It’s official: Herman Cain (aka “The Black Steve Forbes,” according to a colleague of mine) is a legitimate part of the Republican presidential primary race.
Up until now I simply saw him as the beneficiary of the implosion of Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Michelle Bachmann. Simply put, conservatives wanted someone they can vote for. All along though, I never thought he had a legitimate chance of winning the nomination, and I still don’t. However, if a recent CNN poll of likely Republican voters is to be believed, or is reinforced by other polls, he has managed to change the race on the most important issue of them all: the economy.
A recent CNN poll shows that Republican voters now trust Herman Cain more than Mitt Romney to fix the economy. This is a serious problem for Romney, maybe not so much in the nomination but in the general election. A closer look at the poll shows the former Massachusetts governor still hovering around 27-30% in every category, including likability, and whether or not his views are similar to theirs.
In fact, the only area where he is scoring in front-runner numbers (51%) is the question of who do voters think will win the nomination. However the most damning figure is on the economy, where now a majority of Republican voters (34%) believe that Herman Cain would do a better job of getting the economy moving than Mitt Romney. It’s already a given that a Romney nomination would be the second choice of many Republicans when it comes to values, passion or issue discipline, but the one thing Romney had going for him was his perceived strength on the economy. If he leaves the primary looking like the second choice in that area, with his own base, I don’t see how he’ll be able to make a credible charge with independents in the general.
This article originally appeared on Politic365.com.