NBC/WSJ poll: Herman Cain tops GOP field, federal government not working and country headed in wrong direction

October 13, 2011

Herman Cain

By Brandon Reid
Assistant Editor

Herman Cain, whose “9-9-9” plan to overhaul the current tax code appears to be resonating with voters, has taken the lead in the most recent GOP presidential nominee poll.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Oct. 12 shows Cain at 27 percent, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at 23 percent, Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 16 percent, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) at 11 percent, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich at 8 percent, U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) at 5 percent, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman at 3 percent and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) at 1 percent.

Former frontrunner Perry has dropped 20 percentage points since late August. In that poll, Perry led the field at 38 percent, Romney was at 23 percent and Cain was at 5 percent.

The most recent October poll was conducted by Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart and Republican pollster Bill McInturff.

Cain is the leader … that’s the story,” Hart said in an MSNBC report.

However, in the same MSNBC report, McInturff cautioned, “There is still a long, long, long time to go” until the 2012 primaries. The Iowa caucuses will kick off the primary season in early January 2012.

Previous polls have shown the rocky GOP field has been led by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll), Donald Trump, Bachmann and Perry.

The new October poll was released one day after Romney received the endorsement of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Some have speculated that if he wins his party’s nomination, Romney would select Christie as his running mate.

Cain, 65, is the former chairman and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza. He also served as deputy chairman and chairman of the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

From Sandy Springs, Ga., Cain is also a syndicated columnist and radio host and serves as associate minister at Antioch Baptist Church North.

Prior to his business career, Cain was a civilian employee of the U.S. Navy, serving as a mathematician in ballistics.

Cain’s “9-9-9” plan to overhaul the federal tax code drew increased attention following an Oct. 11 Republican debate. Under the “9-9-9” plan, Cain would propose to replace a majority of the federal tax code with a 9 percent income tax, a 9 percent corporate tax and a 9 percent federal sales tax. However, as detailed Oct. 13 by the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler in his “The Fact Checker” blog, the simplistic presentation of the plan could be misleading:

On paper, the first two look like cuts, because payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare (now nearly 15 percent, including corporate contributions) would be repealed. The sales tax would be new, on top of existing state sales taxes.

But note that we said the ‘9-9-9’ would happen eventually — and then only temporarily,” Kessler continued. “That’s because it is only the second step of a planned three-step process. The first step would cut individual and corporate tax rates to a top 25 percent rate (down from a current high of 35 percent). Then the final step would replace all of the taxes — even the 9s — with a national sales tax, known by proponents as a ‘Fair Tax.’”

With regard to the 2012 election, the new poll also showed 44 percent would probably vote for President Barack Obama while 42 percent would probably vote for the Republican candidate.

Meantime, in head-to-head matchups, the poll showed Romney as having the best chance against Obama, only trailing 46-44 percent. Cain, the new frontrunner, was outpaced 49-38 percent by Obama, and Perry trailed Obama 51-39 percent.

With regard to voter enthusiasm, the poll showed 50 percent believed they would be more enthusiastic about the 2012 elections than previous elections, 38 percent less enthusiastic and 11 percent the same.

Aside from the election, the poll also showed 47 percent believe the federal government is not working well and needs reform; 35 percent believe it is unhealthy and stagnant; 17 percent believe it is OK and needs only small reform; and 1 percent believe it is healthy, vibrant and working well.

Furthermore, 74 percent believe things in the nation are generally headed off on the wrong track, while 17 percent believe the nation is headed in the right direction.

The poll showed President Obama’s approval rating remains at 44 percent, with 51 percent disapproving and 5 percent not sure. Fifty-seven percent disapprove of the job Obama is doing in handling the economy, while 39 percent approve. With regard to the war on terrorism, 61 percent approve of the job Obama is doing and 33 percent disapprove.

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