» Sorry guys, but Mitt’s it. It’s clear as ever this isn’t the position the GOP base wants to be in. To be clear, Romney’s polling lead is huge — Herman Cain came in second place with 20%, a full 18 points behind. The enthusiasm problem, however, as displayed by the discrepancy between his general support and those truly committed to him, should be a warning sign for Team Romney. Successful political figures usually need to inspire an extreme degree of loyalty amongst their base to weather the missteps, gaffes or scandals that usually occur over the course of a long campaign process. If it’s true that nearly 3/4ths of Romney’s New Hampshire supporters are still theoretically open to jumping ship? That’s a problem.
» All aboard the Cain Train! Republicans in North Carolina, Nebraska, and West Virginia want Herman Cain as their nominee—he leads all of his opponents in a new PPP poll. A Washington Post/ABC poll released today showed Cain tied with Perry for second nationally, and two polls last week also showed evidence of Cain Fever sweeping the nation. This seems to be at the expense of Rick Perry, who’s collapsing just as fast as Cain is rising (in North Carolina alone, more than half of his supporters have abandoned him, and a Fox News poll last week showed him losing ten points in a month). Romney is still the (perpetually-endangered) frontrunner, but there’s a plausible argument to be made that Cain is now in the top-tier of candidates. Of course, the same thing was once said of both Donald Trump and Michele Bachmann, so take that as you will.
The candidates have taken the stage, and tonight’s Republican debate is about to begin. If you missed the memo, we’ll be co-liveblogging it with our buddies at DC Decoder, so be sure to check them out as well (which you should already be doing anyway, because they’re a fantastic blog). And so, without further ado…
» Just a reminder of how difficult it is to predict the outcomes of presidential primaries six months before Iowa. It’s also instructive to recall another Southern Republican who, four years ago, was seen as a savior by the GOP establishment. He announced his candidacy late in the game, and immediately vaulted to the top of the polls. That candidate was Fred Thompson.
[Pawlenty] choked at a critical moment when he wouldn’t repeat the criticisms he’s made of Romney to his face…if you criticize someone when they’re not around, be ready to say it to their face. If you’re not, you’re just not for real.Josh Marshall at TPM • On Pawlenty’s refusal to repeat the phrase “ObamneyCare,” which he coined last Sunday, during tonight’s debate. source (via • follow)