Polls and Predictions

elections, Republican Party

If you can stand another post about Herman Cain this morning — Nate Silver has a post about Cain’s chances for winning the nomination.

If all you had to go on was the polls, you might think that Mr. Cain was the favorite to win the Republican nomination.

But then there are the nonpolling factors, some of which can be objectively measured and some of which cannot, but which would generally point toward Mr. Cain as being a second- or third-tier candidate. Mr. Cain has no endorsements from Republican members of Congress or Republican governors, and very few from officials in key early voting states. He has raised very little money. He has not hired well-known names for his campaign staff. He does not have traditional credentials. He has run for elected office just once before. He has begun to get a fair amount of media coverage, but the tenor of it has been fairly skeptical. His campaign commercials have been … interesting.

Has there ever been a candidate with such strong polling but such weak fundamentals? Almost certainly not, at least not at this relatively advanced stage of the race.

I’m just speculating here, but what this might be telling us is that endorsements and positive media coverage may mean much less to the Republican voting base than it used to.

According to (don’t click if you’re at work) this video, Cain coverage has been dominating Fox News lately. This is not all good coverage, mind you, but Fox viewers sure as heck have seen a lot of Cain.

Recently Karl Rove did a takedown of Cain on Fox News that was supposed to be devastating. Politico ran a headline about it that said “Karl Rove sticks a fork in Herman Cain.” I did a quick survey of rightie blog reaction to this, and I saw not one post or comment that agreed with Rove; most just yelled at him to get off the lawn, so to speak. Rove appears to have no authority at all with the base.

On the other hand, I take it Rush is still promoting Cain, who is running ads on Rush’s show.

Nate says you can find examples of candidates with strong “fundamentals” (endorsements; the support of the establishment) and weak polling. One example that comes to mind was Haley Barbour, whom the GOP establishment and bobbleheads kept promoting as a real contender, but the base ignored him. But it’s unprecedented, at this point in the campaign cycle, to have a candidate who is polling this strongly but whose fundamentals are next to zilch.

Would the Republican voters nominate a black candidate? I’ve said for some time that the dynamics of racism on the Right are more complicated than they were when Lester Maddox and his axe handle ran for governor of Georgia on a segregation platform. The wingnuts might vote for a black candidate who (a) assures them they are not really racists, like those liberals keep saying; and (b) is not likely to come anywhere near their womenfolk.

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  1. twtfltrd  •  Oct 27, 2011 @12:38 pm

    “Would the Republican voters nominate a black candidate?”

    Hell no. Cain and Bachmann are there for one reason only, everyone knows the republicant party is the party of old white guy’s, Cain and Bachman are just diversifying the debate stage. They stand as much chance getting the republicant nomination as Barney Frank would. Once the regular campaign starts and the GOP revert to the southern-anti-women strategy they will deflect the criticism with: hey we had Cain and Bachman. It’s just more window dressing, rebranding of the GOP, sort of like the “Tea Party”.

  2. Stephen Stralka  •  Oct 27, 2011 @1:22 pm

    I overheard a wingnut talking to another wingnut about Herman Cain at the light rail stop yesterday. These guys did not perceive Herman Cain as having weak fundamentals. The guy who did most of the talking was explaining to his friend (who readily agreed) that the media (“except Fox, of course”) is trying to tear Herman Cain down because Herman Cain is, in some sense that I’m still trying to figure out, a particularly strong candidate. (That Herman Cain is strong was simply asserted and accepted without comment.)

  3. Felicity  •  Oct 27, 2011 @1:32 pm

    Stephen – Your comment dovetails nicely into some statistics I just read: 75% of Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 are ineligible for military service – #1 obesity, #2 alcohol/drug addiction, #3 low aptitude. One and two are no surprise (Americans consume 94% of the world’s hard drugs) but #3 is a shocker.

    Cain could well be our next president given that we don’t have the ‘smarts’ not to elect him.

  4. c u n d gulag  •  Oct 27, 2011 @1:45 pm

    I don’t think he’s got a serious chance, for a number of reasons, none of them relating to competence or sanity. His vague, non talking point alligned answers on abortion are going to be a large part of the problem.
    And though he was a CEO, Cain just isn’t yet 100% accepted by the powers-that-be in Republican circles. Could it be racism? I don’t know. It might also be that they know he’s a bit too loose of a cannon.
    Racism’s still a bit too endemic in Conservatives. But that’s changing, just like their natural misogyny.
    They have already showed an acceptance of the “Others” as long as that person does the few key things necessary:
    1. Agree with them on all social issues.
    2. Put down “Others” of their own type – showing once and for all that Conservative “virtues” can lead you out of things like race or gender bias, which proves that that sort of prejudice is non-existant.
    3. Really, really, piss-off the Liberals. (Actually, this should be #1).

    Look at Alan Keyes in IL when he ran against Obama.

    They’ll eventually probably accept ‘The Gays,’ as long as the gay’s they take in remain self-hating.

    So, not Cain – not yet. Palin and Bachmann have already broke the glass ceiling (two actually – one for women, one for the truly clinically stupid, ignorant, and insane), so a Nikki Haley candidacy is not beyond the realm in a few years. And she might be on the short list for VP next year, or in 2016, if she’s not a presidential one.

    I actually thought that if we had an African-American President, it would be someone like a Colin Powell. A well-credentialed Republican who wasn’t too far right. I didn’t see someone like an Obama coming before the Keynote address. But after that, I had a feeling, and was ready to go on the day he announced. Others in the NC Democratic Party thought I was a bit quixotic – and I’m not sure that I wasn’t. But it was becoming clear to more and more people that after the disasterous Bush II mis-administration, that even and African-American someone named Barack Hussein Obama stood a chance.

  5. Doug Hughes  •  Oct 27, 2011 @5:33 pm

    There are two camps in the GOP – Tea Party & Establishment. IMO, you could cast Mittens, Newt & Huntsman as establishment and everybody else as teabaggers. If you look at the totals by camp, the ‘establishment’ candidates poll at about 35% and the teabaggers at about 49% with the remainder (16%) undecided or undeclared.

    I include Ron Paul as a Teabagger by philosophy, but he’s almost a category unto himself. He’s unconcerned with polls and – if nothing else – is totally consistent in his message and strategy. He’s unlikely to withdraw early and/or broker his 8.5% following to a non-libertarian.

    If you deduct the Paul conservatives from the equation, the race between the establishment and teabaggers is 35% to 40%, with 15% undecided. Huntsman will withdraw when he gets a job offer from the resumes he’s got to be floating. Newt will drop his bid when a few primaries make his bid statistically impossible. That’s not because he’s a great guy, but because he will bow to pressure to quit sucking up votes that Romney needs.

    The teabaggers who have been visited with fleeting popularity will not quit early. They truly and honestly despise Romney, for being a poll-driven flip-flopper and for being a Mormon. They can each imagine

  6. Doug Hughes  •  Oct 27, 2011 @5:41 pm

    ( cont) an unlikely scenario in which the teabagger forerunner will fall from grace catapults them to the White House. Santorum will quit – but Bachmann will stay in and so will Perry which will probably split the teabagger majority enough to propel Romney to the nomination.

    The question is whether the teabaggers will rally for Romney or put up a candidate of their own.

  7. Lynne  •  Oct 27, 2011 @6:24 pm

    I think all the other Republican candidates are being used as stalking horses for Mitt Romney – to make Romney, in spite of being Mormon, the most “presidential” candidate.

  8. tom B  •  Oct 27, 2011 @7:14 pm

    “I actually thought that if we had an African-American President, it would be someone like a Colin Powell.”

    If qualifications mattered, Huntsman would be in the lead (he’s not black, but Mormonism is pretty anathema to evangelicals). What matters is being able to spew enough hate to get the nomination and being dense enough not to realize (or perhaps, not to CARE) that you are a puppet on Rupert Murdoch’s strings.

  9. Candide  •  Oct 27, 2011 @8:42 pm

    One thing that ought to be put into the equation is the possibility of the tea baggers voting third party. That is not so far-fetched. There is one bagger forum that I regularly monitor where there is much excited discussion about supporting Bill Still’s bid for the Libertarian Party nomination.

    Bill Still is a single-issue candidate. He won’t talk about things like abortion, evolution/creationism, or even tax policy. His theme is doing away with the Fed. He made a documentary movie which is actually quite interesting. The entire thing is on Youtube, and worth watching is you’ve got the time:

    The Secret of Oz

    I don’t expect Bill Still to win the presidency, and he might not even get the Libertarian Party nomination. However, his candidacy could draw a lot of Tea Party votes away from the Republicans. He might draw in some Democrats too, given that he hasn’t said anything that could be deemed anti-liberal.

  10. maha  •  Oct 27, 2011 @10:26 pm

    Getting rid of the fed is one of Ron Paul’s issues.

  11. tom b  •  Oct 27, 2011 @10:13 pm

    “Bill Still is a single-issue candidate. ….His theme is doing away with the Fed.”

    If you think the Fed is the Great Satan, you might just be wackier than the anti-abortion nuts. At least they can claim they were brain washed by their preachers.

  12. buckyblue  •  Oct 28, 2011 @11:02 pm

    Don’t assume these A-holes have any clue what they’re doing. The ONLY candidate that has even the slightest chance of winning is Romney, and he’s the one that will cause many either to stay home or find another candidate, real or imaginary, to vote for. This has absolutely nothing to do with Obamas strength or the economy or anything. This is how blithering weak the Republican candidates are. It’s as if the Democrats had fully embraced OWS and allowed them to take over their party, including nominating candidates. This is the bed they have made that many of us (including Maha) have been warning them, or is it gloating, about. You can’t court and fall in love with the Tbaggernazis because, you know, Normal people, will never vote for them. Obama should lose in 2012, but as of now, it looks like he’ll win, but through no accomplishments of his own.

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