Polling this week indicates that at the moment Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain has a better chance of defeating the president than Mitt Romney.
A new Rasmussen poll shows that in a head-to-head matchup for the presidency, Cain leads President Barack Obama 43 to 41 percent.
Perhaps more importantly, a second Rasmussen poll shows GOP contender Mitt Romney trailing Obama 43 to 42 percent.
But in a third poll, both Cain and Romney lose to a “generic” Republican candidate, who would theoretically garner 47 percent national support compared to Obama's 43 percent. It is an indication that the GOP electorate is still substantially undecided on a presidential candidate. Experts also note Cain's lead could actually be a tie when the +/- 2 percent margin of error is applied.
Cain, possibly influenced by the poll, is waging a more aggressive attack against Romney. In CNN interviews prior to last night's Nevada debate, Cain said that the former Massachusetts governor is not a "true conservative." He also distinguished his business experience and relatable persona from Romney, stating that he was a main street CEO while Romney is a Wall Street CEO.
Many disaffected Americans are currently protesting greedy Wall Street CEOs in the "Occupy Wall Street" protests.
The televised dig is a visible break from the cordial relationship that has existed between the two candidates. During an August debate, Romney battled Texas Governor Rick Perry saying, "I respect the other people in this race, but I think the only other person who has that kind of extensive private sector experience besides me in the Republican race is Herman Cain."
In the fourth debate, Romney and Cain remained cordial towards each other despite Cain's then rising poll numbers. But Cain used the question round to get a dig in on the complexity of Romney's 59-point economic recovery plan.
Now that Cain is rising to the top of GOP polls, he is fielding increasing scrutiny.
During the Tuesday night CNN debate, candidates fiercely attacked Cain’s 9-9-9 tax reform plan. Cain’s plan hopes to replace the current tax code with a flat 9 percent corporate tax, a 9 percent income tax and a 9 percent sales tax.
Romney grilled Cain on the plan’s proposed sales tax, insisting three times that the plan would add a new federal sales tax on top of local sales taxes. Perry, too, charged that a 9 percent tax would not “fly” in states like New Hampshire where there is no local sales tax.
Santorum argued, “Reports are now out that 84 percent of Americans would pay more taxes under his plan.” That analysis was conducted by the Tax Policy Center.
Cain stumbled in his explanation of the plan, stating that Romney and others were comparing “apples and oranges.”
He unwittingly admitted, “You’re going to pay the state sales tax no matter what. Whether you throw out the existing code and put in our plan, you’re still going to pay that (local sales taxes). That’s apples and oranges.”
During the Values Voter Summit, Cain said he felt the target on his back about his 9-9-9 tax plan.
The plan also has been scrutinized by the press. Both The Washington Times and Bloomberg assert that 9-9-9 creates less revenue than the current tax code. The Washington Times projected that the plan would raise $1.8 trillion; Bloomberg said the plan could raise no more than $2 trillion.
The government currently takes in $2.16 trillion in taxes, according to Politifact.
Cain defended his plan during the Values Voter Summit and again during the Washington Post-Bloomberg round table debate, stating that those attempts were "incorrect" because "they start with assumptions we don't make." He went on to explain that 9-9-9 will be replacing the current tax code and drawing from a broader tax base.
In the fourth debate, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum said the main problem with Cain's plan is it cannot pass Congress. Bachmann lightly criticized the plan's new federal sales tax, joking about turning 9-9-9 upside down to form "666."
"When you take the 9-9-9 plan and you turn it upside down, I think the devil's in the details," she stated.