Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Stick a fork in Herman Cain/Herman Cain is an unstoppable juggernaut

Herman Cain is finished. There's just no coming back from the last few days. Sexual harassment accusations are bad enough, but his handling of the accusations has been abysmal. Cain doesn't seem to realize that deflecting and dodging questions doesn't make them go away, it just attracts more of them. The Republican primary voters that aren't turned off by (alleged -- though that's irrelevant at this point) sexual improprieties will be turned off by his implosion in the face of adversity. The Republican primary can be described as the result of two competing instincts: the desire to nominate someone who can win and the desire to nominate someone who isn't Mitt Romney shares the values of the base. Many Republicans seemed to think that Cain straddled that line, but now his viability as a candidate has been called into serious question, so he's out of the running. Romney's inexorable march to the White House continues apace.


Herman Cain is still going strong. Fundamentals drive elections, and base appeal drives primaries. Cain is personable, likable, reliably conservative, and gives decent debate performances. There's no accuser out there making noise, just a lot of semi-anonymous rumors being leaked to newspapers. The reaction of the typical Republican primary voter is predictable: "So what if he was accused of sexual harassment? What CEO hasn't been accused of sexual harassment? It was a long time ago, and we'll never really know what happened."

In the newspaper reporter's mind, presidential campaigns rise on the merits of their platforms and fall when scandals break. But that's rarely how it works in the real world. Remember Jeremiah Wright, the guy who was going ensure Obama never became president? Remember how Monica Lewinsky ruined Bill Clinton's political name forever? All Cain has to do is hang in there, and the strength of his connection with the values of primary voters (as well as the weakness of his opponents) will carry him through this rough patch.

1 comment: