Ed characterized the first poll to show Herman Cain beating Barack Obama in a head-to-head match-up as a “wait and see” poll, and I’d say this new poll from Evolving Strategies falls in the same category — but it’s still another little weight on the electability side of the Herman Cain scale.
What has been said of Herman Cain over and over seems to still be true: The more people know of him, the more they like him. So it’s no wonder he’d perform well in the type of survey Evolving Strategies conducted this weekend:
Over the weekend, Evolving Strategies launched a national survey, executed by YouGov, testing each of the three GOP frontrunners (Romney, Cain and Perry) in a head-to-head match-up against President Obama. (YouGov is a well-regarded sample service, quoted by leading polling analysts like Real Clear Politics and Nate Silver of the NYT here.) It is a nationally representative, general population sample consisting of 1,000 respondents.
Most Americans outside of the media and politics have little idea who Romney is, let alone Perry or Cain. The only way to get a real sense of how each candidate might play in a general election is to introduce respondents to the candidates.
What makes our survey unique and uniquely informative is the fact that we had our respondents watch a video clip of President Obama speaking about the economy, followed by a video clip of either Romney, Perry, or Cain speaking about the economy during the last Fox debate (they also read a short, 120 word bio).
The results? Obama beat Generic Republican 41 to 36, but Perry, Romney and Cain all bested Obama. Perry received the most support of the three, with 42 percent to Obama’s 36, but Romney beat the incumbent by a wider margin, 40 to 33. Cain just narrowly edged out Obama 35 to 34.
The sample leaned a little to the left with a D/R/I of 37.4/23.3/26.8 (not all those polled fell under one of the three categories, apparently), but the breakdowns in terms of age and race are pretty accurate. No added advantage for Cain with an outsized number of senior citizens, as in the first poll Ed cited: They made up just 16.5 percent of the sample this time. That’s pretty much right on the dot: Seniors comprised 16 percent of the electorate in 2008. Blacks and Hispanics each comprised a little more than 10 percent of the sample size.
Interestingly and in contrast to Poll Position’s results, this particular poll showed Obama earning 75 percent of the black vote — with the remaining 25 percent saying they weren’t sure who they’d vote for. In other words, in this particular survey, Cain came nowhere close to garnering a third of the black vote as he says he would in the actual general election. But he picked up 47 percent of independents compared to Obama’s 17 percent, and 11 percent of Democrats crossed party lines to say they’d vote for Cain compared to just 3 percent of Republicans who said they’d vote for Obama.
The pollsters summarize: “Herman Cain can win the general — people have an open mind about him — but he needs to close the sale with those uncertain swing voters.”
To do it, he would just need greater exposure — but how’s he going to get it? Folks might tune in to debates and other campaign coverage as the primaries draw nearer, but Cain really doesn’t have much time to expand his name recognition. For that reason, he’s still a long-shot — just as Perry’s higher name ID and deep campaign coffers mean he’s not yet out of the race. Notice that, in this poll, Perry actually had the highest percentage of actual support. People like what they see of the Texas governor, too, even if they’re underwhelmed by his performance at the podium (or table).