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September 25, 2011

Byron York On How Cain Won In Florida

Worries about Perry, a great speech by Cain and a leap of faith about Cain's electability.

In the days before the vote, nearly all the delegates who voted for Cain either said or heard someone else say this: "I love Herman Cain, but he can't get elected." The assumption that Cain can't win the Republican nomination was a serious obstacle in their minds. But at some point late Friday and early Saturday, the delegates overcame that obstacle. Some concluded that since they had heard so many people speak well of Cain, he could indeed win, if everyone who liked him would actually vote for him. Others remained skeptical of Cain's ultimate chances but decided to send the message that they would choose candidates based on conservative principles, and not on perceived electability.

Once the delegates got over the can't-get-elected hurdle, a close contest became a landslide for Herman Cain.

One other factor should not be underestimated. Yes, the delegates liked what Cain had to say. But how he said it was just as important. With his deep, booming voice and a style that any motivational speaker would envy, Cain can give a rousing speech, and he gave several of them during four days in Orlando. No other candidate, frontrunner or back of the pack, could match him. It's not an exaggeration to say that his power as an orator sealed the deal for hundreds of delegates. They believed Cain was speaking to them from the heart, and they were carried away by it. As with the Democratic primary contests of 2007 and 2008, never underestimate the power of a stirring speech.

Yeah, that's the funny thing isn't it? After screaming and laughing at Democrats for falling for a slick talker with little to no experience the conservative base is falling in love with a stirring speaker with little to no experience.

I don't say that as a knock on Cain or his supporters. It just reveals a basic truth...people want to be inspired by someone. They want to see their values and aspirations trumpeted in a moving and eloquent fashion. It's just human nature. Cain is very, very good at that.

As for experience, yes Cain has significant business experience. So does Jeffery Immelt. Electing a political novice President is going to be a bridge to far for a lot of people. Especially after Obama. That's why we're in this mess to begin with.

Cain got a boost when he introduced himself to voters back in May during the first South Carolina debate. After getting caught up in comments about Muslims he wasn't able to capitalize on it. That was a rookie mistake and hopefully he won't make a similar mistake this time. The fact that he didn't have any political events scheduled for this week seems to indicate he really wasn't expecting to do this well in Florida. He better get some set up if he's going to capitalize his win.

Either way, I don't think Cain is going to win the nomination any more than I did Michele Bachmann would after her win in Ames (which was what? 3 years ago or so?). Keep in mind, he's currently at 5.6% nationally and 5.3% in Iowa in the RCP average of polls. I could easily see him climbing in Iowa and pulling a Huckabee type upset there then fade later on.

Who was the last true insurgent candidate to actually win a nomination? I can't think of one in the last 50 years. You might say Obama but he wasn't a true insurgent. Yes, Clinton was the establishment candidate but Obama came out of Chicago with a real organization behind him from the get go.

Cain is likely to be the Howard Dean of this cycle. The guy the base loves but ultimately the party as a whole can't quite pull the trigger on when it comes to picking a candidate to actually run against a hated incumbent. Though unlike Dean, he might have a shot at the VP slot.

Who will be our John Kerry? My guess is, it's just that and not something I look forward to, Mitt Romney. So far his plan of being the last man standing while conservative challengers come and go is working out. I can't believe we might actually do that but Republicans really do tend to vote for then next in line.

If Rick Perry is going to stop Romney he needs to turn it around quickly. On the upside he's got 2 weeks until the next debate on October 11th, on Bloomberg TV so not sure how many people are watching that one. (CNN hosts one on the 18th). That will give him time to get his act together. On the downside, after his shaky debate performance on Thursday and his loss to Cain in the straw poll, he could really use something to swing the momentum before the "Perry's done" narrative takes hold. He could give a speech but I'm not sure that's going to do it at this point. He may just have to ride out the next two weeks, have a gangbusters debate and in essence relaunch himself like McCain did 4 years ago.

Failing all of that, maybe we could just push the whole primary schedule back two months and start all over again? I for one am up for a do-over at this point.

Added: Romney won a Michigan straw poll yesterday.

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posted by DrewM. at 11:50 AM

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