Florida poll has Romney 28, Cain 24, and Perry fourth with 9
Can Rick Perry stop the bleeding before his campaign implodes?
If this new Florida poll is any indication, he is getting close to irrelevancy:
Debates matter. So did Florida's straw poll. Just ask two guys: Herman Cain and Rick Perry.
Cain is now running in second place in Florida now that his support surged nearly 19 percentage points after last month's Republican Party of Florida's Presidency 5 debate and straw poll, according to a survey of likely Florida voters conducted by Gainesville-based War Room Logistics, which typically polls for Republicans.
Meantime, Perry's support plummeted nearly 16 percentage points.
Perry had been tied as a Florida frontrunner with Mitt Romney at about 25 percent on Sept. 20, dropped to third/fourth place with 9 percent of the vote where he's statistically tied with Newt Gingrich (10 percent).
Romney's support grew a modest 3 percentage points, to 28 percent.
Romney also remains the best general-election candidate against President Obama, according to the poll. Romney trails him 42-48 - the smallest margin. Against all the other Republican candidates, Obama cracks the magic 50 percent threshold.
The War Room Logistics surveys have been unlike any other in Florida because they're based on a sample of likely voters, instead of just registered voters. Around now, it's more common (and cheaper) to poll registered voters because the campaigns aren't in full swing and it's a little tougher to estimate the likely voter population.
And since the numbers swung so wildly in just 10 days, it's a safe bet to say this is anyone's game right now. Though it's not just a two-man race. Herman Cain is a force to be reckoned with.
Extreme volatility in the GOP race means that Perry is far from being out of it. But he has to get on top of the multiplying scandals and gaffes that have stopped his momentum and set him back.
As for Cain, he has upped his game now that national attention has been focused on him. His public appearances have gone well and he has been more careful in his contacts with the press. This is a sign that he has learned from his earlier mistakes and has become more circumspect in his dealings with the media.
The question about Cain now is where is his strategy? Does he go all out in Iowa? Does he challenge Romney in New Hampshire? Or does he make a supreme effort in South Carolina or Florida hoping for momentum going into the bulk of the primaries? Or is there some other path to the nomination?
He has the advantage now of being able to choose his own road. That's an enviable position to be in.