Some people complain about the primary/ caucus process as favoring a few small states Iowa and NH, at the same time they will complain about the debates beginning so early. The truth is the debates have nearly replaced the primaries. The debates are sort of a national primary, and the national polls and fundraising follows the candidates that do well in those debates. Those performances and the money that follows will effect the ability of the candidates to buy media in the early states.
Herman Cain has wowed the press and TEA Party Conservatives and created a major Buzz just in time for his book tour. Many editorials are openly asking if Cain and the 9-9-9 plan can win..he is being taken seriously at least for the moment. But is he really just a "parking place" ?
Charlie Cook asks: "Cain seems to be functioning as a parking place for conservatives who
have grown disillusioned or who harbor reservations about the previous
flavors of the month. Until he demonstrates strength in some of these
other dimensions (fundraising, campaign organization), it’s a good bet
that Cain is little more than a place for conservatives to window shop
while they decide what to do. If Gertrude Stein were alive, she might
observe that with the Cain campaign, “there is no there there.”
I had framed almost the same commentary in my head and then I read Cook and decided to quote him rather than being accused of plagiarism :^). I think as we look back at the past 4 months we had a rush to Trump for a few days when he was calling out Obama, then Bachmann had her day in the sun..and good polling for a few weeks..until Perry got in and then he had a month in the top spot..thru it all Cain has been gathering strength and followers but not much cash until the last week before the reporting period where he took in about 1.5 Million dollars. But compared to the 14.5 and 17.3 million Romney and Perry camps brought in it's a pittance really. Cain has a lean campaign of about 35 staffers, he will now need to ramp up his staff FAST and he will need to keep bringing about 1 million a week and he'll want to leak that info. to the press to keep the focus on his growing momentum in the GOP race *(Cain's campaign leaked this week 10/28 that he raised 3 Million in Oct.). That much change in a short time is bound to cause problems and mistakes. If Perry has a mediocre performance tonight and Cain looks, good he could seriously become the official un-Romney candidate, if Perry does well then Cain and Perry will battle for that title now until January 3rd, when Iowa will decide if there will even be a race in 2012 for the nomination. (10/28 update Perry had his most combative debate with Mitt and Cain did his Apples and oranges defense, but little has changed and Cain has polled barely in first place for about 8 days, I suspect he has peaked though).
Scenario one: Cain or Perry places first in Iowa on Jan 3rd; Romney wins NH and Nev; and then either Cain or Perry MUST win SC; or it's over. Florida will be the next week.and Romney will do very well, either the TEA Party will take this race and give it to Cain/Perry or it's over on Jan 31st. (Florida).
Scenario two: If Romney wins Iowa because the folks see him as the safe choice, it's all over on Jan 3rd.
I like Cain and wish him success but I think the fact is that Romney has consistently been 20% or higher whether in first or second place..and is clearly winning every debate, he is inevitable as the undecideds have now given up on waiting for "Superman", as Chiristie, Palin, Guilianni and Ryan have declined to run.
Huntsman will be the next to drop out of the race, possible in the next 2 -3 weeks. Secondly, while Herman Cain has pulled to within a half point of Romney in the RCP avg.s he will not rise above Romney by more than 1 point , and probably won't climb above Romney at all *see 10/28 update Cain is up .7%.