Handicapping the Post-Cain GOP Field

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Republican presidential candidates arrive on stage prior to the start of the Republican presidential debate on national security November 22, 2011 at the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Constitution Hall in Washington, DC. The debate is hosted by CNN in partnership with the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. From left are: Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum; Texas Rep. Ron Paul; Texas Gov. Rick Perry; former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney; businessman Herman Cain; for House speaker Newt Gingrich; Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann; and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman. AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
One down, seven to go. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images) Photo: MANDEL NGAN/2011 AFP

So who's going to mop up all those loose Herman Cain supporters? Though Cain had recently fallen into single digits in early voting states — and close to zero in New Hampshire — that still leaves a good 8 or 9 percentage points up for grabs in Iowa. The latest NBC/Marist poll guesstimated that three points would go to Ron Paul, two to Gingrich, and one to both Romney and Texas governor Rick Perry, pushing him back into the top four and the double digits for the first time since his epic flame-out. A Des Moines Register poll released last night, however, has Minnesota representative Michele Bachmann in fourth, and she has said her campaign offices are receiving "call after call after call" from Cain supporters looking to join the cause. But since both polls were conducted prior to Cain's exit, the true divvying up will not be clear for at least a couple of days. Look for Ron Paul to solidify himself in second place over Romney (currently only the Register has him there), or for Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann to consolidate and definitively move into the top four and back into the game.