Why Herman Cain Can Win

9

herman-cain1Let’s start with this basic fact: Herman Cain isn’t the most likely person to be the Republican nominee for president in 2012. That’s Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts. But, a new NBC-Wall Street Journal poll released late Wednesday suggests that – at least for the moment – a path to victory does exist for the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza.

Here’s how – in three easy data points.

1. Cain is already top-tier: Cain has surged to 27 percent in a hypothetical national primary ballot test – up from just 5 percent in an August NBC-WSJ poll. His current standing puts him on par with Romney (23 percent) and makes clear that the two men comprise the top tier in the race as of today. That Cain’s rise has been fueled almost entirely by the struggles of Texas Gov. Rick Perry (Cain went up 22 points between August and October, Perry dropped by 22 points over that same period) is a dynamic that suggests Cain is now the conservatives’ choice in the contest.

2. Cain has room to grow: Nearly one in four Republicans (23 percent) in the NBC-WSJ survey didn’t know enough about Cain to offer an opinion on him. Just six percent had no opinion of Romney and 11 percent didn’t know enough about Perry to rate him. That means that Cain – unlike either of his two main opponents – still has a ways to go until he reaches his political ceiling. Combine that with the fact that the people who know Cain really like him (52 percent have a favorable impression,while just 6 percent have a negative one) and there’s clearly room for growth there.

3. Ideology trumps electability: A near-majority (46 percent) of Republicans said the most important thing to them in a presidential nominee was “a candidate who comes closest to your views on issues” while another 33 percent said they valued the “right personal style and strong leadership qualities” in a candidate. Just 20 percent said they preferred a candidate with the best chance to beat President Obama. It’s hard to argue that Cain is positioned anywhere but to the ideological right of Romney, putting him more in line with the average primary voter. And, while it’s somewhat debateable which of the two men have the “right personal style”, Cain is clearly the more charismatic of the duo.

That a path to victory exists for Cain does not mean he will take it, however. While Cain’s rapid rise is astonishing, it remains to be seen whether he can avoid the fate of other conservative flash-in-the-pans like reality star Donald Trump, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and even Perry.

To do so, Cain has to rapidly raise money – taking advantage of the positive buzz surrounding his candidacy – and build organizations that he currently lacks in places like Iowa and New Hampshire. (Cain has begun expanding his staff of late.)

The early returns are somewhere short of promising for Cain supporters. He is set to embark today on a two-day bus tour from Memphis to Nashville, according to the Post’s Amy Gardner. A trip to Tennessee – not an early state – is not the sort of thing a candidate working to build his credibility and electability would embark on.

If Cain grasps the chance afforded to him by his meteoric rise in polling to put together a serious national campaign in the coming weeks, the NBC-WSJ poll suggests he could be a real contender for the nomination. If not, he’ll look back on this moment as a huge missed opportunity.

What a December New Hampshire primary would mean: New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner is suggesting he will set his state’s primary for early or mid-December, unless Nevada moves its caucuses from Jan. 14 to Jan. 17 or later.

And Nevada isn’t budging, with Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) telling Jon Ralston late Wednesday that Gardner is misreading his own state’s rules and could easily set the primary for Jan. 10.

But bluff-calling aside, what would a December primary mean?

Whether the Granite State’s primary is held Dec. 6 or Dec. 13, it would be held weeks before any other contest, with Iowa likely to pick Jan. 3 – an unusual set of circumstances to say the least. But it would be just another gap in an already pretty spaced-out primary season. There’s already a four-week gap between Florida on Jan. 31 and Arizona and Michigan on Feb. 28, with just a few non-binding caucuses in between.

Unlike 2008, when the primary calendar began in early January and Super Tuesday was just one month later, this year’s contest could span three months between the first contest – if New Hampshire goes with December – and Super Tuesday, which will be held March 6.

That benefits whoever can run a sustained and well-funded campaign over a period of weeks in one state, and it puts a premium on strategy for candidates who will have a lot of time to spend in the earlier states.

While 2008 was bang-bang-bang through the first month, 2012 could give campaigns – and the press – a lot longer to process what’s going on. And that benefits the smarter campaigns.

Perry blames ‘twang’ for hunting camp story: In an interview with the Des Moines Register, Perry says media like the Washington Post are anxious to attach the “racist” label to anyone with a Southern accent.

The Post recently wrote a story about a hunting camp that Perry’s family leased with a racially insensitive name.

“I think a lot of people get offended when the media elites try to paint everyone from the South who has a twang to their voice as somehow being racist,” Perry said.

In the interview, Perry also acknowledged that he needs to improve his debate performances, as his wife, Anita, has suggested.

“I agree with my wife,” he said.

{The Washington Post/Matzav.com Newscenter}

9 COMMENTS

  1. It’s hard to argue that Cain is positioned anywhere but to the ideological right of Romney, putting him more in line with the average primary voter.

    Romney wants a constitutional amendment defining marriage, Cain wants to leave it to the States. Who’s more to the right?

  2. Sorry, Rick, but Cain is right on this one.

    It’s more conservative to defend States’ rights and to let them decide, rather than to have the Federal Government ram it down their throats.

    But if you play nice, MAYBE President Cain will find a place for you in the cabinet. The latest polls don’t look too good for you (as if they ever did).

    One final note, Rick. You did pretty well in the last debate. It’s a shame nobody saw you.

  3. Mitt Romney is the best candidate the GOP got now and right NOW we should ALL back him including levin cain perry palin and as ONE party move on to defeat Obama in 2012 !!!!!!!!

  4. #4, they said the exact same thing about John McCain. Remember him? Beware of the candidate that the main stream media seems to have already coronated. Everyone thought that McCain was a solid choice, but the truth was that the liberals hated him just as much as any other Republican, and the conservatives hated him too.

    I would much rather let the process work itself out over the next several months. As much as I prefer someone like Cain, I would rather see the consensus build and solidify over time.

    It’s more than a year until the election, and there’s no time to rush. Why, even our friend Rick MIGHT have a shot, however tiny.

  5. cain seems to be right on the ball with all the interest of the general RIGHT wing population of america he has a pro israel stance and we should vote him even though hes black but i dont think he will beat obama

  6. he cant win,

    I heard him on meet the press today, he dances around questions in a very refined way.
    Class Act of guy , but not ready to be president by any stretch.

    Alteh Bucher

  7. 3. Comment from midwest anon
    Time
    October 16, 2011 at 12:31 PM

    Sorry, Rick, but Cain is right on this one.

    It’s more conservative to defend States’ rights and to let them decide, rather than to have the Federal Government ram it down their throats.

    But if you play nice, MAYBE President Cain will find a place for you in the cabinet. The latest polls don’t look too good for you (as if they ever did).

    One final note, Rick. You did pretty well in the last debate. It’s a shame nobody saw you.

    It’s more libertarian, not more conservative.

    And yes, the media does seem to hate me.

    But I don’t believe in “playing nice”. If America needs to hear it, I’ll say it. That’s why I ran roughshod over Charlie when he tried to stop me.

  8. from cains 9-9-9 stragedy it seems he’s clueless on how to run an economy and his pro israel stance is just a show to gain popularity

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