamate contender.

    Cain has more mental gravitas than Bachmann but he is woefully unprepared to lead in an environment where he can't FIRE people that don't carry out his orders. I don't know where this "we should elect a corporate leader" nonsense came from but it is NOT RELEVANT to the problems we face. Congress spends the money, Congress fillibusters legislation, Congress puts "secret holds" on judicial nominees. Cain couldn't FIRE THEM if he were President.

    Finally, do we REALLY want him to repeat his accomplishments as a CEO? The number of employees dropped by 20% under him; 1 in 5 lost their jobs. Under Cain, Godfathers went on to become the 10th ranked pizza supplier. REALLY, 10th ?? !! Is that what we want? Can you name 10 national pizza outlets? I can't.

    How bad must Cain have been as the strategic visionary at Godfathers for it to have come in 10th?

    September 29, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  18. David K.

    "Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Rep. Michele Bachmann were once in the 'top tier' but Ron Paul has never been"

    Ron Paul has been in the top tier, you just refuse to acknowledge it. He came within one percent of winning in Ames, a poll out yesterday showed him besting Obama in a head to head matchup. Why do we let the guy who worked for bottom tier Fred Thompson tell us who our candidate should be?

    September 29, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  19. Deborah Alfano

    CNN has touted the Tea Party as racist but Cain has always been a favorite of theirs. Americans do not like the Presidents policies and his lack of leadership but the fact he is black is not the reason many want him to be replaced in the next election. I personally wish the first black President had been a strong leader with many accomplishments. I worry about the first Female President, will she be strong enough, I hope so. For now, the country needs to back off of the racial comments and the hateful rants coming from the Democrats accusing everyone of being racist. Hey, we elected him and we expected him to do what he said he would do. We gave him the House and the Senate as well but for two years he failed to do anything more than push Health Care Reform, which most Americans did not want. I find all of this sad and disappointing but I am glad that Americans see Cain as a potential candidate for President.

    September 29, 2011 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  20. Rick McDaniel

    No, I don't think so.

    September 29, 2011 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  21. Lynda/Minnesota

    Just curious, CNN. Is this REALLY where you want to go until November 2012? If today is any indication, you'll lose more than you'll be gaining - in more ways than the obvious theme now being displayed courtesy of CNNs Ticker.

    September 29, 2011 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  22. ED FL

    You MR Cain are living in a make believe dream world if you think you have a chance at becoming President. We presently have someone way above your intellect and ability and you see what is happening to him. The GOP is using you because they THINK that posting an African American against another is a better way to do it They will dump you like a hot potato as soon as they no longer have a need for you. Reality is what it is!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 29, 2011 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  23. Russ

    Yea, but the catch here is it's a Fox poll. Cain is just another old rich man. The only difference is he's black. He still is looking out for corporate American and his wealthy friends. He does need the poor minority vote to win though. The sad part is, many of them will fall for his "I'll help you" bullsh&t. Then suffer ever after when he laughs at you from his mansion or yacht.

    September 29, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |

    Seems Cain is a decent man, just not sure if he has the merits to be president. Of course, this same problem did not stop Pres. Obama back in 2008.

    September 29, 2011 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  25. drogo, the stallion that mounts the world almost

    No one really believe one black man is going to be replace another black man.

    September 29, 2011 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
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