Can Herman Cain actually win the GOP nomination?
Herman Cain continues to run strong in polls of Republican voters nationwide and in key states. So why do experts still say he's a long shot for the GOP nomination? Organization and experience.
(Page 2 of 2)
“He has to win Iowa; I think that’s the real key,” says Ford O’Connell, chairman of the conservative Civic Forum PAC. “Should he win Iowa, people will show him how to build a national organization.”Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures The Hermanator Experience
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Still, Mr. O’Connell believes it’s “extremely unlikely” that Cain will go on to win the nomination, “given his lack of organization and campaign resources.”
In the third quarter of 2011, Cain raised $2.8 million, versus Romney’s $14 million and Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s $17 million. But Governor Perry has sunk in the polls after a series of sub-par debate performances, and Cain has been the direct beneficiary. He won the Florida straw poll a month ago and has been a top-tier contender ever since, at least in the polls.
Romney is the only candidate who combines good poll numbers, major-league fundraising, and extensive organization. But he seems to have hit a ceiling in national polls in the mid-20s. Whether he can break through that ceiling is an open question. If voters continue to resist him, the question is who will emerge as the “anti-Romney” – and when will that alternative become clear.
Cain is certainly in the running to be the one who goes head-to-head against the establishment-backed Romney, but a lot of analysts are still looking to Governor Perry – who has the more typical résumé for a presidential candidate – to ultimately fill that role.
Cain has plenty of tea party support to fuel his outsider status, though not all tea partyers support him. Some object to his having served as chairman of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank earlier in his career; they also didn’t like his favorable comment during the Oct. 11 debate about former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan.
The real question about Cain is whether he can convince enough voters that he is running a serious campaign – and that his lack of political and policy experience wouldn’t put him at a insurmountable disadvantage against President Obama in the general election.
He recently has committed a series of gaffes that make political observers wonder whether he has given this campaign enough thought to be successful. He calls himself “pro-life,” but then described abortion as a personal “choice” that should not involve the government. Last week, he said he would consider freeing all the prisoners in the Guantánamo Bay prison camp in exchange for a hypothetical US hostage. He didn’t know what “neoconservative” meant in a discussion on foreign policy.
“He’s a tremendously charming, capable guy, but he doesn’t seem to be a serious candidate,” says Dennis Goldford, a political scientist at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. “He hasn’t taken the time to build an organization or think through in depth the range of issues and policies he’d have to address.”
Other analysts point to the one commodity Cain has that is lacking in the other candidates: an idea that got people talking, his 9-9-9 tax plan. Perry did raise an impressive sum of money in the third quarter, but the history of campaigns is littered with fundraising stars who go nowhere when the voters have their say.
“The power of an idea in this primary is very important,” says Republican pollster David Winston. “Cain has proven that. Whether his idea will stand up to vetting, we’ll find out.”
Grubbs, Cain’s man in Iowa, maintains that Iowans will be seeing a lot more of Cain in coming weeks. And, he adds, Cain’s book tour, which critics said was distracting from his campaign, is over. “He’s campaigning,” he says.
Get daily or weekly updates from CSMonitor.com delivered to your inbox. Sign up today.