Herman Cain is getting pretty close to being something more than the flavor of the month. PPP's newest polls find him with a double digit lead in Wisconsin, and running only a point behind Mitt Romney in Nevada. This now makes 4 weeks in a row where Cain's been on the top of our polls- in 9 surveys we've conducted over that period of time he's held the lead in 8 with this Nevada poll serving as the only exception.
In Wisconsin Cain's at 30% to 18% for Romney, 12% each for Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry, 8% for Ron Paul, 5% for Michele Bachmann, 2% for Rick Santorum, and 1% each for Jon Huntsman and Gary Johnson.
In Nevada Romney's at 29% to 28% for Cain, 15% for Gingrich, 7% for Paul, 6% for Perry, 3% for Bachmann, 2% for Santorum and Huntsman, and 0% for Johnson.
Cain's numbers continue to represent a huge amount of momentum. He's gained 21 points from late July in Nevada, when he was at 7%. And he's gained 23 points from mid-August in Wisconsin where he was also at 7%. It's the Tea Party that continues to drive Cain's support. He's up 37-19 on Romney with those voters in Nevada with Gingrich in second at 20%. And in Wisconsin he gets 37% with them as well with Gingrich at 17%, Perry at 12%, and Romney all the way back in a tie for 4th with Ron Paul at 8%.
One thing that does remain a problem for Cain is that his voters are not strongly committed- only 41% in Nevada say that they'll definitely vote for him, compared to 59% of Romney's supporters who say they're all in. And in Wisconsin just 29% of his voters say they're firmly in his camp compared to 34% for Romney. Cain's support is broad at this point- but it's not deep.
One other note on Cain- he may be within a point of Romney in Nevada on a poll but since his campaign doesn't really appear to have any organization it's unlikely he would come that close to Romney in the caucus- Romney will have an actual organization making sure his people get out to the polls, while it looks like Cain probably won't.
Besides Cain the other candidate in the race who continues to quietly have some momentum is Newt Gingrich. He finishes a solo third in Nevada and ties for third in Wisconsin but beyond that the shift in his favorability numbers over the last 5 months tells quite a story. In May Gingrich was at a -21 spread (28/49) with Wisconsin Republicans. Now he's at +12 (50/38) representing a 33 point improvement over that period of time. His 12% support in Wisconsin is up from 6% in August and his 15% in Nevada is up from 6% in July.
Just as Cain and Gingrich continue to rise, Rick Perry continues to fall. He's dropped 8 points from 20% to 12% in Wisconsin and he's gone down 12 points from 18% to 6% in Nevada. More striking than his decline in horse race support is his favorability numbers- in Wisconsin he's at a bad 36/40 but in Nevada he's at an even worse 25/59. We're getting to a point where it's not just that Republicans aren't planning to vote for Perry- they just flat out don't like him. His numbers are strongly reminiscent of where Gingrich's were in May and June. It took Newt 4 or 5 months to recover from that and if it takes Perry 4 or 5 months to recover he'll already be done.
Romney's story continues to be stability. In Nevada he was at 31% in January, 24% in April, back to 31% in July, and now at 29%. In Wisconsin he was at 12% in March, 17% in May, 13% in August, and now 18% in October. The cast of characters around him has risen and fallen dramatically over the course of the year but he's stayed basically in the same range the whole time. The question for him becomes when- if ever- he's going to be able to build on this solid but not significant amount of support he has.
Michele Bachmann's well on her way to being as irrelevant as Rick Santorum, Gary Johnson, and Jon Huntsman. In Nevada she gets only 3%...and in Wisconsin, where she was tied for the lead at 20% the last time we polled, she's all the way down to 5%.
Full results here