Herman Cain pulled off a major upset by winning the Florida Presidency 5 Straw Poll, doing so in a very convincing manner. The former Godfather’s Pizza CEO captured 37 percent of the vote, while Perry took 15 percent and Romney took 14 percent.
I can make the claim that I accurately predicted the top three finish well before the totals were announce, except for one minor detail... the correct order. I had the finish as Romney, Perry and then Cain.
Of course, had I factored in the response Cain got everywhere he went Friday, including the near pandemonium that ensued when he visited the P5 Tea Party Hospitality Suite Friday morning, it may have given me reason to be more optimistic, but I suppose I may have over estimated the power and influence of the 'establishment'. Or did I? More on that in a bit.
Others questioned me putting Romney at the top, reasoning that there didn't seem to be much support for him among the P5 delegates. I responded that Perry had done considerable damage to himself in Thursday's debate and there were a lot of voters who were not yet quite convinced that he was their guy, but were leaning hard in his direction that simply walked away after that. Where I erred is in that I assumed these supporters, many of whom make up the base of the GOP party machine, would drift naturally toward Romney.
As for Perry's status now, the media will continue to peddle that it was Perry's poor debating skills that did him in. The truth is his decision to stand behind his actions as Governor of Texas to offer in state tuition to illegal immigrants and refer to those who believe we are a nation of laws, not of men as "heartless" is the real culprit - but you won't hear much about that in the media.
In reality, Perry is in trouble. Yesterday's results were not a knock out blow by any means and he has plenty of time to recover, however, I predict you've seen the last of Rick Perry as front runner. He seemed content to run on his boyish good looks and that devilish little smile, appealing to the 'American Idol' component in far too many of us - which may have worked in a different era, but not in these days of the tea party.
So what does Herman Cain's victory mean? That will depend on the bounce he gets in the national polls. The media will still be reluctant to embrace Cain, but he's just gotten a lot harder to ignore. To elevate his candidacy to the next level, though, he must continue to climb in the polls over the next few weeks.
Romney will probably benefit most by Cain's showing yesterday as he should reclaim the title of frontrunner, but such a development will be short lived. Despite all the money he has raised and the fact that he has been running for President since 2007, he just doesn't satisfy the hunger on the right.
Perhaps, the most important meaning of Herman Cain's win is the clear sign that regardless of who the media and the party establishment push at us, we the people will have a say in who the Republican nominee will be for President.
Which brings me back to the earlier comment about the GOP party base. There has been lots of talk in the media about a split in the Republican Party between the 'old guard' and the 'new' grassroots element. A split that does exist and was very evident to anyone walking the halls of the Peabody Hotel the past few days.
However, this split is not nearly as destructive as the Left may hope, nor is it as simple as I just stated. There is a growing faction of "in-betweeners" who've come to see the tea party as non-threatening and see the virtues of the movement as a good thing for the party, those who've been around long enough to witness first hand the frailties of the existing party 'machine'.
I submit that these "in-between'ers" have learned from the tea party that party loyalty to chosen candidates can be bucked and the sky will not fall. And this is the faction that joined hands with the tea party yesterday and propelled Herman Cain to victory.
For now, party loyalty is still critical for political career aspirations, particularly at the state and local levels, but the time's they are fast a'changing. And that's why the aforementioned split is not nearly as destructive as the Left wants it to be because the most obvious of the frailties of the 'old guard' is it's desperate need to survive.
That refined ability to bend to the prevailing winds of public opinion, as Adam Hasner so aptly displays, just as a willow gently bends in the spring air. And that ensures that the 'old guard' will only resist to the point that their relevancy remains assured.
As a dear friend said to me as we discussed the overwhelming response Thursday and Friday to the P5 Tea Party Hospitality Suite; "Built it and they will come".