WASHINGTON – Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain clocked in at fifth place in a new Gallup poll of 2012 Republican candidates, an impressive showing for the conservative radio talker who has never held elected office.
Cain, who announced his candidacy for the 2012 Republican nomination last weekend, received 8 percent of the vote from the Republicans surveyed. Ahead of him were former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (17 percent), former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (15 percent), Texas Rep. Ron Paul (10 percent) and former House speaker Newt Gingrich (9 percent).
The pizza magnate received more support than former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, whose relatively uncontroversial history has led conservative pundits to believe he has a solid chance of winning the nomination.
Last month, Cain received less than 1 percent of the GOP vote in the same Gallup survey. His surge since then can be partly explained by a strong showing in the first Republican debate and a high positive intensity score among voters who have heard of him.
The decision by former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee to bow out leaves Romney and Palin as the clear front-runners. Although Romney has announced his exploratory committee and is virtually certain to run, it’s unclear whether Palin will enter the race.
Early polls should be taken with a grain of salt, however, as the shape of the race could change drastically once the rest of the debates get going and the primaries are in full swing.
The Gallup poll surveyed 971 Republicans and Republican-leaning independent adults from May 20-24 and has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.