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Herman Cain: How the recent Web buzz fits this year's GOP pattern.

New research shows that the meteoric rise by Herman Cain in the polls has been mirrored by a surge in Internet search traffic, even bypassing that for Sarah Palin. But will it last?

By Daniel B. WoodStaff writer / October 24, 2011

Presidential candidate Herman Cain applauds as he waits to speak at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition's Presidential Forum at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa on Saturday. Republicans Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann took veiled swipes at surging presidential rival Cain on Saturday as six of the party's White House hopefuls courted social conservatives at an Iowa forum.

Brian C. Frank/Reuters

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Question: What do you get when you mix 81 percent disapproval (in a recent Gallup poll) of the direction the country is headed with the current crop of GOP hopefuls?

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Answer: Candidates that come out of nowhere to lead the pack, most of whom fizzle in record time.

That’s the consensus of analysts looking at research released Monday by Chitika Insights, the research arm of the Westborough, Mass.-based online ad network, Chitika.

By monitoring the online search traffic from search engines Google, Bing, Yahoo, and others, Chitika’s researchers have chronicled the dramatic web-based surge of interest in Herman Cain alongside the equally dramatic falloff of interest in Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

“Six weeks ago, the former Godfather Pizza CEO was a relative unknown and garnered only about 2 percent of the search traffic,” Chitika said in its release. “However, since Cain surprised the political world with his win of the Florida straw poll, his momentum has been unabated, and is now tied with Mitt Romney for the lead on realclearpolitics.com.”

The study was done from Oct. 14 through Oct. 20. According to study author Joseph Regan, the two key findings are:

• Mr. Cain garnered 53 percent of Web searches covering the Republican primary candidates. This is a sharp increase from the 2 percent he received just six weeks ago.

• Cain now elicits a higher volume of searches than does Sarah Palin, a feat none of the other candidates managed in previous samples.

If this sounds like an expected reflection of the poll numbers that Cain’s turnaround has engendered, that’s true, analysts say. But coupled with the quick rise and falloff of other front-runners – including Donald Trump, Michele Bachman, and Rick Perry – a compelling pattern is emerging that tells us some interesting context for election 2012.

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