The field for the GOP nomination is starting to take form. We have several serious, viable candidates. Herman Cain is one of these. And over the next year, they will all have the opportunity to present themselves to the voters, and make their case as to why they should be the nominee. This process is good for the party ( it will ensure that we nominate a real conservative) and good for the ultimate nominee ( it will battle test that individual for a grueling general election campaign against a formidable sitting President.)
If Cain is able ( sorry, that's a bad pun) to best make the case for himself, and against Obama, then he will be the nominee. But in 2012, I do believe that whomever emerges will have the near unanimious support of the GOP base and the Tea party movement. The "broken-glass" voters are back; eager to vote Obama out, and to elect a conservative president who reflects their values and respects their wishes.
In case you haven't noticed, Herman Cain happens to be black, though happily it's of no import in the GOP nominating process. However, it's not to early to contemplate the possibility of two black men running against each other, and what that might portend.
Blacks came out in record numbers for Obama in 2008, and overwhelmingly voted for him. The Democrats have long enjoyed the near monolithic, blind support of the black community. However, were Cain to run against Obama, that could substantially change.
It has long been noted that the majority of blacks are fairly conservative socially, yet the Democrats they keep electing embrace, and push, the most radical social agenda imaginable. Blacks would benefit the most from education reforms ( charter schools) yet the Democrats' core constituency, the education unions, vehemently oppose it.
So, if it was a black man running against a black man, could that all change? It wouldn't be about race, it wouldn't be about blacks voting against supposedly "one of their own," in effect shoving the first black elected President out the Oval Office door. It might well be about issues.
Cain right now does not enjoy widespread support among GOP voters. Part of that is due to a lack of name recognition. That will change in the coming months. More importantly, everyone who hears him, learns about him, seems to be quite impressed. He is very likeable, not an insignificant quality in a candidate. If he can make his case effectively, support will coalesce and grow around him.
I make no pretentions at being a political analyst. (I'll wait for Jay Cost to have at it on Real Clear Politics.) I leave it to others to dive into the electoral weeds.. But let's consider a few statistics.:
In 2008, the black vote was 13% of the electorate, and 96% of them voted for Obama. It was a major component of Obama's victory. Political analysts have already begun to ask if they would turn out again at the same rate in 2012? The newness factor is now gone. Cain could impact this in two ways.
Historically, about 85-90% of the black vote has gone to the Democratic nominee. If we assume that Cain could return the black vote to that level, then we've already made headway. If he could peel away another 5-10% of the black vote, because of the issues, then that's a very serious sea change. Cain might also inadvertently depress the overall black turnout, as some black voters for whom race is the key criteria, might well stay at home. All of which is very good for the GOP.
Consider that in 2008, three states, Florida, North Carolina, and Indiana, were all decided by a few percentage points. The parameters of the change in the black vote alluded to above, ALONE would have given those states to the GOP. And these same factors would effect many statewide contests in 2012.
If Cain is able to win the GOP nomination, it will be because of his position on the key issues, and the force of his personality in presenting them, and himself, to the voters. And as the nominee he will enjoy unparalled support. And he could well be the candidate that the Democrats fear the most.