For Cain, the Truth Won't Matter
Like anyone watching the 2012 GOP primary race this week, or watching cable news, or reading the paper, or listening to talk radio, or breathing, in between the stories of anarchists on Wall Street, I've been keeping on eye on Herman Cain. Everyone has a bad week in politics now and then, but for Cain this may be the beginning of the end. Here's the news flash: it doesn't matter if he sexually harassed anyone. The truth won't matter. Cain's numbers in the polls reflect the fact that he's a likable and virtually unknown commodity in a crowded field of GOP candidates. Voters love someone who is new and exciting. They appreciate someone who walks onto the stage and speaks his mind because he presents the impression he's got nothing to lose. They eat it up. Cain's newly-found front-runner status demonstrates that.
Voters are also willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. That's why one accusation or even two might have been survivable. GOP primary voters, particularly values voters would have chalked it up to gossip. But now it looks like a pattern of bad behavior and that the primary voters won't forgive so easily. This isn't a rumor any longer. Lawyers for Cain's employer were involved, there were multiple accusations from multiple women and settlements have been paid.
Where there's smoke, there's fire and Cain's campaign is fully engulfed at the moment. This likability factor is going to take a huge hit. His 999 plan is getting kicked around by not only his opponents but economists and other thought leaders as unrealistic at best. Cain's shifting explanations regarding these incidents is also symptomatic of other larger problems. It's worth mentioning that despite Cain's surge in the polls, the campaign still lacks a BOTH human and financial capital to run an effective effort. You need good people and money. You don't just walk into Florida and win a primary.
Presidential campaigns are more emotional than rational in their character and they're marathons not sprints. Cain's harrassment problems will ding his most compelling attributes - people liked him, while at the same time not knowing anything about him. If people feel disappointed, the numbers won't survive and neither will the campaign.