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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Somebody Has To Win, Part 2

I would not want to be a member of one of those Republican “elite” circles right now, responsible for getting my party out of its presidential quandry.
The Herman Cain implosion is now impossible to deny or ignore. With one of the original sexual harassment accusers going public (and looking highly credible), a new accuser coming forward, and the candidate himself holding a highly self-destructive press conference, the Cain Train’s forward momentum now seems to be depending entirely on blind conservative hatred of the media (and perhaps of those feminazis who think sexual harassment is a serious issue). But even that line of defense may be crumbling. RedState’s Erick Erickson pretty much gave up on Cain when he tried to blame the Perry campaign for his troubles, calling the Cain campaign “stuck on stupid.” The Iowa Republican‘s Craig Robinson has gone into full-fledged attack mode, calling Cain’s conservative defenders part of a “cult of personality.” And those signs of abandonment occurred before today’s rolling fiasco.
So will Cain’s impending collapse finally convince Republicans to unite behind Mitt Romney? Doesn’t look like it. Mitt seems stuck in the polls nearly everywhere other than in New Hampshire. Will it feed a comeback by Rick Perry? Not much sign of that, either.
Indeed, the candidate who seems to be benefiting from the chaos right now is none other than Newt Gingrich, left for dead months ago and still running a limited campaign that’s in the red financially. Brand new PPP polls in Ohio and Mississippi (and also in the state senate district in Iowa that’s holding a special election today) show Gingrich running not only well ahead of Perry, but also ahead of Romney. Jonathan Chait is so stunned by what he calls “The Newtening” (sorta kinda told you so, Jon) that he’s foresworn making any more predictions about this GOP nomination contest.
What’s next? A Santorum surge? (Matter of fact, there are some who see signs of Santorum momentum in Iowa). A Bachmann revival? A Ron Paul breakthrough?
Hard to say, but the one thing that does still make sense, as Ron Brownstein explained week before last, is that there are two separate GOP nominating contests underway, one for each half of the party that is composed of Tea Party supporters and non-Tea Party supporters. Romney is winning the latter handily, but has made little headway among the former, who are obviously struggling to settle on a champion. There is no one in sight who can bridge the gap between the two factions, which means that unless Romney can just wrap it all up early with a surgical strike in Iowa, a collision is inevitable between Mitt and, well, somebody.

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