It Has Been One Month Since Sarah Palin Called Herman Cain "The Flavor of the Week"

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 28 2011 11:53 AM

It Has Been One Month Since Sarah Palin Called Herman Cain "The Flavor of the Week"

MANCHESTER, NH - SEPTEMBER 05: Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin speaks at a Tea Party Express rally on September 5, 2011 at Veteran's Memorial Park in Manchester, New Hampshire. The rally is part of the 'Reclaiming America' bus tour traveling through 19 states and visiting 29 cities before arriving in Tampa, Florida for a presidential debate co-sponsored by CNN on September 12. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images

It was late in Fox News's prime time on September 27 that she told Greta Van Susteren this:

Take Herman Cain. He’s doing so well right now. I guess you could say, with all due respect, he’s the flavor of the week.

Since then we've had two presidential debates, and Cain's survived them. When Palin made her comment, Cain was at 5.5 percent in the RealClearPolitics national poll average. The next day, a Fox News poll would peg him at 17 percent; right now, he's at 25 percent in the polling average.

Palin's lack of faith was amusing, but not uncommon. John Dickerson writes today on why Cain's surge isn't going to fade so fast. (One reason I'd add here is that Cain already had a boomlet, back in May, and he's experiencing his second boost.)

Perhaps the thickest part of the cushion for Cain is that his conservative voters don't have anywhere else to go. Michele Bachmann was eclipsed by Perry. That isn't going to happen to Cain. There aren't any eclipsing figures left. Gingrich is having a slight burble of resurgence but he's unlikely to become the new flavor; one of the qualities of being a flavor of the month is that people don't know much about you. Gingrich, for better or worse, is the best known of the bunch. Perry has a long uphill slog to regain what Cain took from him, which will be hard to do in part because Cain is more appealing to voters.

How do we know that Cain is more appealing? Gallup's polling on affinity for candidates found that Cain, consistently, had the broadest appeal to Republicans. Dan Balz locked that CW in amber this week with this story about a focus group that was extremely warm on Cain and saw Perry as a bully. A lot of that is just native to the two men -- Cain is possibly the most good-natured national candidate I've ever seen -- but part of it is related to how they've handled the issues that annoyed their bases. When Perry was challenged on immigration, he said that anyone who opposed his college tutition plan "didn't have a heart." We didn't even get to discuss the merits of the plan, just the fact of Perry's disregard for critics. Cain's big gaffe this month was a mushy abortion answer to Piers Morgan, which he immediately tried to apologize for and clean up. It did some damage, but not Perry-level damage.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 


Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.


Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
Brow Beat
Sept. 21 2014 2:00 PM Colin Farrell Will Star in True Detective’s Second Season
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.