Posted Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011, at 2:44 PM
Herman Cain - 28% (+24)
Mitt Romney - 21% (+4)
Ron Paul - 10% (-4)
Newt Gingrich - 9% (+7)
Michele Bachmann - 8% (-10)
Rick Perry - 7% (-22)
Rick Santorum - 4% (+0)
Jon Huntsman - 2% (-1)
Yes: Cain's numbers represent a 700% increase in support. This is the third Iowa poll in October in which Cain holds the lead.
B-b-b-but Cain can't possibly survive, right? (Over coffee just now, a Nevada reporter asked me the question that everyone asks about Cain: "When does the bottom fall out?") Cain has no real organization in Iowa! It's a true statement that leaves out something important -- compared to 2007, no one has a great organization in Iowa. Perry has 10 staffers, for all that's getting him. Romney has five. Tim Pawlenty had the biggest Iowa staff of any candidate, even renting out Mitt Romney's old campaign office. We know how that ended. Newt Gingrich lost his entire Iowa staff in one Week of the Long Knives, and he's improved in the polling since then. Why? Same reason that Cain's been improving. He's on TV saying the right things. And he's just announced a new hire, former Iowa GOP chairman Steve Grubbs, so he's not phoning it in.
Cain's problems might have less to do with staff and more to do with schedule. He's not blitzing Iowa to press his advantage. He's not there to explain -- oh, let's pick an example out of the ether -- his abortion stance. That's correctable.