Jonathan Jones

Big gain for Cain

Remember Herman Cain? The former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza who scored a surprise win at the first Republican presidential primary debate earlier this month? Well, the latest Gallup poll is out today, and shows him on 8 per cent amongst potential primary voters: essentially tied for third behind Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin.

This is the first poll conducted since Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump and Mitch Daniels all declared that they would not seek the nomination, and is also the first of Gallup’s to include Cain’s name. 8 per cent may not sound all that impressive, but it is when you consider that just 33 per cent of respondents know who he is. In other words, 24 per cent of those who’ve heard of Cain have him as their number one choice to be the nominee. On this measure, he ranks ahead of all the other candidates:

It is extremely rare to see a candidate with such low name recognition doing so well in the polls. There have been just two candidates since 1972 who polled so well with similar name recognition at this point in the cycle: Jimmy Carter in 1976 and John Edwards in 2004. One became President, the other was runner up in the primary and became his party’s Vice-Presidential nominee.

The good news for Cain in the poll does not stop there. He has increased his name recognition more than any other candidate in recent weeks: by 11 points since this time last month. Others have failed to make much impression, which will be particularly disappointing for Tim Pawlenty, who launched his campaign officially last week and is seen by many as the man most likely to take the fight to Romney.

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