Friday, October 28, 2011

Everything's Different Now (or: The Fall of the World's Own Optimist)

First Dave Weigel had a piece about how Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich were "succeeding because they understand how the media works" (and the Tea Party!) and now National Journal's Beth Reinhard has a similar article arguing that Cain's success proves that none of the old rules about campaigning in early states and working hard and having a good campaign operation matter any more.

Maybe so...but aren't we jumping the gun just a bit? C'mon everyone: Herman Cain hasn't won anything yet. Newt Gingrich has, apparently, moved his own polling numbers among Republicans, which is an accomplishment of sorts, but he hasn't even had a (horse race) polling surge yet, at least not a meaningful one.

In particular, the idea that you can help yourself in Iowa and New Hampshire by doing well nationally is hardly a new idea (as Barack Obama among others can tell you). But that's a very different proposition from the idea that you can do well in Iowa without having the campaign there to take advantage of national publicity. Maybe that will turn out to be true for Cain (or Gingrich), but the proof of that will be on caucus day, not before. And as Hans Noel pointed out in an excellent post over at the Monkey Cage, the real goal here isn't Iowa, anyway; it's the nomination, and Cain is still a very long way from showing he's a live prospect for that.

As far as I can tell, all that we can see so far is that Cain and Gingrich are proving that what they've been doing is a solid path for business plan candidates. It's still awfully unlikely that it will prove to be a viable nomination strategy -- although to be fair, my view would be that it's not as if there was any winning nomination strategy for either of them.


  1. My, for a guy with no shot, and you being a guy who don't give no play to guys with no shot... you're certainly keeping up a steady run of commentary on Mr. Cain. ;-)

  2. I have an explanation: reading about Herman Cain and, in general, the possibility of an unprecedented event occurring is way, way more fun than reading "Mitt Romney is slowly and steadily winning the Republican nomination."
    What do you, Plain Blogger, think about the idea that many of the party actors, especially the ones who are ideologically far-right, are trying to use Cain, Perry, etc. to push Romney into making more far-right commitments before finally relenting and letting him win it? I feel like I've read that somewhere, and it didn't sound too unreasonable.

  3. Anon 5:37,

    Plain blog bait is definitely anything that's become conventional wisdom that I think is wrong. I think I did a post or two on Cain himself, but mostly I'm just writing about the process, and how people writing about Cain are getting it (IMO) wrong.

    Anon 9:43,

    I think a lot of conservatives just don't want Romney, so they're sincere in their opposition to him. But so far at least, hardly anyone significant has endorsed Cain. But certainly those who want a conservative nominee usually help themselves by supporting more conservative candidates, even if those candidates fall short.


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