(Photo: REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst)
Former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain continues to rise in polls of potential Republican voters. In the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, Cain is at 27 percent, a 4-point lead within the margin of error, over Mitt Romney. Cain's gains come mostly at the expense of Rick Perry, whose support has quickly dwindled.
In the same poll taken six weeks ago, Cain was only at 5 percent, while Texas Gov. Perry was at 38 percent. Cain gained 22 points at the same time that Perry dropped 22 points and now stands at 16 percent. Former Massachusetts Gov. Romney's support remained steady at 23 percent.
Cain is known for his likable personality and positive attitude. He has little political experience. Cain chaired the Kansas City Federal Reserve Board, a part-time advisory position, and he ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate. He touts his inexperience as a positive, though, saying the nation needs a “problem-solver,” not a politician.
Cain has a simple, easy to understand, economic plan called “9-9-9.” It would abolish the current tax code and replace it with a 9 percent income tax with only charitable deductions, 9 percent corporate tax and 9 percent sales tax.
The 9-9-9 plan was attacked by other Republican presidential candidates at Tuesday night's debate in New Hampshire. Some were concerned about opening a new revenue stream, the national sales tax, without getting rid of the income tax. Over time, Congress could raise the sales tax above 9 percent, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann argued.
Others implied that the plan is more of a marketing gimmick than a serious plan. The 9-9-9 plan is “a catchy phrase. I thought it was the price of a pizza when I first heard it,” former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. joked.
The poll of 1,000 voters included 336 likely Republican primary voters. Since Cain's lead is within the 5.35 percent margin of error, the race between him and Romney is too close to call.
Texas Congressman Ron Paul is in fourth place with 11 percent, followed by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (8 percent), Bachmann (5 percent), Huntsman (3 percent) and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (1 percent).
The poll was conducted Oct. 6-10, before Tuesday's debate.