Herman Cain leads the Republican Presidential field in South Carolina and is tied for first in Florida according to two new NBC News-Marist polls out today.  In South Carolina, “the first in the South” primary, Cain has a 4 point lead over Romney among likely primary voters. From Marist:

  • 30% for Herman Cain
  • 26% for Mitt Romney
  • 9% for Rick Perry
  • 6% for Newt Gingrich
  • 5% for Ron Paul
  • 5% for Michele Bachmann
  • 2% for Rick Santorum
  • 1% for Jon Huntsman
  • Less than 1% for Gary Johnson
  • 15% are undecided

In Florida, Cain technically holds a one point lead, so the race is effectively tied between him and Romney. From Marist:

  • 32% for Herman Cain
  • 31% for Mitt Romney
  • 8% for Rick Perry
  • 6% for Ron Paul
  • 6% for Newt Gingrich
  • 2% for Michele Bachmann
  • 2% for Jon Huntsman
  • 1% for Rick Santorum
  • Less than 1% for Gary Johnson
  • 11% are undecided

This is good news for Cain and extremely bad news for Rick Perry. South Carolina will hold the first primary in the south, and it is very likely Florida will hold the second one. If Perry, a southern governor, doesn’t have a strong showing in South Carolina and Florida, most people will write him off early.

Perry has a large enough campaign war chest that theoretically could make this into a long drawn out battle for the nomination.  But for that to happen he will need to do much better than these polls are currently indicating in the early primary states that should be favorable to him.