That PPP poll (noted by Intel Dan) showing Herman Cain leading the GOP primary field is more evidence of the screwy here-you-take-it, no-you-take-it dynamic of the race. The media has spent the last couple weeks declaring Mitt Romney the inevitable nominee. But, unlike every other candidate who has ridden a wave of media attention, Romney has not seen his numbers rise.
Romney is stuck at 22 percent nationally, behind Cain's 30 percent. And the voters are very open to changing their minds:
There are indications within the poll that Cain's stay at the top could be short lived. Only 30% of his supporters are solidly committed to him with 70% saying they might still go on to support someone else. Those numbers aren't much better for Romney, who only has 31% of his supporters solidly committed, or Gingrich, who only has 34% solidly committed. The strongest base of support among the Republican front runners- even if it's shrinking- is Perry's- 48% of his remaining backers say they'll definitely vote for him. Overall 70% of Republicans are either undecided right now or open to voting for someone different than who they're with now- that signals an extremely wide open race.
The proportion of Republicans who don't want to vote for Romney seems very large and undeterred by the lack of credible alternatives. Perry has a lot of money, and it's plausible that he can improve his debating performance (which has already risen from "addled" to "near-sentient"). If Republicans aren't flocking to Romney now, it's a sign they want to give every chance for somebody else to emerge.