WASHINGTON – Pizza mogul Herman Cain is tied with Sarah Palin for 2nd place in a new poll of Iowa Republican primary voters, a testament to the star power of the relatively unknown presidential candidate.
Cain and former Alaska governor Palin each had 15 percent support in a Public Policy Polling survey released Wednesday, trailing former Massachusetts governor Romney who had 21 percent. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich came 4th with 12 percent, and Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN) 5th with 11 percent.
Behind them were Tim Pawlenty (10 percent), Ron Paul (8 percent) and Jon Huntsman with 0 percent as only one respond of the 481 chose him. An additional 8 percent backed someone else or hadn’t decided.
Cain, a staunch conservative who has been recruiting the support of tea party activists, came 5th among Republican primary voters in a national Gallup poll last week. Six weeks ago he received just 1 percent support in the same survey.
The surge by the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza — who has never held elected office — reflects just how wide open the 2012 Republican presidential field remains. He and Palin (who has not yet announced her intentions) appear to have been the main beneficiaries of Huckabee’s decision not to run, after he won the Iowa caucuses in 2008.
The Iowa GOP electorate is an imperfect representation of Republicans nationally but, being the first primary, the state’s voters can have an important effect on a candidate’s campaign.
The Democratic-affiliated Public Policy Polling survey spoke to 481 “usual Iowa Republican primary voters” over the phone between May 27-30 and has a margin or error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.