The GOP strategists surveyed in this week’s National Journal Political Insiders Poll almost unanimously identified Mitt Romney as the most likely candidate to win the nomination, followed by Rick Perry and Herman Cain. It’s not a surpising result, even after discounting for the Romney ties of a number of those surveyed (I haven’t investigated Perry or Cain ties, but would hypothesize there are fewer in the survey; Perry has recently hired staff with more national experience, but of those, only Jim Innocenzi leaps out in the polling list). It is a result at odds with national polling showing Romney neck-and-neck with Cain.
I think the pundit class, by and large, is committing the crime of Aggravated Solipsism. They don’t find Cain plausible or acceptable; ergo, he is not plausible or acceptable to a plurality of the Republican primary electorate and ergo he cannot, under any circumstances, win.
They seem to completely ignore the part about people getting to vote. And those people, when voting, expressing a different opinion on whether or not he is plausible or acceptable.
Most of the party doesn’t want Romney as their standard bearer. We know this from the fact that Romney does all the technical aspects of politicking right — good debater, good ads, raises lots of money, strong organization, unified and relentless messaging from surrogates — and yet can’t rise any higher than 25% in polls.
And yet Cain, who does almost all of the technical things wrong, is at the same 25% and rising.
Cain could very well win the nomination, if people just want an angry old dude spouting dumbass crap as their nominee. Which is what I think the people actually want, and I’m sick of instructing them that maybe they should rest their Emotion Muscles a little bit and work out their Thinking Muscles some more.
They won’t do it.
RTWT for bonus profanity. Although I get Ace’s point, I think he is unduly influenced by the many debates he fought over the more controversial Senate candidates in 2010. On this point, I find myself siding with the conventional wisdom. Unelected Businessguy With a Plan generally ends up imploding from lack of experience campaigning and failing to recognize that the Plan will invariably attract many critics. Moreover, the presidency is not a Senate seat; voters — including GOP primary voters — set the bar higher. For all the criticism leveled at people in early caucus and primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire, their arrogance signals they take the process seriously. When push comes to shove, most do not see the presidency as an entry-level position. This is why it’s not surprising that Romney is currently tied-to-leading Cain even in more conservative arenas like Iowa and South Carolina, and is well ahead in more moderate venues like New Hampshire and Florida. It’s also why a focus group in Ohio (admittedly unscientific) likes Cain but cannot see him as president (Romney supporters note: Perry not well-liked by the group). It is one thing to tell a pollster your preference months away from an actual vote; it’s another when casting a vote you might think matters.
*Standard disclaimer: Yes, a Cain administration would be better than a second Obama administration.