Herman Cain continues to surprise pollsters looking to handicap the Republican presidential field.
The radio host and former Godfather’s Pizza CEO pulled off his latest coup in a new Iowa poll out Wednesday from Public Policy Polling, in which he and Sarah Palin tied for second with 15 percent, six points shy of front-runner Mitt Romney.
PPP is a Democratic polling firm, but nonetheless its results traditionally fall mostly in line with other, nonpartisan pollsters. In a recent national CNN survey, Cain cracked into the double digits, placing fourth in the GOP field with 10 percent.
The first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses are still a long way down the road, and all polls should be taken with a heaping teaspoon of salt. Nevertheless, Cain’s recent hot streak suggests at least the potential for him to establish himself as a legitimate dark-horse candidate with the potential to stick around.
If nothing else, the survey results will likely garner him a little more press coverage, particularly at a time when most political reporters are desperate for the stalled nomination battle to pick up steam.
Cain’s strong showing in Iowa is that much more impressive given that he remains a relatively obscure political figure, particularly in comparison to more high-profile figures like Romney and Palin. Early polling results often boil down to little more than a battle of name recognition.
If Palin is removed from the equation, Romney gains five points to 26 percent, Cain inches up one point to 16 percent, and Newt Gingrich climbs three points to 15 percent.
The full list:
1) Romney: 21 percent
2) Cain: 15 percent
2) Palin: 15 percent (tied with Cain)
4) Gingrich: 12 percent
5) Michele Bachmann: 11 percent
6) Tim Pawlenty: 10 percent
7) Ron Paul: 8 percent
8) John Huntsman: 0 percent (only one respondent picked him)
Undecided: 8 percent
And what things looked like the last time PPP polled back in mid-April, when Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump had yet to officially drop out of the race:
1) Huckabee: 27 percent
2) Romney: 16 percent
3) Trump: 14 percent
4) Gingrich: 9 percent
5) Palin: 8 percent
6) Bachmann: 6 percent
6) Paul: 6 percent (tied with Bachmann)
8) Pawlenty: 5 percent