Wednesday, November 2, 2011
As we enter November, Mr. Cain still leads, but things are tightening up for Third place.
Mr. Perry stood at 11.1% nationally and 190 delegates (pretty stable,) Mr. Gingrich was at 10.9% nationally and is up to 174 delegates. Mr. Gingrich has the biggest increase for the week. Dr. Paul stood at 11 and a half per cent of the popular vote and is at 149 delegates, (a slight increase.) Everybody else is down below 5% and below 25 delegates. So in summary the two front runners lose some ground. Mr. Romney lost more than Mr. Cain and the race for third place is becoming tight.
Despite the excitement, there were not too many national polls, but on the state level, Mr. Romney kept pace by either winning these polls or by at least making most of the states polled close. On a regional level, Mr. Romney lost the most ground in the west while keeping his loses minimal in the South and Midwest. Mr. Cain experienced no significant regional shift. Dr. Paul was flat in the South, but gained a little elsewhere in the country. Mr. Gingrich’s gains did not vary much across the country and Mr. Perry was essentially flat throughout the country.
A week ago, Mr. Cain had just finished making a few gaffs. As a result, many predicted that he would slip in the polls. Ironically, his slip was very slight and not quite as much as Mr. Romney’s slip who fell slightly below the artificial 25% ceiling. So perhaps Mr. Cain is the flavor of two months instead of the ‘month.’ Time will tell whether the latest sexual allegation will make him slip or will actually strengthen him. The rise of Mr. Cain over the past few months is an interesting phenomenon. Of the new Big 3, (assuming Mr. Perry is still # 3) Mr. Cain’s persona is in between the other two. Mr. Romney the Pro-establishment candidate, Mr. Perry, the anti-establishment candidate and Mr. Cain fit in neither category easily. And even though Mr. Perry might not be as Conservative as his persona suggests, Mr. Cain is viewed as the mainstream Conservative between the two or the gentle Conservative. Arguably, Mr. Pawlenty used to be viewed like that. Mr. Pawlenty was essentially in the Conservative camp, but he never gave firebrand speeches, so he was know as the quiet Conservatives. He certainly was not moderate enough for the Moderates (though he was the next best thing in their minds.) On the other hand, he failed to excite Conservatives.
So why is Mr. Cain doing so much better than Mr. Pawlenty was despite the fact that Mr. Pawlenty has more experience and is arguably more Conservative? I for one think it has little to do with race. Despite making a few gaffs, Mr. Cain is a very powerful speaker and has charisma. Many people are willing to overlook Mr. Cain’s gaffs because they like the rest of what he says. Whereas Mr. Pawlenty was too boring to pay attention too. Furthermore, Mr. Cain is more likable. Mr. Pawlenty had made snarky remarks against Mr. Palin, Mr. Romney and Mrs. Bachamann at one point or another and this did not sit with even the fair-weather fans of these camps. Meanwhile, if Mr. Cain is going to insult anybody, he does it with humor. Finally, Mr. Cain is probably doing well by default. He does not have many challengers remaining to the right of him. While Mr. Perry excites some on the right or at least is tolerable to many on the Right, many are fed up with his poor attitude during the debates and others cannot forgive him for either his mandates or his immigration policies. Dr. Paul is a bit too extreme and the others are not strong candidates at this point.
It will be interesting to find out how these sexual allegations effect Mr. Cain. For the record, I doubt they are true. At the same time I also doubt that Mr. Romney, Mr. Perry or any of their underlings are responsible for bringing this to light. The mere hint that they would be behind this news story would most likely be rather damaging. Mr. Cain has already raised a lot of money of the allegations. This suggests that negative attention is better than no attention at all. Many think that if Mr. Cain implodes because of this or any other reason, his supporters will go to Mr. Perry (where many of them came from. I suspect that most would not go to either. They would probably be dispersed in various directions.
The anti-Romneyites think that Mr. Romney cannot crack 25%. On the other hand, some think that Mr. Romney could get about 90% when the dust settles. The truth is somewhere in the middle, but where in the middle is the question. Mr. Romney has shown that it is possible to crack 25%, but staying there appears to be difficult. For better or worse, most people look at Mr. Romney in neutral terms unlike most of us in the blogosphere. While he has a loyal core of supporters and a portion of people who likely won’t support him, favorability ratings suggest that many are somewhat in between. So this is both a blessing and a curse for him. As candidates eventually drop out of the race, no doubt Mr. Romney’s numbers will increase somewhat, but as to whether this increase will keep pace with the remaining candidates, time will tell.
This past week has been a little difficult for him because of his Ohio gaff. The gaff might have been a minor one, but he ended up angering both the establishment and grass roots of Ohio at the same time, quite a feet. Ironically, Mr. Cain gaffs the week prior were attributed to lack of thinking. Some suspect that Mr. Romney’s gaff was cause by thinking to much before he spoke. To Mr. Romney’s credit, he clarified his position the very same day. This was probably satisfactory to the party elite and many will end up endorsing him, but the fact that a clarification was needed reinforced his image as a flipper and panderer. Since this was a minor gaff and essentially only Ohioans and those in neighboring states paid attention to this episode, this gaff is probably not going to be fatal. However, it was probably a wake up call nevertheless.
As of now, it still looks like Mr. Cain will be the non-Romney (not necessarily the anti-Romney candidate per se,) but if he implodes (contrary to current polling) another candidate will likely emerge from the bunch. In fact, many argue that Mr. Perry or even somebody else could mount a better challenge to Mr. Romney then Mr. Cain. While this argument has merit, in the end, Mr. Cain is probably in the strongest position to challenge Mr. Romney. To be sure, Mr. Cain has some challenges. The fact that Mr. Cain is to the Left of Mrs. Bachmann, Dr. Paul and Mr. Santorum makes it difficult for Conservatives to hop on the Cain train. Sure, Mr. Cain can argue that he has a better chance of defeating Mr. Romney than anybody else, but a large portion of the anit-Romney (or non-Romney block) wants to vote for a candidate, not just Romney-lite. So Mr. Cain will have to be Right enough to attract those who are a little more Conservative, but not go to far in order to keep those who straddle the line between Mainstream Conservatism and moderateism. The other candidates will have a more difficult time getting these voters. And as mentioned before, let’s just say that most people find Mr. Cain more likable than Mr. Perry. Sure few voters vote only on likability, but it is a factor. And to a degree, Mr. Perry has himself to blame for his poor favorability ratings. So the fun continues.