Have Republican voters had their fill of “Black walnut ice cream,” the flavor presidential hopeful Herman Cain used to describe himself in response to charges that his recent political fortunes were because he’s the party’s latest flavor of the month? Cain at the time said that his appeal would last far longer, but according to new surveys of the first primary and caucus states released Wednesday evening, voters may finally be building an appetite for Mitt Romney.
In CNN/Time/ORC International polls, Romney is the “overwhelming frontrunner” in New Hampshire; leads Cain in Florida by 18 points; and is in a statistical tie with him in South Carolina and Iowa, with a respective — and extremely tight — two and three percent lead.
"In all four states, Cain does best among Tea Party movement supporters. In Iowa, for example, Cain beats Romney among Tea Party supporters by a 29% to 17% margin, but Romney wins among Republicans who are neutral toward the tea party or oppose it by 14 points," said CNN polling director Keating Holland. "Even in New Hampshire, where Romney wins handily among both groups, Cain's share of the vote is four times higher among tea party supporters."
The conventional wisdom is that the race is still Romney’s to lose. The former Massachusetts governor is benefitting from lessons learned during his previous White House bid and it shows in both his campaign operation and his performances in debates and on the trail. Still, Republican voters are particularly fickle this year and have yet to truly commit to one candidate for a significant period of time.
"Only about a third of all respondents in the surveys say their minds are made up," Holland said.
(Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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