The past five days have produced a monumental shift in momentum and polling as businessman Herman Cain has seen a dramatic rise in several polls following his last debate performance on September 22nd and his victory in the Florida straw poll on September 24th.

Report on Cain’s ascension from the AJC:

Herman Cain’s campaign has seen an undeniable jolt the last two weeks. The bigger news: the resultant dollar bills.

Cain’s Atlanta-based campaign for the Republican presidential nomination is enjoying its best stretch of the race, a streak that his team says will be reflected in campaign finance reports due next month. Friday marks the end of the third quarter and all candidates make a push to boost fundraising before showing their financials in reports due by Oct. 15.

Cain has been raising “several hundred thousand dollars a day” during the surge, spokeswoman Ellen Carmichael said.

It began last week with a strong debate performance, coupled with a poor performance by Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Cain followed that with a surprise win a closely watched Florida straw poll.

Then this week, a Fox News national poll showed Cain running in third place with 17 percent, trailing only former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (23 percent) and Perry (21). On Thursday, pollster SurveyUSA said Cain is just 2 percentage points behind Romney in Florida and 12 points ahead of Perry in the key early primary state.

All of these bumps, little and big, were interspersed with high-profile television appearances that culminate Friday night when Cain will appear on the “Tonight” show with Jay Leno.

It’s quite a change for a campaign that many had written off two weeks ago.

No doubt Cain has a long way to go if he hopes to continue this momentum. Rick Perry still retains immense popularity and remains Cain’s biggest challenge if he hopes to nip at the heels of Mitt Romney.

Perry, however, has his own troubles cropping up this week, NPR reports:

There were three key moments in last week’s Orlando, Fla., debate where Perry undercut himself. The first came when he defended his support of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants:

“If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they’ve been brought there, by no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart,” he said.

Calling people who disagree with you heartless is not a great way to win their votes. And Perry has since acknowledged that was a poor choice of words.

But that wasn’t Perry’s only problem in the Orlando debate. He also seemed unprepared when asked a predictable foreign-policy question about what he’d do if Pakistan’s nuclear weapons fell into the wrong hands:

“Well obviously, before you ever get to that point, you have to build a relationship in that region. That’s one of the things that this administration has not done. Yesterday, we found out through Adm. Mullen that Haqqani has been involved with — and that’s the terrorist group directly associated with the Pakistani country. So to have a relationship with India, to make sure that India knows that they are an ally of the United States.”

And when he tried to attack Mitt Romney with a list of well-known flip-flops, he seemed tongue-tied:

“Is it the Mitt Romney that was on the side of, against the Second Amendment before he was for the Second Amendment? Was it — was before — he was before these social programs, from the standpoint of, he was for standing up for Roe vs. Wade before he was against, verse — Roe vs. Wade?”

Perry has been his own worst enemy during the month of September and the polls are now beginning to reflect it. Once seen as the rock-ribbed conservative choice in the race, clearly voters are looking at the menu a bit further before making a final selection.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has taken some of the events in the past couple weeks to his advantage. Perry has been knocked down a couple pegs and Romney has remained relatively steady in the polls following the September debates.


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