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?
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“This research is dramatic proof backing up the observation that people are dissatisfied with government and are looking for someone to lead us to a better day,” says Villanova political science professor Lara Brown, author of “Jockeying for the American Presidency.” She notes that even during Watergate, Gallup polls showed only 66 percent of Americans dissatisfied with the direction of the country compared with the 81 percent in the most recent poll.Skip to next paragraph
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By going to the Internet search engines and feeding in such phrases as “Herman Cain,” “Herman Cain and 9-9-9 tax plan,” “Herman Cain and electric fence comment,” voters are trying to find out who this man is, what he has said, and what he stands for. Once they do find out – as happened with Mr. Trump, Ms. Bachman, and Mr. Perry – the scrutiny leads to dissatisfaction, Professor Brown notes.
“One of the great truisms of politics is that the more that is known about candidates, the less they are liked,” says Brown. “I don’t think this should be a surprise that [Cain] has seemingly come out of nowhere, nor should people be surprised if his numbers fall off just as fast, like Donald Trump, Rick Perry, and Michele Bachmann.”
One of the compelling observations about the rise and fall of so many candidates, say Brown and others, is that the 24/7 media environment and new media – blogs, social networking, Twitter, etc. – are creating a faster “morning glory” cycle than ever.
Brown uses the term “morning glory” because back in the early 1900s, the US senator from New York, George Washington Plunkitt, used to compare reformers to the flowers that shoot up like rockets and fade at nightfall.
Brown’s Villanova colleague, political scientist Matthew Kerbel, says the Chitika research says more about Mitt Romney than Herman Cain.
“Having looked elsewhere, the Republican establishment is coming to terms with the inevitability of a Romney candidacy, but the voters – at least so far – haven't gotten the memo,” says Kerbel. “Flirtations with Trump, Bachmann, Perry, and now Cain suggest base voters are still looking to fall in love, so Romney's polling remains flat. It's likely to stay that way unless and until Romney becomes the only viable candidate standing.”
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