Monday, December 5, 2011

Cain Out

Well, we won't have Prince Herman to kick around any more, with his campaign ending on Saturday. It sure was fun while it lasted, though.

As far as the effects of his demise on the nomination contest, I think it depends on which of two views is correct. Some people see a GOP that is dominated by a strong anti-Romney group, a group that makes up as much as 75% of the party. If that's the case...well, if it's really close to 75%, then Romney has no chance and it doesn't matter that Cain is out. If it's in the neighborhood of 50%, however, then Romney's only path to the nomination is that the anti-Romney vote splits, and removing Cain makes that less likely. That's the logic everyone is using who says that Cain's demise helps Newt Gingrich.

However, if the real dedicated anti-Romney group is much smaller, which is how I read it, then the situation is different. As far as Romney vs. Gingrich is concerned, the problem for Mitt is that Gingrich should be fairly easily destroyed with a negative campaign, but going negative in a multicandidate race is tricky -- voters could easily wind up turning against both the target and the attacker. So what Romney wants is to narrow the field down, eliminating each of those who could benefit from that effect. And each candidate who self-immolates is a plus because Romney gets closer to one-on-one without becoming the bad guy.

(If that's true, Romney also needs Republicans to be immune from the charms of Ron Paul, who probably isn't going anywhere -- in other words, Romney's best realistic case after New Hampshire is three left standing, with Paul's support capped at a relatively small sliver of the party).

Now, in the event, whether Cain actually stayed or not didn't much matter because his support was already on its way to being completely gone, and perhaps it was unlikely at this point that he could have ever revived no matter what. But the real question here is whether winnowing the field rapidly is good for Romney -- as I see it -- or bad for him. If the ideal hope for Romney is that he can narrow it to one-on-one plus Paul, and then benefit from a tide of endorsements and positive coverage in the partisan press, then he's one step closer than he was a month ago.


  1. Didn't Agatha Christie write something about this?

  2. PS. It just crossed my mind to ask whether someone, somewhere in the far frozen north, is sitting countng her fingers and waiting for the call?

  3. Richard, I don't think so. She's already missed a pile of deadlines to register, and more are coming off every week. She won't be a candidate this time, the ballot access issues are too great.

    If Romney (or someone else) wrapped up a big delegate win but was forced to withdraw thereafter, Palin might conceivably try to compete for the freed delegates. Otherwise (and that's very unlikely) it will never happen.

  4. Voters who turn off Romney for going negative won't go to Bachmann Santorum Paul or Perry (nor would they have gone to Cain if they hadn't already). The only destination would be Huntsman (who has himself gone quite negative). Other than that they could not vote at all or the attacks could backfire and they could go to Newt, a problem that still exists for him in a winnowed down field. Romney's is a conventional campaign and will attack Gingrich in conventional ways i.e. ask his surrogates to do the dirty work.

  5. As to who might receive the immediate benefit of Cain's departure, Bartels suggests that (in Tennessee, at least) Cain and Gingrich supporters are most similar to each other.

  6. Paul has high enough numbers that he has a chance of winning the Iowa Caucuses. That would really shake up the race even if he probably can't be the nominee. (Paul's GOP support may be capped but there are lots of Paul sympathizers out there that don't usually vote in GOP primaries). Should be getting way more attention.

  7. Gallup published a study of the GOP candidates' measure of 'acceptable candidate' among Republicans and GOP-leaning Independents.

    Gingrich leads with +28 (62% acceptable, 34% say not), Romney with +13 is the only other candidate currently "acceptable" to more target primary voters than not. But it's Rick Perry at -11 in third place - and he's the one who could quickly ramp up the fundraising and campaign organization to take advantage, if the "ABR" contingent goes shopping again.

    Also, too: Ron Paul came in third to last at -28, with 62% saying he was unacceptable to them. So while the Iowa caucuses provide a punchers' chance for him to win a 29%-26%-24% decision, there's no reason to think he can compete in wider-participation primary states down the road.

    But I think JB's consternation over so many people taking Gingrich seriously calls for a meme:


  8. JS,

    I love it. As you no doubt have seen, as you were writing that I posted on the same poll -- I was thinking about making the same point about Perry (and Paul), but I was afraid of being guilty of overkill.

  9. Everyone,

    I cleaned out this thread and zapped a few posts because a personal flame war was breaking out. Both commenters are welcome to return, but none of us wants to read that kind of thing.

    I haven't had to do this before, but I do read all comments (but it's getting harder!), and I want to keep this a friendly place. So while I'm not going to zap for anyone's views, or even factually-challenged commenters, and I've been willing to tolerate persistent mischaracterization of posters' points of view, I will keep the tone civil.

  10. You censored my comments, but there was nothing to be censored in each or any of them. Your statements to the contrary are simply false.

    Previously, you've threatened to censor my comments, upon which I informed you that a censorious environment isn't for me, and my stay here would end instantly if you ever censored my comments. You backed off, and I'd suggest you do so now, because censoring for content is not an environment for anyone believing in freedom and liberty. It is rather a very unflattering statement about you.

    Please proceed to reset those comments. I'll check back once, and only once, to see whether this is truly the authoritarian hothouse you apparently want it to be.

  11. And if anyone is still reading this...

    A flame war broke out. I zapped all relevant posts, pointed out why, invited all parties to continue posting, but asked them and everyone else to keep the tone civil.

    That's the rules around here, and I'll enforce them, albeit with a pretty light touch, to the extent that I've had some complaints (it's the first time I've ever zapped anything from regular posters; everything I've deleted in the past has been either spam or hit-and-run stuff).

    I do urge, again, everyone to be tolerant of others, respect their opinions, avoid characterizing their views (or especially mischaracterizing their views), or indulging in name-calling or repeating partisan talking points.

    And with that, I'm going to close off comments on this one. I urge everyone who has any comments, complaints, or whatever on the policy or the way I'm enforcing it to please email me. I very much enjoy the comments -- you all provide a huge amount of added value here, in my view. You all built it, and I think you for it.

Who links to my website?