I am fascinated by this result from the latest HuffPo-Patch poll of Republican party elites in the early primary and caucus states:
Nearly three-fourths, 74 percent, of these party insiders believe that “can beat Obama” describes Cain “very well” or “somewhat well.” That’s more confidence than I would expect. I would be interested to know why these insiders see him as so viable. Given the economic headwinds that Obama faces, there are probably many GOP candidates or non-candidates who could beat him—including, I think, Romney, Perry, Christie, Huntsman, Daniels, Thune, Pawlenty, and others. All you need is some modicum of political experience, a likable enough personality, issue positions that you can massage as needed for your primary and general election audiences, and a minimum of outright wackiness. (And even issue positions that are tougher to massage may not matter much if the economy dominates all other issues.) These qualities typically combine to make a viable candidate who in turn typically has a professional campaign operation.
But Cain. Well, he seems quite likable. And I could even see massaging 9-9-9 into something politically palatable. But his lack of experience and now all this wackiness would give me pause. As would his position on abortion—or, rather, I should say his seeming inability to state a clear position on a longstanding and perhaps the most important social issue within the GOP. How hard can that be? It’s as if a baseball team scouted a shortstop who couldn’t throw to first base but the team’s scouts were still confident that he would help them win the World Series. I blame Cain’s campaign as well. Who is prepping him? Why is he going on “Piers Morgan” in the first place?
Anyway, my observations on the GOP field and Cain in particular are nothing that hasn’t been said before. What I can’t figure out is why these GOP insiders would see things differently enough to believe Cain could beat Obama.
[Cross-posted at The Monkey Cage]