If Herman Cain gets out of the presidential race or collapses, who benefits?
Cain’s supporters are among the most anti-establishment in the party. They are looking for something different and exciting, which begs the question: Who in the GOP field is new and exciting? Answer: nobody.
Newt Gingrich has always been viewed as a rebel, but he is the most established Washington veteran in the race. Mitt Romney has never served in Washington, but no one thinks of him as unique, exciting or an outsider. Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann have not reached a level of credibility that would attract large numbers of new supporters. Ron Paul clearly appeals to the anti-establishment wing, but much of Cain’s support was a result of his enthusiasm and positive disposition. Paul’s followers are intense, but they’re not a happy group.
GOP pollster Ed Goeas, in a battleground poll three weeks ago, asked Cain supporters for their second choice: 7 percent said Romney, 7 percent said Gingrich, 5 percent said Paul and 3 percent went for Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Cain’s support has always been shallow, and he wasn’t ever destined to be the nominee. Hopefully, Cain supporters won’t be disillusioned and call it quits in the GOP primaries. All the candidates will treat the Cain matter carefully, and not grasp for his supporters. Each campaign still hopes for his endorsement. The sooner he decides to exit the race and commit to someone else, the more meaningful his support would be.