When I tape a radio segment for WEAA’s AFRO/FIRST EDITION with Sean Yoes, I usually gather more information than we have time to cover. Yesterday was no exception, when I found myself with quite a bit of material on Herman Cain that we didn’t get to before time ran out.
One item was a recent column by Nate Silver, one of the country’s best pollsters, who mans the FiveThirtyEight blog at the New York Times. Silver had a very interesting take on Cain’s strong poll numbers.
No past candidate has had [Herman Cain’s] combination of strong polling and weak fundamentals. It is specious to focus on the latter condition while ignoring the former. Past “unconventional” candidates like Pat Buchanan, Pat Robertson, Jesse Jackson, Steve Forbes and Morry Taylor may not have done especially well — but this would have been predicted by their polling as well as by their fundamentals. (These candidates, in fact, generally performed about in line with their polling rather than underachieving it.) In Mr. Cain’s case, these numbers are in conflict.
In short, while I think the conventional wisdom is probably right about Mr. Cain, it is irresponsible not to account for the distinct and practical possibility (not the mere one-in-a-thousand or one-in-a-million chance) that it might be wrong.
Nate is a numbers guy, but if you look past the numbers, what you see is an unbridled sense of enthusiasm by Cain supporters that neither Romney nor Perry has been able to generate:
“He’s not Presidential. He doesn’t know who’s president of some ‘stani nation in the back of beyond. WHO CARES! Those people aren’t our friends. And they contribute not one dime, in many cases, to our way of life. Instead, they get handed money by our own damn government to go right on killing people. And then we send ‘sternly worded communiques’ to them, saying ‘you shouldn’t oughta be doing that’.
I personally don’t care who is president, premier, chancellor, emperor, chairman, or dictator for life in any other country, anywhere. Not right now. I care that 15 million American’s are struggling to make ends meet in the quagmire mess this nation is in. I care that our soldiers are being directed by an egomaniac who won the Nobel Peace Prize for. . .being elected.”
With 3 million dollars in new campaign contributions during the month of October, and more coming in, Cain has separated himself from the bottom of the field financially. His irreverent campaign ads, one with a featuring his cigarette wielding campaign manager, another with a cowboy from the Old West carrying yellow flowers, have smoked the competition, whose staid, traditional ads look stodgy and old fashioned by comparison. And he has been able to convince his supporters, despite an establishment resume that would be the envy of most corporate climbers, that he is a bona fide outsider. As the protest candidate du jour, Cain gives a voice to many among the GOP’s ranks who want to express their frustration with the Republican political establishment.
While this sentiment is unlikely to garner Cain a majority of the delegates needed to win the Republican presidential nomination, supporters like the one above will give him an enormous amount of influence in the nominating process, which does not bode well for Rick Perry. In fact, the longer the Cain Train chugs along with poll numbers that are better than Perry’s, the more likely it is that Mitt Romney will become the Republican party presidential nominee.