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Can Herman Cain keep up the momentum after his Florida straw poll win?

Herman Cain is basking in the Sunday glow of his surprise win Saturday in the Florida straw poll. But he lags in national polls, and his Florida win may draw sharper scrutiny of his positions.

By Staff writer / September 25, 2011

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain departs the stage after speaking at the Republican Party of Florida Presidency 5 Convention and Straw Poll at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando Saturday. Cain won the straw poll.



Herman Cain is basking in the Sunday glow of his surprise win Saturday in the Florida straw poll.

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But stark morning-after questions remain:

Can he keep up the momentum among his Republican rivals for the 2012 presidential nomination? Will the results of what is essentially a candidate beauty contest make any difference in the national polls, which are a much more accurate gauge of how the rivals are doing compared to each other (and to Barack Obama)? And will it mean sharper scrutiny – and pointed criticism – of his positions and policies in upcoming debates and straw poll maneuvering?

"The takeaway from Florida, that we took away, is that number one, the citizens movement is more powerful than the establishment wants to give me credit for. So yes, they keep treating me like the Rodney Dangerfield of this primary contest," Cain told Fox News Sunday.

"The voters, the people out in the field are saying we want to send a message to Washington, D.C. The establishment is not going to make this call, the people are going to make the call and that's what you saw in the Florida straw poll yesterday," he said.

Most analysts see Saturday’s unscientific Florida poll of 2,657 delegates (party activists who’d paid $175 to participate) as one blip on a long trail of debates and straw polls – and one that mainly was a rebuke of Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Perry, whose three debate performances seem to have gotten progressively worse and some of whose positions have drawn sharp critical response from party conservatives, managed to win just 15 percent of the straw poll tally compared to 37 percent for Cain. The loss was all the more troubling for the Perry camp since the Texas governor and late entry to the race had lobbied hard for delegate votes.

“Perry’s showing in the straw poll was disastrous. He was here, he worked the crowd, and it just proves that the debate performance really undermined his support,” Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio, who was at the straw poll in Orlando this weekend, told “Perry’s gotta retool, reorganize and retrench very quickly.”


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