Herman Cain Sheds Dark-Horse Status in Crucial Florida

Florida delegates just amply demonstrated Silver’s point. Herman Cain was on the ground in Orlando by Friday morning, just after a sterling debate performance in Tampa the night before. Cain, the nomination underdog, worked hard Friday and Saturday, speaking extemporaneously to small groups of delegates -- groups that reportedly grew larger and larger as the weekend progressed. And Cain was evidently winning voters over one at a time the way candidates used to do it -- in person. They call it “retail politics.”

Retail politics is one of Rick Perry’s greatest strengths, too. But Perry was apparently resting on his polling laurels, choosing to fly out of Orlando instead of sticking around to engage with the Presidency 5 delegates. Not smart.

Rick Perry was leading in Florida polling by 9 points going into Thursday’s Tampa debate.Perry did so badly in that debate and Cain did so extraordinarily well that much of Perry’s support weakened in the aftermath. Florida’s delegates were ripe for the picking and Cain saw his opportunity to set the Texas brush afire with 9-9-9 common sense. People can call Cain’s win in Florida anything they wish but at the very least, it demonstrates his keen political instincts without ever having won a single election.

Cain still has the greatest line in the history of politics on that so-called weakness. When asked about his lack of political office holding experience in the first Republican debate, Cain got his characteristic fox look, gave a sly smile, raised his fatherly eyebrows and bellowed: Everyone running the government now has held elected office before. How’s that working out for you?

If there’s one thing Americans admire more than straight-shooting rhetoric, it’s an underdog with a genuine winning spirit. Herman Cain isn’t sitting on the bench warming his backside from the glow of his own press and hedging his debate responses with focus-group-approved lines. And because he’s fighting hard, believes in himself, and is willing to go head to head in selling himself to voters, he is moving on up and out of the pack at the back.

Floridian delegates got over their “not electable” reticence and took a chance with Cain. Cain says this is what you call “momentum,” and he’s turned around failing businesses enough to know momentum by its scent.

If Herman Cain smells electoral momentum coming off his Florida win, I’m inclined to take him very seriously.

Whoever said the next Ronald Reagan had to be a governor?