Herman Cain Is Leading the Polls in Iowa Without Really Even Trying

Who's winning, who's losing, and why.
Oct. 21 2011 7:27 PM

The Cain Mutiny

Can Herman Cain win Iowa without campaigning hard there? Iowans hope not.

(Continued from Page 1)

“He’s running for president of the United States, not the president of Iowa,” says Lockwood, who is amiable even by Iowa standards. She says the campaign has been organizing in the key Republican areas and spreading the word through social media. The campaign isn’t likely to launch a big wave of commercials. The operation “is very lean. He is a business man. He doesn’t spend what he doesn’t have.”

In the end, says Lockwood, “I would be a little surprised if we don’t bring in a caucus win.” She bases that on the enthusiasm she’s seen from Iowa voters. One person saw her at Wal-Mart shopping in a Cain T-shirt and asked to volunteer. “It’s just a yay-positive spiral upward,” she says, describing the power of Cain’s appeal to the simple. “He has ‘kid logic’ that can’t be argued with. The example I use is my daughter. She was rinsing off her feet in the water in Florida, and I said, ‘You’re getting your pants wet.’ She looked at me and said ‘That’s what water does, Mom.’ That was so Herman Cain-esque.”

Advertisement

Organizations aren’t simply necessary to shuttle voters to the caucuses. They help put out brush fires, too. Cain recently caused himself a problem on the issue of abortion. When asked about his belief that abortion should not be legal even in the case of rape or incest, he said that in the case of rape, ultimately the decision was a personal one. Santorum, who is something of a town crier when it comes to responding first to his opponent’s mistakes said the stance was “the quintessential pro-choice position on abortion.” Cain has since clarified his position, but the Susan B. Anthony list, a group of conservative women who oppose abortion rights, blasted him in an email.

Cain also had to walk back his claim that he would release prisoners at Guantanamo Bay in exchange for U.S. hostages. One former staffer says that these examples show that Cain will talk himself out of his positions if you give him enough time. And Cain has also emphasized the details of his 9-9-9 tax plan to respond to criticism: In Detroit Friday highlighting “empowerment zones” where taxes would be lower, he said in certain instances it would be a “9-0-9 plan.”

For all of the conventional wisdom about the necessity of campaigning hard in Iowa, there are plenty of candidates in both parties who have done the spade work and come up empty. Lamar Alexander and John Edwards wound up faltering because they’d done so much work in Iowa they didn’t meet expectations. The same happened to Romney in 2008, which is why he’s approaching the state with caution now. (He’s only been to Iowa six times.) If the current two top contenders in the polls in Iowa wind up doing well, while states like Nevada and Florida scramble the early-selection process, 2012 may be remembered as the year that Iowa’s pre-eminent position finally cracked.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Medical Examiner

Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?

Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The World’s Human Rights Violators Are Signatories on the World’s Human Rights Treaties

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 12:44 AM We Need More Ben Bradlees His relationship with John F. Kennedy shows what’s missing from today’s Washington journalism.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 11:44 PM Driving in Circles The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.