Former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain' s star has been rising, primrarily due to his unconventional tax plan, and a new poll by The Wall Street Journal/NBC found that he has taken the lead for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination away from former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
In the poll, 27 percent of Republican primary voters picked him as their first choice for nomination, a jump of 22 percentage points from six weeks ago, The Journal reported.
Romney is solidly in second place at 23 percent -- the same number as a previous Journal poll in late August. Perry dropped to 16 percent from 38 percent in August.
The poll of 1,000 adults, conducted from Oct. 6-10, comes as many Republican donors and officials have begun to rally around Romney as the party's likely nominee, who was also backed Tuesday by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
In Tuesday's debate, Romney bested all challengers on substance, but Cain finished a close second, and shared the spotlight. Texas Gov. Rick Perry did not show enough to remove doubts about his experience or ability to lead at the national level. The GOP debate, at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., focused on the economy.
A pre-debate poll of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents by the debate co-sponsors found that Cain had pulled almost even with Romney in appeal as an economic leader.
Although the consensus among both Democratic and Republican strategists was that Romney won Tuesday's debate, not all political analysts saw it that way. GOP Strategist Mark McKinnon declared Cain the victor in Tuesday's debte because his 9-9-9 tax plan was the primary focus for much of the evening.
When a debate spends about a third of the time debating your plan, you win, McKinnon wrote for The Daily Beast. The guy who is in the spotlight right now, the guy who has launched himself to the top tier of most polls, the guy who got most of the questions, the guy who spent most of the night talking about his plan or answering questions or attacks on his plan, is the guy who won.
People should start taking him seriously. If he's not president, he could be vice president. Or bet the under and just start calling him Mr. Secretary, McKinnon added.