Posted at 02:14 PM ET, 10/10/2011

Herman Cain finished second in independent New Hampshire Poll

Herman Cainmay have ditched the Granite State campaign trail Monday in favor of selling books in Tennessee, but he is high on the minds of likely voters in the first-in-the-nation primary state.

Mitt Romney and Herman Cain share a laugh before the Republican debate in Orlando, Fla., last month. (SCOTT AUDETTE / REUTERS)

But at least one powerful party organizer doubts he has the legs to carry him through to a primary win in the state.

“Herman Cain has no organization, I don’t think he has one elected official saying they would support him,” said Fergus Cullen, former Republican Party Chairman in New Hampshire. “I appreciate the fact that he is doing well in polls, but this idea that this is some kind of real campaign is imaginary. There is no presence, there is no organization, and more to the point, there has been zero scrutiny.”

Cullen added: “I have nothing against him — he is charming and likeable. He has done well in some of the debates. But he has one of the weakest candidacies I have ever seen. He doesn’t have the infrastructure to capitalize” on.

Nonetheless, a new Harvard and St. Anselm New Hamphire Institues of Politics poll showed that the former pizza CEO coming in second to Mitt Romney, grabbing 20 percent of the vote to Romney’s 38 percent. Among tea party voters, Cain has a slight edge over Romney, 30 percent to 29 percent. Cain, who in previous debates has been a crowd favorite and standing on the outer edges of the stage, has worked his way into the inner circle for The Washington Post/Bloomberg debate on Tuesday night, which means he will have Perry and Romney on either side of him (h/t Karen Tumulty and Chief Post Political correspondent Dan Balz, who negotiated the seating arrangement with the campaigns).

The candidates will be seated at a round table instead of standing behind the lecterns on a stage, which is the typical debate set-up.

In the independent poll, taken from Oct. 2 to 6 of 648 likely voters, Ron Paul came in at 13 percent and all the other candidates, including Texas Governor Rick Perry, finished at 5 percent or less. The poll had a 4.4 percent margin of error.

The polls contains bad news for former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., who in a prior poll had 10 percent of the vote. This poll has him at just 4 percent, and Huntsman has made winning New Hampshire a bedrock of his campaign.

Cain, who is a social and fiscal conservative, has campaigned very little in New Hampshire compared to his rivals. His evangelical background would seem to be an uneasy fit for New Hampshire Republicans, who tend to focus more on economic issues.

And there’s some leftover love for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie here too (until last week, Christie was considering entering the race), though no numbers on what a Cain (who would be the first black nominee of the Republican Party) vs. Obama (the first black president) contest would look like.

By  |  02:14 PM ET, 10/10/2011

Tags:  Herman Cain, Republicans, Polls

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