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Saturday, December 3, 2011

HERMAN CAIN IS OUT!!!...(for now, at least)

In huge but somewhat expected news today, Herman Cain has announced he is "suspending" his campaign for president due to "false" sexual assault allegations. Although it's kind of ironic that this is what killed his campaign instead of his utter lack of knowledge on foreign policy, the job got done just the same.What does "suspending" mean? Nobody seems to be sure. He can still raise funds and is still technically a candidate. But make no mistake, barring a tremendous comeback or a rapid change of events, Herman Cain is out. He's no longer actively campaigning, will not be in any of the debates until further notice, and there is exactly one month to the day until the first caucus in Iowa. He left the door open to return later on in the process, but it'd be a miracle for him to shake the allegations, decide to rejoin the fight, and then recover enough in the polls to combat whatever momentum the early primary winners had gathered. Even he said that he will be announcing who he endorses within a few days. For our purposes, we can assume he's finished.

What does this mean for the others? Cain was averaging about 14% nationally on the RCP average (found here) and those voters now need to choose somebody else. About a month ago I did a post about who is most likely to benefit if Cain dropped out, which you can read here. But a lot has changed since then, most notably Cain's fall in the standings and Gingrich's rise to prominence. On November 1st, Cain was averaging 26% to Gingrich's 9.4%. Today, Cain has 14% and Gingrich has 26.6%. No other candidate's average changed by more than 4% points over that time. This is strong evidence that Cain's supporters have been jumping ship in favor of Gingrich over the past month, and probably evidence that they have a greater propensity to support Gingrich than other candidates in the future. So Newt is undoubtedly a happy man today. Gingrich has already issued a press release which is essentially the equivalent of opening his arms to Cain's supporters and saying "come to papa!":

“Herman Cain’s 999 plan got our country talking about the critical issue of how to reform our tax code and he elevated the dialogue of the Republican presidential primary in the process. I am proud to know Herman Cain and consider him a friend. I know from having worked with him for more than a decade he will continue to be a powerful voice in the conservative movement for years to come.”

But it also might be argued that those who didn't jump ship on Cain already after Gingrich overtook him in the polls may have some aversion to Gingrich. For those who don't go to Gingrich, who now appears a sizable favorite over Romney, who will they go to? My guess is Rick Perry, because that's where most of Cain's supporters came from in the first place. But Ron Paul is still averaging higher than Perry in most polls, and since Cain's supporters must not have had very strong opinions on foreign policy perhaps they wouldn't be deterred as much by Paul's decidedly un-Republican military views.

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