Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Tiers (TM) for 11/8/11

Formerly known as "The Horserace", my analysis of the presidential race will now be called "The Tiers". There are several reasons for this. For one, it sounds cooler, and for two, it is more original and distinguishes me from other blogs. But more importantly, the race is clearly settling down into three tiers and is more clearly analyzed along those lines. Much like the Cambodian temple pictured above, you must first climb the lower tiers before being deemed worthy of breathing rarer air, so we will start at the bottom and work our way upward.

Third Tier
There are currently three candidates in the third tier: Bachmann at 3%, Santorum at 2%, and Huntsman at 1%. Why does this tier even exist? And why isn't there a fourth tier? Well, I suppose you could consider Roemer, Karger, etc. fourth tier candidates, i.e. those that don't register in the polls. However, such candidates are not "in it to win it". The third tier consists of candidates, who, however low they may be polling right now, can still envision a path to victory by winning early states. Otherwise, they would have dropped out by now. Bachmann and Santorum aim to boost their poll numbers and momentum by winning Iowa, while Huntsman is hoping to knock off Romney in NH. Of the three, I actually think Huntsman has the best chance, despite sometimes polling at 0% nationally. The reason for this is that he has occasionally posted good numbers in NH, and he is a consistent, competent moderate who is nevertheless fiscally conservative. Should NH voters conclude that Romney is too inconsistent to beat Obama, they may take a look at Huntsman. Bachmann and Santorum are a bit of a longer shot, especially as they are competing against each other, not to mention higher tiered candidates. Of the two, Santorum has the best chance of gaining traction as Cain's scandals begging to depress his support among Iowa women. Bachmann is still on a downward trend nationally and scraping by with what's left of the organization she built in order to win the Iowa straw poll.

Second Tier
This tier might be considered "the bench". It consists of candidates who have enough of a support base to put them somewhere near 10% in the polls. Should a leading candidate falter, one of them might have an opportunity to "sub in". Currently Paul sits on the lower end of this group with about 9%. He obviously has a base, but it is doubtful that the rest of the GOP will give him a second look. Perry, similarly, has a residual base comprised of big money from corporations, and, presumably, Texans? Like Paul, he has stumbled badly in the debates, and his antics have made him look like a brain dead ADD riddled clown. However, in the absence of any other viable candidate, his experience as governor might earn him an inning of relief. Gingrich is the leader of the pack, and close to breaking through into the first tier. Polling at 13%, he continues to slowly gain followers, raise money, and add momentum. He is definitely the tortoise in the race, but in this crazy election season slow and steady may be just what is needed. The ability to articulate conservative solutions based on a proven record of conservative reform as Speaker will carry him far.

First Tier
These candidates have the most support, and, obviously, are vying for the top spot. Romney consistently polls between 20% and 30%, depending on the other options at the time. He seems to be settling around 25%. Basically, he hopes to win by waiting out the other candidates. If someone (say, Gingrich) gathers momentum and comes on strong he can easily be defeated, as his support is capped at 30% due to his flip flops, liberal record, and lack of social conservative (read: evangelical) cred. However, if the field stays split, he could eke out a win by just being the last man standing. Cain, as we all know, has been challenging Romney for the top spot, and accordingly things are getting very ugly. Cain's biggest problem is his lack of experience and gravitas. Though he's doing the best he can to project it, many people just can't see him seriously having what it takes to challenge Obama. And the harassment allegations, while perhaps spurious, seem to paint a picture of a ladies' man who routinely used his power as CEO to attempt to gain favors. The damage isn't actually done by the allegations themselves; it occurs because they reinforce the already prevalent image of Cain as a jokester who's not fit to be president. Current polling shows Cain sliding back beneath Romney. Should he fall far enough, the conservative media which is currently defending him will turn on him and it will be lights out for his campaign. Whoever is behind all this (probably a lot of people - media, GOP opponents, Dems) has done their research well and the attacks are connecting with the intended target. Women are now starting to view Cain as a player and he is taking on water fast. I'm still undecided as to whether Cain will survive, albeit having lost his front runner status, or plummet a. la. Bachmann and Perry. Either way, the conservative base will be searching for another alternative to Romney to promote to the first tier.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Horserace for 10/29/11

I have a lot of things to say about the candidates today, so it's time for an updated horserace. First off, to make things simpler, let's dispense with the losers. Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson, Buddy Roemer, and Fred Karger are all either single issue candidates or candidates who are not an ideological fit with the current state of the Republican party. Santorum is too narrowly focused on social issues, Huntsman is too liberal, Johnson is pointless since Paul is in the race, Roemer is only trying to get money out of politics, and Karger's one claim to fame is being gay (no point in being PC about it - that just isn't going to fly with social conservatives). None of these candidates have seen a bump in national polling the entire time they have been in the race, and with two months to go before the first primaries, I don't see it happening. Santorum may get a few votes in Iowa (or not) and Hunstman in NH, but other than that they are a sideshow. Their political careers would be better served by dropping out now and endorsing someone else. So, on to the candidates who, at least at some time in the past year, have been real contenders.

Michele Bachmann
As Ned Ryun of American Majority has recently noted (I've been saying it for a few weeks), it is time for her to go. Where do I start? From the beginning, Michele Bachmann was never qualified to run for president. Despite my admonition that her career would be better served by running for senate or governor first in order to develop some experience and expertise, Bachmann decided that running for President was just the thing she needed to boost her national profile. Unfortunately for her, that was the wrong decision. Despite a brief surge in polling that fueled a narrow Iowa straw poll victory over Ron Paul (that those two were the top choices should tell you all you need to know about how straw polls can be gamed), she promptly collapsed back to 3% in the polls as her flaws became evident on the campaign trail. Her campaign was never about the country, it was all about her. Her first blunder was attempting to establish a Tea Party caucus (now largely defunct) in order to position herself as the leader of the Tea Party in Washington. If you think that last statement is oxymoronic, well then you're smarter than Bachmann. She then ran around Iowa and the rest of the country touting her 27 kids and her experience as a tax attorney (thin as that may have been) as qualifications for president. She used the word "I" in her sentences more frequently than Obama. And then she made blunder after blunder. From shoving reporters, to saying vaccines cause mental retardation, to a series of misstatements, to hiring Ed Rollins only to have him publicly disown her later, to claiming that her NH staff was still working for her after they publicly quit, Bachmann showed that, as expected, she wasn't ready for prime time. The increasingly rosy campaign statements coming from her campaign paint a picture of a person in denial. I feel sorry for her that she isn't intelligent enough to realize that she's ruining her career, but then again I have warned her time and again about the path she was on. The sooner she drops out, the better chance she has to scrape together something, anything, from the shipwrecked remains of her presidential bid.

Rick Perry
Likewise, Mr. Texas is lacking in the department of hubris. Despite an enormous groundswell of support for Sarah Palin, Perry decided a while back that HE was the answer to the nation's problems. Whether or not his wife pushed him into it, Perry eventually began to believe the hype about himself. Despite rumblings that he had serious problems and his adamant denials over the years that he would not run for president, he became convinced that his greatness could not be contained in the small confines of Texas. With his corporate cronies sweet talking him with piles of cash, he jumped into the race with a swagger, supremely confident that he would naturally accept the coronation of the Tea Party and the establishment alike. Not so. Stung by his lackluster debate performances, an absence of grey matter between the ears, his liberal views on immigration, and a long record of corrupt, pay-to-play crony corporatism, he quickly slipped back to single digits in the polls. The former supporter of Carter and Gore may have been able to get away with being a political chameleon in Texas, where a relatively sleepy GOP was prone to overlook problems that could be washed away with corporate cash (and then only because Palin stuck up for her fellow governor and head of the RGA at the time of his last election), but his carefully groomed image didn't hold up to the glare of the national spotlight. Despite failure after failure, the MSM is still pushing a Perry "comeback" so Obama won't have to campaign much in 2012. Not gonna happen. Time for Perry to fulfill his promise and serve out his term as governor of Texas.

Mitt Romney
Romney doesn't really have a reason to run, other that he can. He believes in nothing except that he'd like a big promotion, as even the establishment is beginning to admit. With the recent piece by George Will and an unprecedented agreement between the grassroots and the MSM (though for different reasons entirely) that Romney is inconsistent to the point of incoherence and therefore unelectable, his residual front runner status from 2008 may be at an end. The only reason he was leading the race was because the 70% of the GOP who will not support him was undecided or split among the other candidates. As some of those candidates, i.e. Cain and Gingrich, become legitimate contenders, his support is evaporating. A recent poll put him in second place to Cain at 18%, down from his high of 30%. This is an election where ideology matters just as much or more than technical competence, and Mitt is sorely lacking in the former. The question then is what will happen to the establishment support should Romney flounder. Judging by the money, they'll be supporting Rick Perry. And that's something with which I'm very, very comfortable.

Herman Cain
When people tell pollsters they support Herman Cain, they do not necessarily mean for president. Instead, they mean that they support his message and charming personality. However, when asked whether they can see him as president, you tend to get crickets chirping. As we get closer to the actual primary where voters must select an actual choice for the GOP nomination to challenge Obama for the presidency, they may not be so quick to pull the lever for him. Indeed, polling indicates that his support is very soft. It's as if people are saying yes, this is the direction we need to go, but they're not sold on Cain being the person to take us there. And they're also doing it to show that we don't have to accept Romney as our nominee. Let's take a closer look at Cain. After graduating from college with a degree in mathematics, he first worked for the Navy on ballistics. Eventually, he got into business and went to work for Pillsbury, where he turned Burger King around. He was later assigned to Godfather's Pizza, which he saved by shutting down about 80 stores and buying it from Pillsbury. Fresh off those successes, he was a natural choice to head up the National Restaurant Association. Essentially holding a lobbyist position, his friendly demeanor and quick wit soon earned him a spot on the Kansas City Fed. From there, he became even more involved in politics, becoming a radio talk show host. He ran for president briefly in 2000, and also ran for the senate in Georgia in 2004, losing in the primary. Though I wouldn't call him a crony capitalist, he is certainly no stranger to interaction, even collusion, between government and business. He now seems to be a perennial candidate, a. la. Christine O'Donnell. His support of Alan Greenspan and TARP were major red flags that should give anyone pause, especially in light of the almost universal disapproval of bailouts for big business anywhere except in the GOP establishment. Though his personal charm managed to get him appointed to some governmental positions, he has never actually won an election whose outcome was determined by the voting public. His lack of foreign policy experience, which he readily admits, is a huge problem. Can you imagine the leader of the free world saying he doesn't know or care who is the president of U-beki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan and drawing a blank on foreign policy? These are the sort of things that voters will be evaluating as the campaign season progresses, and I do not think he will win. Nevertheless, his accomplishments are noteworthy and he will be a major player in the election, but he is ultimately destined for a cabinet post.

Newt Gingrich
As I posted recently, I have decided to support Newt. His support in the polls has been growing steadily. There are several reasons for this. Basically, he is the anti-Bachmann, because he is running a campaign of substance as opposed to one of hollow rhetoric. Gingrich was written off early on, both by the base because of "baggage" and by the establishment because he didn't follow the usual rout of kissing up to the powers that be, raking in their dough, and spending it on the permanent political class. Instead, he was doing this weird thing of investing in social media and trying to run a grassroots campaign. Gingrich? Grassroots? The establishment chortled. Ol' crazy Newt. As usual, however, Gingrich is a genius and turned out to be right. In fact, it probably helped him that he lost some staff in the beginning, because he was freed up to be himself and just talk to people face to face about solutions to put our country on the right path. Time and again he would win debates, yet the pundits continued to write him off. No more. These days, huge crowds flock to see him speak wherever he goes. The campaign is quickly expanding to early states, and many people are taking a second look. When Palin decided not to run, Gingrich became the natural second choice for many people who wanted a proven record of conservative solutions. To be sure, some people still harangue him about his womanizing during the 90's, but with our country in trouble and Gingrich practically the only candidate with a head on his shoulders and a record to match, many people are willing to take him at his word that he has settled down with Callista and matured over the years. Even his opponents have to admit, they'd love to see a series of Lincoln-Douglas style debates between Obama and Gingrich. Let's face it, no one else is going to be able to take on professor Obama as well as professor Gingrich. Obama vs. Romney? Romney's flip flops and backtracks would kill him. Obama vs. Cain? Let's hope they avoid foreign policy. Obama vs. Perry? Have you seen Perry's grades? Besides, that undercuts the whole argument against Obama that he is a crony capitalist/socialist. The GOP is going to have to make a decision. Do we want to get serious about beating Obama with a conservative? Or do we just want to put up a losing candidate as a protest vote? Cain or Perry would fit that bill. But if we want to win, it's got to be Gingrich or (increasingly less likely) Romney, and if we want to win with a conservative, it's got to be Gingrich. I'd consider a loss with Cain over a win with Romney. But I'd much rather prefer a win with Gingrich.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Newt Gingrich for President!

Originally, I had planned to hold off for a few more weeks before making an endorsement. I was split between Cain and Gingrich. However, it has become increasingly clear over the last week or so that Newt Gingrich really is the only option. And, as I have seen a move toward him that has not yet become apparent in the polls, it is time to get this ball rolling.

After Sarah Palin left the race, I immediately hoped she could be persuaded to reconsider. After further reflection on her comments in the days surrounding her announcement, I became convinced that she would not run for the GOP nomination. There is too much hatred from the party establishment for her to succeed. I do think that she has left the door open to running on a third party ticket if the GOP should nominate the wrong person, i.e. Romney (or Huntsman). In any other case, I think she will back the nominee. Regardless, even that is a long shot, so for the time being it's better to move on and focus on nominating the right person.

There was no immediately obvious choice for me after Palin left the race. I quickly ruled out Bachmann as being too green, Santorum as not having the economic chops, and Huntsman as being too liberal. While I was initially attracted to Paul's economic libertarianism and even aspects of his isolationism, his performances in the debates left me wanting. Though his devoted fans may still cheer his outlandish statements, the rest of us see them as gaffes. I think his message could play well if carefully filtered, which is why Rand Paul is currently a senator. But Ron Paul, like Moses, will not be the one to enter the Promised Land. He is too old and has made one to many mistake to be President. Oh, and Perry. I ran kicking and screaming from him the moment I heard he was running. He is literally the worst possible presidential candidate ever. From his (or his wife's) Texas size ego, to his corrupt pay-for-play style of governance, to a lack of any brain power, to elementary school hissy fits and horrendously flawed debate performances, the man disgusts me. Should he become the nominee I will vote third party or as a last ditch measure *puke* vote for Obama in order to stop this raging megalomaniac.

That left three options - Romney, Cain, and Gingrich. And I really didn't want to have to support Romney. I thought back to why I supported Palin in the first place, and I came up with three simple criteria I wanted to see in the GOP nominee. 1) The nominee must have conservative solutions to save our country. 2) The nominee must have a proven record of being able to implement these solutions, even working with Democrats if necessary. 3) The nominee must have enough of a pragmatic streak to be able to beat Obama so that we can actually see change. It does no good to nominate a liberal who can beat Obama and yet continue his policies. It does no good to have conservative solutions and beat Obama yet not be able to get anything through congress. And it does no good to have a record of implementing conservative solutions yet not be able to beat Obama. All three criteria are essential in a nominee. Palin had them, and I had to carefully consider whether the remaining three contenders stacked up.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Romney's Embargoed Attack Ad

Mitt Romney released an attack ad attacking Rick Perry today but quickly chickened out. Fearing that it might soil his perfectly coiffed image, he pulled it off the internet. Or perhaps some internal polling came in showing that Perry was not helped as much as expected by the last debate (I didn't think it helped him at all.) Whatever the reason, if it's something Mitt Romney doesn't want seen, you can be sure I'm going to promote it. Here's the main part of the ad that Romney produced but doesn't want you to watch:

Sunday, October 16, 2011


So you say you don't like Mitt Romney? He's a two-timing dirty lying flip-flopping elitist rich establishment RINO politician who believes in only one thing - someone with the last name of Romney deserves to be president, and his dad was ROBBED! But how to stop him when you haven't settled on an alternative? The answer, my friends, is found in consolidation. It's Mitt Romney's worst nightmare. Right now, he'd love to continue playing conservative candidates against each other, promoting unelectable candidates, etc. His only path to victory is to split the other 75% of Republicans so much that he can squeak by with 25% comprised of the establishment and their unwitting dupes. You want to stop him? Time to cut the dead weight. Several tiers of candidates have emerged, with varying reasons for their support, or lack of it. Let's start at the bottom, and work our way up.

The Invisible Candidates:
Gary Johnson and Buddy Roemer are not even registering enough to be invited to debates. If they were being polled, I'm not sure if they are now. Real Clear Politics doesn't include them in its poll averages. Johnson is easy to explain. He's a libertarian pro-choicer, and any support he might have had is currently tied up with Ron Paul. He is not running to be president. He is running to inherit Paul's following when Paul, um, retires. At Paul's age, it won't be long. Is he still in the race? Nobody will even notice when he drops out.

Roemer has been doing his best to get some media attention, but appearing on all the left wing shows and embracing #OWS doesn't seem to be yielding dividends in the GOP primary. He too is not running for president, but rather to promote a single issue, getting money out of politics. He makes a great point, but ultimately that will not be enough to get him elected president. As the other major candidates either support the principle of corporate bailouts or are knee deep in corporate cash, I expect him to endorse Newt Gingrich soon.

Bottom tier:
Clearly, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman are in a close race for last place. Rarely does either ever poll above 2%. It is readily apparent that neither of these men will win the nomination, much less be president. The reason for this is that they are the candidates at either fringe of the Republican electorate. Huntsman, obviously, is on the extreme left of the party. He identified himself closely with Obama by working in his administration, and shrewd move or not on Obama's part, it was still Huntsman's decision to accept the ambassadorship to China. He takes many left wing positions, and although he has shown a glimmer of brillance on the economy, it is not enough. The GOP, especially in the age of the Tea Party and grassroots activism, is way too conservative for someone like Huntsman. That said, he's the one candidate that you should be doing everything to support. Why? Because any support he gains comes at "Mr. Inevitable" Romney's expense.

Santorum, on the other hand, is on the opposite side of the party. While everyone is clamoring for someone to fix the economy, he is trying to run on pure social conservatism and bomb-throwing condescension. He's a candidate for another time, and Republicans have grown weary of his antics. Time for him to go, and relinquish his 2% to someone with a realistic shot at winning.

No-Man's Land:
This is where Michele Bachmann finds herself in the polls. With a once promising Iowa straw poll win, she hasn't quite faded into oblivion yet. But as it has become increasingly obvious that she is not prepared to be president, all but the most dedicated have moved on. Bachmann is on the borderline of being considered an issue candidate. She is clearly running on rigid platform of evangelical orthodoxy on social issues and the Tea Party ideal of shrinking the size of the federal government. The problem is that she hasn't really articulated how to practically enact those ideals, and she's left herself open to the charge that she either doesn't have the ability to do so or just doesn't see the need. The only thing that would indicate she is attempting anything more than to promote these issues or gain a cabinet seat in Romney's administration is her vigorous attempt at fundraising - probably the only reason she's still at 5%. Michele Bachmann is not a serious candidate for president. She needs to be cut so her supporters can move on to someone who will actually criticize Romney instead of playing into his divide-and-conquer strategy.

2nd Tier:
These are candidates which have managed to amass a substantial following and/or big war chests, but are not viable candidates. They especially need to go so we can get on to the main event. Rick Perry is not ready for prime time. Although he managed, through some adept back room dealing and pay-for-play politics at its worst, to maintain an iron grip on the state of Texas for a decade, he has no longer been able to conceal his faults on the national stage. With a carefully crafted media image and a reputation for doling out favors to corporations in his good graces, he managed to roll out his campaign in a way so as to skyrocket in the polls and rake in a huge haul of cash. But as the campaign season has worn on his absolute lack of intelligence and seriousness has become apparent in the debates. The antsy boy scout can barely stammer out the soundbites his handlers have prepared for him. He's an empty suit propped up by the permanent political class. His rapid descent in the polls equals or surpasses his rapid rise. He only ran in the first place because his unhappy wife wanted a higher station in life, and now that she sees her chances to supplant Michelle as QUEEN OF THE WORLD dashed, she's lashing out at all those Christian-haters in the GOP for her husband's weaknesses. Slick Rick is burning out as fast as he started. While his massive war chest might allow him to ride his agonizing defeat all the way to the bitter end, I have a feeling his wife will have had enough much earlier. Only a few duped Texans are sticking around to witness the tragic spectacle.

The other second tier candidate is Ron Paul. Ron Paul, like Perry, is another Texan who has amassed a significant following and a good amount of money. More importantly, the money comes from a highly dedicated following and will keep flowing. In every other respect, though, Paul is the polar opposite of Perry. While Perry's problems stem from the pay-to-play culture he thrives in and his phoniness when it comes to being a conservative, Ron Paul's fatal flaw is that he is perhaps too honest, given some of his conspiratorial ramblings. While everybody loves his economic prescription and dedication to the Constitution, many of Paul's other positions have put him far outside the mainstream GOP. In some respects, this makes him an issue candidate, although the "Rlov3ution" he has put together points to a serious campaign, however futile. In fact, some recent polls have him tied with Bachmann at 5%. Still, it is unlikely that his guerrilla army would ever let him drop out or back someone else. The best course of action regarding Paul is to let him do his thing so as to keep his young devotees happy, but to attempt to persuade more serious voters to find a viable alternative to big government Romney.

1st Tier:
To make it into the first tier, you have to be someone who has the skills to do the job of president, someone who can go toe to toe with Obama on the issues, and someone who has a workable strategy to actually win the nomination. Money and organization, or the potential to rapidly develop them, are key. The 1st tier candidates are the ones that lesser candidates will eventually endorse. Obviously, Herman Cain and Mitt Romney are challenging each other for the front runner spot, and each have strengths and weaknesses I'll get into in a moment. Some may wonder, though, why I put Newt Gingrich in the first tier. There are actually a number of good reasons why he stands a decent chance of breaking out late. First, Newt Gingrich is smart. I mean truly genius, in every sense of the word. He's not just book smart, but alley cat smart too. And he has an actual record of fixing an economy. He is a walking brain, and he has been putting it to good use in securing the nomination. Although his campaign started out rough, with a few gaffes and some loss of staff, Gingrich has slowly been picking up steam since then with his debate performances. In a brilliant move, Gingrich, no doubt influenced by his knowledge of history, chose to run a very unorthodox, non-establishment, grassroots campaign, despite being a former Speaker of the House. This has pundits laughingly dismissing him as a washed up oddity from the 90's. Not so. Just as the Reagan revolution followed Carter, a grassroots awakening, fueled by Tea Party activism, has developed in the age of Obama. Shrewdly, Gingrich has distanced himself from a campaign tied to the big money establishment and the permanent political class they fund, and has instead opted to run on ideas, charisma, and novel grassroots approaches such as building a giant social media following via twitter. And he has used this following, coupled with his debate performances, to disseminate his brilliant ideas. Not only that, but he has carefully positioned himself against TARP, for auditing and reforming the Fed, and against bureaucrats like Bernanke wielding massive power in secret. He has offered limited support for #OccupyWallStreet sympathizers struggling to make ends meet in this economy. He understands that there is a populist resentment of big guys rigging the system, and he has intentionally positioned himself to pick up where Palin left off with crony capitalism. And that is why you can't count him out, despite his supposed "personal baggage". (Anybody remember Clinton's re-election? It's the economy, stupid.) Though at the moment he is deeply in debt and doesn't have much of a campaign organization to speak of, he has slowly been rising in the polls, now in third place, and stands to inherit much of Palin's former support which can't quite stomach Cain's allegiance to big business.

Which brings us to Cain, perhaps the most underestimated candidate of the 2012 election cycle. Cain not having the experience typical of presidential candidates these days, the establishment wrote him off completely. Although maybe not rising to the level of Gingrich's brilliance, Herman Cain is fairly intelligent, and more importantly, very street smart. I can't tell you how many times I've seen an impossibly difficult trap laid for him by the media from which he somehow escapes unscathed. (Romney is good at this too.) Many people think there's no way that Cain's "boomlet" will last, and this is of course the narrative that most other campaigns are pushing. However, there is good reason to doubt their supposed wisdom. First, Cain is not actually all that inexperienced. Yes, he has forty years of executive experience in business and people are looking for a non-politician. But I'm not just talking about that. Herman Cain has run for president before in 2000 (he dropped out when Bush entered the race). He ran, albeit unsuccessfully, for senate in Georgia in 2004. He was the chairman of the federal reserve branch in Kansas City. So he's no stranger to politics and government. Moreover, his training as a mathematician and a businessman has a allowed him to put together a massive machine that the establishment still hasn't fully grasped. First, he has some ties to the Koch brothers and Americans For Prosperity, including his campaign chairman. In fact, he worked for AFP from 2005-2011. His natural charisma and conservatism has made him a Tea Party favorite, giving him access to vast organizational networks. He has been able to leverage these connections, through his national campaign strategy, into a massive operation which is raising a million or so a week, and he will have no shortage of volunteers as his campaign picks up steam. The full brunt of this juggernaut will descend upon Iowa in the month or two ahead of the caucuses, and Mitt Romney will probably find himself blown away by Cain's strength there and increasingly in NH. This, despite Cain not having campaigned there much in the wake of a few staff kerfuffles a while back. A masterful win in Iowa followed by a strong second place showing in NH (or even winning it outright!) could set up a knockout punch in SC. Cain does have some downsides including supporting the concept of TARP and not seeing a problem with the Fed. Despite the 9-9-9 plan being more widely supported than the other campaigns would have you believe (simple, fair, and the deficit does need to be reduced somehow), the imposition of a massive national sales tax may cause some heartburn. It would probably need to be tweaked with rebates for low income voters and seniors, which would take away from its simplicity. His hard line on abortion will play great in the primary but may turn off independent voters, decreasing his electability. His big business ties may leave some skeptical that he'll represent the people over the special interests, but he has a good comeback by describing himself as a "Main street" instead of a "Wall Street" executive like Romney. (Come to think of it, didn't they both turn around companies by laying people off?) However, as far as the anti-Romney, he's the person with the strongest organization and best shot to take him down right now. Ultimately, conservative voters will need to make a choice between Cain and Gingrich if they wish to defeat Romney. In this age of engaged conservatism, GOP voters may be paying enough attention to make a tactical choice to support whoever is ahead come December or January so as not to split the anti-Romney vote.

Ah, Romney. The politician's politician. The guy who is able to rake you over the coals and convince you he's doing you a favor. His strategy is to simply wait out the rest of the field, and prove that he's the only one who can beat Obama. It seems strange, after the 2008 election, that he would double down on McCain's failed strategy of flip flopping, pandering, and dividing the conservative vote against him. Perhaps that is why his support is capped at 25%. Perhaps winning the nomination is more important to him than winning the presidency. The funny thing? He doesn't care. He'll tell you there are plenty of reasons not to vote for him. He just thinks that he can raise enough money, use his connections to push caucuses around, essentially game the system completely, in order to win. It's like he's laughing at you saying "Hey look what I can do. I can win the nomination and it has nothing to do with ideology. Despite your best efforts, I've rigged the system and there's nothing you can do about it." Well, it's time for conservatives who can't tolerate this blatant abuse of the system to start thinking strategically in order to defeat him. He's running on tactics, not ideas, and as such must be defeated in that venue. We must ensure that a viable alternative, either Cain or Gingrich, winds up with 35+% of the vote and has the resources and ability to win early primaries and caucuses. This is why it's time to amputate all of the minor candidates so we can get down to the business of putting together a top notch operation to thwart Romney's evil designs.