Whether Herman Cain’s surge in the polls is temporary or has staying power, he’s enjoying a big enough bounce to take a very slight lead over President Obama in a hypothetical 2012 matchup. At the moment, the Georgia businessman is the only Republican with a lead of any kind over Obama, although former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has held a similar advantage several times and is currently trailing the president by just two points.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely U.S. Voters shows Cain attracting 43% support, while Obama earns 41%. Given such a matchup, eight percent (8%) prefer some other candidate, and another eight percent (8%) are undecided.
Cain is tied with Romney for the lead in the race for the GOP presidential nomination. Nobody else is even close at the moment.
Last week, Cain trailed Obama by three. The week before, he was behind by five. “Cain now has the chance to make the case for why he should be the challenger to Mitt Romney,” says Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports. “Many others have auditioned for the role and fallen flat, and it remains to be seen whether Cain’s fate will be similar.”
Rick Perry is the only other GOP candidate to have ever held a lead against the president in this cycle. That came just as the Texas governor entered the race when he was widely perceived as the front-runner. Perry now trails Obama by double digits.
A generic Republican candidate has consistently held a modest advantage over the president. But named Republican candidates tend to perform a bit weaker against Obama.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is the only other candidate aside from Romney and Cain who earns double-digit support among likely Republican primary voters. He gets 10% backing, well behind Romney and Cain who each pick up 29% of the vote.
The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on October 14-15, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports.
Cain leads modestly among men but trails slightly among women.
Obama leads among those under 40, while Cain has the edge among those over 40. The GOP hopeful leads by 16 points among those over 65. In 2008, Republican candidate John McCain won among seniors. Since then, the president’s health care law has been very unpopular among those over 65. Most voters continue to favor its repeal.
Cain attracts only 72% of the Republican vote, while the president earns 82% support from voters in his party. However, Cain leads by 19 among those not affiliated with either major party.
The president’s Job Approval remains the best single indicator for his reelection prospects. On Election Day next year, his Job Approval rating is likely to nearly match his vote total.