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Wait, What? Herman Cain is in First Place?

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If you notice it raining locusts or the plague starting to spread, perhaps this harbinger of the Apocalypse could be counted as the first sign that the end is near.

According to a new poll by Public Policy Polling, the Pizza Guy, Herman Cain, is now in first place for the Republican presidential nomination with 30 percent of the vote. He has overtaken Mitt Romney, who slid to second place with a mere 22 percent of the electorate.

Newt Gingrich, whose campaign was all but dead weeks ago, surprisingly jumped into third place nationally, with 15 percent of the vote. Rick Perry, who was ready to proclaim himself King and Lord of the Universe a few weeks ago, moved down to fourth at 14 percent. Michele Bachmann and her crazy eyes are tied with Ron Paul for fifth place at 5 percent. Jon Hunstman (2 percent), Rick Santorum (1 percent) and Gary Johnson (less than 1 percent) bring up the rear.

The poll comes as a bit of a surprise to rational folks, who look at Herman Cain and see a cartoonish, unserious businessman whose claim to fame is overcharging people for terrible pizza. Cain's 9-9-9 plan, which I wrong assumed was a deal for nine-topping, nine-inch pizzas for $9.99 each, is one of those head-scratchingly stupid ideas that nonetheless has gained traction among this GOP electorate.

How stupid is Cain's signature plan? It raises taxes significantly on poor people and the middle class by implementing a new, nine percent sales tax on everything they buy. It also ensures that even Godfather's Pizza's minimum wage slaves pay nine percent of their income to the federal government. Godfather's CEO? He also pays nine percent...on his millions.

The plan also significantly cuts taxes on wealthy people, reducing their tax rate down to nine percent. If enacted, Cain's plan would signify the greatest transfer of wealth from the poor to the wealthy in the history of the world. In short, it is the dumbest thing ever proposed by a so-called serious candidate.

Naturally, the GOP voters are eating it up like a side of breadsticks.

Of course, national polls don't amount to much in presidential nomination contests, at least not this early. The early primary and caucus states (Iowa and New Hampshire, as well as Florida and South Carolina) will post results that significantly alter these national numbers. Until those states weigh in, I wouldn't give much thought to the national polls.

So to be safe, I checked the Iowa polls, since Iowa holds the first caucus in the nation. Guess what? The Pizza Guy leads there, too, by an identical 30 to 22 margin over Romney. Ron Paul is in third in Iowa at 10 percent, Rick Perry has 9 percent, while Gingrich and Bachmann each have 8 percent. Rick Santorum has 5 percent of Iowa's allegiance, while Huntsman and Johnson each have 1 percent.

OK, so Iowans have lost their damn mind. How about New Hampshire?

Mitt Romney leads, and leads big in New Hampshire, coming in with 38 percent of the vote. But right there in second place is Herman Cain with 20 percent of the vote. Ron Paul is in third place with 13 percent.

Apparently, the Republicans are not particularly interested in WINNING the 2012 election, because Herman Cain is about as unelectable a candidate as they could find. I suppose Rick Santorum (don't Google that name from work, please) or Michele Bachmann would be as equally disastrous, and Newt Gingrich would probably lose every state north of Georgia. But still...Herman Cain. Seriously?

Look, there are only two candidates in the race who have a chance of beating Barack Obama in the election: Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. Everyone else would get beaten like a ginger at a neo-Nazi rally. Here's why.

Mitt Romney, despite being a conservative, is not an insane conservative. He's more socially conservative than I would be comfortable with, and he's way too friendly to Wall Street to earn my vote. But, and this is a huge but, he would not be the end of the Republic if he were elected. I'm a progressive and I would be disappointed if he won...but it wouldn't be the end of the world.

Romney wouldn't torch the country the way Cain or Bachmann would. He wouldn't launch wars or set gay rights back 50 years the way Santorum would. He wouldn't nuke Iran for the hell of it, like Perry would. He'd do things I disagreed with, but he wouldn't kill the country for the funsies.

As for Ron Paul, I oppose a lot of what he would do as President. I think libertarianism is misguided in a lot of ways. However, Dr. Paul's heart is in the right place. His mind is in the right place. He is undoubtedly a patriot and would put America's interests first. I believe he would do the right thing in every situation, rather than sell out for political expediency. I think Paul could bring in a lot of voters who were promised change by Obama and got nothing like what they expected. Whether that is fair to Obama or not, it is the reality of politics in a bad economy.

And yet, the Republican Party continues to flirt with these insane people with wacky ideas. Bachmann, Perry, Donald Trump, Herman Cain? They're not qualified to be assistant dog catchers in most major cities, let alone President of the United States.

If the Tea Party people want to win, they'll quit screwing around and realize that Romney plus a Republican Congress would get them the legislation they want. If they find Romney is too liberal for their liking, then their next best bet is to throw all their support behind Ron Paul and hope for the best. The other candidates are sure losers...most in every way imaginable.

You can reach the author by email john@benzinga.com or on twitter @johndthorpe.

To comment on this (or any of my columns), visit my user page at Benzinga.

Posted-In: GOP 2012News Movers & Shakers Politics General Best of Benzinga

 

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