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The PJ Tatler

by
Bryan Preston

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September 28, 2011 - 3:20 pm

The latter part of the headline is the real news here. Herman Cain has replaced Michele Bachmann in the top tier of GOP candidates.

Three September debates have shaken-up the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Herman Cain has jumped into the top tier. Rick Perry’s stumbled. Mitt Romneys holding steady.

And Michele Bachmann is hitting bottom. That’s according to a Fox News poll released Wednesday.

The new poll found Cain’s support has nearly tripled among GOP primary voters to 17 percent.

That’s up from 6 percent before this month’s debates, and puts him in what is essentially a three-way tie with Perry and Romney.

Cain has benefited not only from his debate performances, but also significant media attention after winning the Florida Republican Party’s straw poll on Saturday.

Perry now garners 19 percent, a drop of 10 percentage points from a month ago. That puts Romney back in the top spot with the support of 23 percent. Last month Romney was at 22 percent.

Newt Gingrich recovered some ground and now stands at 11 percent. Ron Paul receives the backing of 6 percent now compared to 8 percent before the September debates.

Bachmann registers 3 percent support, down from 8 percent in late August and a high of 15 percent in July.

So it stacks up like this: Romney 24, Perry 19, Cain 17. Cain has clearly benefited from his own debate performances and from Michele Bachmann’s vaccination flameout. She had one great debate performance but followed that up by wandering into the weeds. Cain has been good to great in all of them. Perry has stumbled, while Romney just hasn’t had anything deflect him from his Cylon-like plan.

Cain can also probably thank his lack of a record in office for part of his jump: While both Romney and Perry have had to defend a few things in their records, and those defenses have gotten them both engaged in attacking each other, Cain hasn’t held office and therefore has nothing to defend. His biography is amazing, so he has nothing to defend there either. Unlike the others in the top trio, Cain also hasn’t spent any time attacking fellow Republicans. He has trained all of his fire on President Obama, and that is working for him.

It seems that in the short term, any movement we see will depend on what Perry and Cain do going forward. Romney is what he is and won’t deviate much from his plan. He benefits from the weaknesses and missteps of the others. Cain has gotten voters’ attention again and needs to, first, generate money from all the positive attention he’s getting to keep his campaign alive and then, second, start locking in real support. Perry needs to improve his debate performances, do more of these one-on-ones to get his own message out there in his own words, and redirect so that he is seen firing on Obama again. Lead, and the primary voters are likely to follow.

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.
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