Cain makes strong showing in Iowa poll

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Herman Cain’s star is continuing to rise, according to a new Public Policy Polling poll released Wednesday that shows him tied for second place with Sarah Palin in the first-in-the-nation caucus state of Iowa.

Cain is taking the nation by storm in terms of his polling results: following the first Republican Primary debate in Greenville, South Carolina, a focus group conducted by Frank Luntz declared him the unanimous winner. He led in the most recent Daily Caller/Conservative Home Tracking Poll, and continues to lead the pack in positive intensity score in Gallup’s polling. A CNN poll released May 27 had the supposed dark horse candidate among the top five, ahead of Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, and Tim Pawlenty.

With Huckabee and Trump, who took first and third respectively in the last polling PPP did in Iowa, out of the race, Romney leads the pack of primary contenders in Iowa, despite the fact that he has made little play to compete in the state.

Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor who announced his candidacy last week in Des Moines gets only 10 percent of the vote, coming in behind Newt Gingrich and fellow Minnesotan Michele Bachmann. That may not seem like a lot, but it is double the share of the vote he had the in the last PPP poll of Iowa, where he got just 5 percent.

The Iowa Democratic Party, however, is using the poll to attack Pawlenty, as well as the Republican field as a whole.

“[O]ne thing is clear,” said Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky in a statement, “Iowa GOP voters aren’t impressed with what they’ve seen so far.”

“This poll is a hard truth to swallow for Tim Pawlenty who has invested more resources in Iowa than any of the candidates — voters are clearly rejecting Pawlenty’s ‘hard truths’ and attempts to rewrite his record as Governor of Minnesota. By announcing his candidacy in Des Moines, Pawlenty has clearly and unequivocally staked his claim in Iowa, but so far has gotten less traction in cutting into Romney’s lead than a bag of burnt popcorn,” said Dvorsky.

She also threw a jab at Mitt Romney, who has said he won’t invest a lot of energy in Iowa after his disappointing second place in 2008. Dvorsky says that Romney runs the risk of a repeat of exactly that.

“Despite investing almost no time or resources in Iowa, Mitt Romney is enjoying a strong lead,” Dvorsky said. “These numbers make Romney’s attempts to lower expectations in Iowa a tough sell. Though he may claim these are ‘lean times’ it’s hard to see how he can opt out of the Ames straw poll with such a major advantage.”
Pawlenty’s numbers aren’t necessarily as bad as Dvorsky’s statement would suggest. PPP also asked voters whom they would pick if, in caucus style voting, it came down to Mitt Romney and one of the other candidates. Romney handily beats Palin, Cain, and Bachmann, but Pawlenty gives him a run for his money – tying the frontrunner with 41 percent of the vote.

Self-identified Tea Party members appear to disagree somewhat with Iowans as a whole. Sarah Palin is still the favorite of the candidates among Tea Partiers, taking 21 percent of the vote, followed by Newt Gingrich, who gets 15 percent. Romney gets 14 percent, Cain 13 percent, and Bachmann 12 percent.

If Palin opts not to run, Tea Party votes get redistributed among Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Michele Bachmann. Herman Cain picks up only a couple percentage points, putting him in fourth. Though Cain seems to be generating a similar level of enthusiasm as the former Alaska governor, his support is apparently coming from different places.