Can Cain?

If there is one thing we can take from the recent crop of straw polls, it’s that they won’t tell us anything significant about the way the GOP primary will shake out. They do, however, indicate a growing shake-up of the GOP primary overall. But as recent History shows, straw polls are becoming increasingly ineffective at showing us who the candidate will actually be.

Michele Bachmann took the Iowa Straw Poll, for example, but her campaign vessel has almost completely stalled at sea. Flash back to the previous Iowa Straw Poll and remember that Mitt Romney won, only to be stomped by Mike Huckabee in the Iowa primary. Of course, Huckabee ended up getting stomped in later state battles, with John McCain eventually storming through Florida and others to take the nomination.

The Michigan GOP straw poll results are in, showing Romney with a commanding lead. Romney’s lead in the Michigan straw poll may not mean much, though, because Romney has deep ties in Michigan and spent a ton of money in preparation. Rick Perry came in a distant second.

The big surprise (and mostly unreported) is that Herman Cain came in third. This is interesting because Rick Perry and Mitt Romney appear to be fighting for the GOP establishment vote, while Herman Cain is in the “second tier” fighting for the conservative/tea party vote. And he appears to be winning it.

Then, there is the stunning news that Herman Cain stomped all GOP opponents in the Florida straw poll. You can read the results of the Florida in many ways, but one of the most important notes/thoughts might be the open rebuke by older conservatives of Mitt Romney. The Florida poll wasn’t like the Iowa poll where you had a virtual tie for first, followed by a close third. Herman Cain carried 37% with Rick Perry grabbing 15% and Mitt Romney coming in at 14%.

The question then becomes, does Herman Cain actually have a shot at winning the primary? Most pundits/media big wigs will tell you no. But in doing so they forget recent History.

Let’s remind ourselves, shall we? Remember that in September of 2007, Rudy Giuliani led the GOP pack, while Hillary Clinton was up front for the Democrats. In fact, in an October 3, 2007 poll, Clinton was at 47% to Obama’s 15%.

Mitt Romney is currently enjoying a slight surge, but only because the second tier political ammunition has been focused on Rick Perry. Once Perry irons out his message and the “front-runner” brand weakens, focus will be back on Romney’s moderate record and big government Republican reflection. When that happens, and when more GOP primary voters start tuning in, there will be an opening for a candidate with momentum, a solid message, a non-politician brand and strong tea party support.

Michele Bachmann might have peaked too early. The quarterly reports will soon come out and we’ll see where Bachmann stands financially, but my guess is she’s going to be out of fuel and pushing the car. Herman Cain on the other hand has run a much more frugal campaign and may be able to last long enough to let the establishment fight run its course.

If I had to pick a tea party candidate who I thought could sneak in at the last minute and grab momentum in the primary, it would be Herman Cain. That said, it won’t be easy and Cain needs to step up his game on all fronts to get ready for the battle ahead.

In my opinion, he can still win. And he might be the only candidate outside of Perry or Romney who can.

Eric Odom