By now you’ve seen the video. A stammering, stuttering, and now staggering Herman Cain attempting to answer the simplest of questions.
Republican Presidential candidates not named Mitt Romney have been on a political carnival ride in the polls, and Cain, even before this latest flub, had been swooning.
Whether it was the sexual harassment allegations or the inability to answer a question in the debate that didn’t involve his invocation of his tax plan, we can’t be sure.
The latest CNN poll has Romeny still leading the field, but not by much over Newt Gingrich.
No seriously, Newt Gingrich, the man basically run out of Congress in the mid-90’s and whose resulting temper tantrum all but sealed the second term of then President Bill Clinton.
First it was Bachmann, then Perry, then Cain, now Gingrich. All the while Mitt Romney continues to hold firm at 20,22,24%
Conservatives are apparently in favor of well…anyone who isn’t Mitt Romney.
For evidence, take a look at intensity polls which measure not just whether people view a candidate favorably or unfavorably, but also how much.
For instance, the higher the intensity rating, the greater the intensity of positive feelings the people have for a candidate.
Right now, Romney, despite leading in the polls, has an intensity score of 10 according to Gallup, while both Cain and Gingrich sit at almost double that at 17 a piece.
While more people, by and large, like Romney as a candidate, the intensity with which people support him is smaller. And the importance of that intensity can’t be understated.
In 2008, Barack Obama won a race not because millions more people believed he would be better than John McCain, but because the people who liked Obama loved Obama.
They went door to door for him, campaigned for him, fund-raised for him.
The intensity of support for candidate Obama dwarfed that of McCain. At that time, even Republican supporters had grown tired of President Bush’s spending and lack of accountability for his actions.
It was hard to get excited for McCain if you were a Republican.
Now, as the political paradigms encompass an ever growing schism of ideology in this country, the Republican candidates most intensely favored are conservative, not just Republican.
Cain is a Tea Partier with history of business success, an eye towards small government, and a homey charm that the Tea Party, a blue collar party, associates with.
Gingrich is another blue blood conservative (probably the only thing blue about him), a veteran member of politics who speaks with the confidence of his experience and the intellect of his platforms.
The only problem is, neither of them can beat Obama. Cain is neither prepared nor experienced enough to be the President, and already that is becoming clear to the American people.
Gingrich is a nothing candidate, a familiar face with little charisma, but is able to thoughtfully articulate conservative platforms. Realistically, the average person over the age of 25 has seen enough of Gingrich to know he’s not the right guy.
But it’s not about Gingrich or Cain.
What has happened is, as conservatives grow weary of one conservative candidate, they move on to another. Despite performing well in every debate and being able to, unlike some of his competitors, complete every thought he starts, Mitt Romney hasn’t gained in the polls.
He’s held steady.
Conservatives refuse to support him.
If, as most people expect, Romney wins the nomination, conservatives will find themselves in a difficult position: do I work for a candidate I don’t believe in, putting forth the effort to make sure he gets elected, or do I just go through the motions and vote for him, but that’s all?
If Romney can’t drum up conservative support, the kind of “intensity” of support he currently lacks, it will be hard to beat Obama.
Despite Obama’s negative ratings, the only way the Republicans can make him a former president is by reaching out to the conservatives.
The support Obama does have is from a passionate and fervent group. They have shown they can energize a nation.
Occupy Wall Street and the rallies against corporate America will be a liberal battle cry, one the media will help them shout.
If that means convincing Paul Ryan or Marco Rubio to run as Vice President, then that’s what the Republicans have to do.
It’s not Newt Gingrich or Herman Cain, or before them, Rick Perry, who energizes conservatives. Conservatives just want another conservative. A good one.
Ryan and Rubio aren’t just good ones, they’re great. I’ve lauded the potential power of a potential Romney/Ryan ticket.
That was when selecting Ryan would be icing on the cake.
Now, it appears the Republicans need a conservative voice on the ticket or they won’t get enough support to win.
I suspect Romney and the Republicans know that. If the right VP candidate is chosen (and the economy continues to slump), the Republicans will likely be able to ride the positive momentum all the way to Pennsylvania Avenue.