According to a new Rasmussen Poll, Herman Cain and Mitt Romney are now virtually tied on the top of the Republican presidential heap as both garnered 29% in the sampling. And the new number three is Newt Gingrich, who gets 10 percent while former frontrunner Rick Perry has slipped all the way back to fourth, at nine percent.
It’s interesting to note the history of how this race has gone. Mitt Romney has always seemed to have his 20 to 30 percent support and that number doesn’t seem to waver regardless of who’s in the race; it’s enough to keep him on top or a close second in most polls.
But the role of portraying that “other” contender seems to change on a cycle of about a month or two.
Way, way back there were people who thought Jon Huntsman was the guy. But by the time he actually announced his intentions he was a nonentity in the race, and it’s there he has stayed.
For awhile it was Sarah Palin – when she was dropping hints about getting into the fray. But when she kept putting off a decision, the public apparently decided that she wasn’t going to get in and her support eroded.
When he got into the race earlier this year, Herman Cain had the mojo for awhile until a few ill-considered remarks dropped him down into the field for a time.
Then Tim Pawlenty had a turn, but his campaign crashed and burned in August when he finished third in the Ames Straw Poll. He was the first major contender to drop out, although now he’s kicking himself for the decision to abort. (T-Paw may take on Al Franken in 2014 instead.)
Fellow Minnesotan Michele Bachmann was the “it” candidate for a few weeks, but she was more or less a placeholder for Rick Perry, who was on top of the charts for a two-month run until it was decided he can’t really debate well and his support for in-state tuition for illegal immigrants in Texas was just too much for many conservatives to stand.
And now it’s Cain again, based on the strength of his 9-9-9 economic plan. Of course, now he’s the one being sniped at for running an unconventional campaign and not focusing on early primary states. But he has to win national votes sometime, doesn’t he?
Yet lurking in the wings and perhaps getting ready for a surge of his own is Newt Gingrich. Notice he’s moved up to third?
And who knows, there’s always hope for Rick Santorum, Buddy Roemer, and Gary Johnson to get their turns at the “number one contender status. I exclude Ron Paul because his support seems to travel in a narrow range in the upper single-digits, rarely varying from that number.
Still, the “establishment” isn’t going away quietly, for there is another key factor in play.
Two states where Romney is expected to do well, New Hampshire and Nevada, are playing chicken right now about their respective primary and caucus, each daring the other to keep pushing the date up the calendar. In New Hampshire’s case, December 6 and December 13 are “realistic options,” according to the state’s Secretary of State.
Romney won Nevada’s caucuses in 2008 and is expected to win New Hampshire’s primary, so the effect of early results from those states would be to quickly weed out the field of several hopefuls, leaving Mitt in a stronger position as the anointed candidate. It’s less time for the lesser-known contenders to fundraise, and given the conventional wisdom that you need to win at least one of the early primaries to be viable we may see a situation where the race is all but over by the time we have our say here in Maryland April 3. All told, an early primary season works in Mitt’s favor because he has plenty of money.
But the New Hampshire news is dreadful for a number of reasons, the least of which is that we’re going to have probably eight or nine months for the partisan media to pick apart our nominee and do its best to prop up Barack Obama. (They really have their work cut out for them in that respect, but 2008 proved they were up to the task.) If nothing else, their goal will be to trash the GOP standardbearer so much that Republicans and conservative-leaning independents stay home and let the Democrats win by default.
That is something we can’t allow, nor do we need any conservative third-party nonsense. (Now if someone wants to run from Obama’s left, that’s fine with me. As far as I’m concerned that would be two peas from the same pod, and we all know Obama wants us to eat our peas.)
So the question is just how long Cain can stay in his polling position. Certainly there’s a lot of questions about his 9-9-9 plan (RedState seems to really hate Herman on that one) but as a philosophy I think it’s a good first step toward where we need to go, and so does he. If you consider 9-9-9 as a means to an end, as I see it, then it makes a lot more sense. Having said that, though, I also realize it would also require diligence and discipline to stay on the proper path. After all, there is nothing permanent in Washington, and that certainly includes tax law.
Still, it’s not leading from behind, is it?