Who wins Cain's piece of the pie?

Herman Cain at a South Carolina event 2 December 2011 What will a Herman Cain-sized hole do to the Republican field?

Herman Cain's turn as overnight sensation was already done, but his exit could still be important.

The question is where his supporters go now.

It has been a feature of this Republican race that while Mitt Romney jogs along in first or second place, a series of shooting stars have briefly outshone him before fading and losing their lustre.

Newt Gingrich is not merely the latest "anti-Mitt" candidate. He is the last.

Why? Michele Bachmann or Rick Perry could rise again. Rick Santorum or Jon Huntsman could have their day in the sun.

But I doubt it.

Ron Paul? I am less inclined to rule that out, and I expect him to do well in Iowa.

But I don't see him breaking through to be the main challenger to Romney.

If Cain's voters in the main go for Newt Gingrich, as pollsters think they will, it would be an important and significant boost to the Newt surge.

If they divide up more equally among the rest of the field, it is good for Romney.

Fans of a nomination fight will point to this forced exit as the primary process living up to its purpose.

An unvetted candidate who might have survived a couple of weeks of campaigning couldn't take the strain of this long, drawn-out process.

Better now for Republicans than in the middle of the presidential contest itself.

But it is also true that Cain has been done in by allegations of peccadilloes, ones that he emphatically denies, rather than doubts about his simple-to-remember, more-difficult-to-implement economic plan 9-9-9, or his uncertain grasp of foreign policy.

But this part of the race is at least more about character than policy.

Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell North America editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Two things forced this candidate out:
    1. Multiple accusations of leaving his marriage and the candidate's inappropriate response to the same. Having such a thin skin is not conducive to effective public service.
    2. Clear lack of knowledge regarding American foreign relations. To have no knowledge of the sitting president's performance in a continuing was is a disaster.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    After all the pre election fever and all the hope before the Obama presidency, it has not materialised into any sort of change, any sort of hope, or even any sort of new beginning.

    It won't really make very much difference who is elected.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Cain down--Newt to go.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    It is obvious that so far none of the candidates commands the level of confidence in the now enormously diverse Republican supporters that Obama will be beaten. Unlike Obama all have unresolved dubious history whether it is personal issues or political background. What is astonishing is many ordinary Americans are still willing to support the moneyed elite who have hijacked the political economy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    People sometimes complain that the American presidential campaigns run on for too long. Not true. This is EXACTLY one of the reasons why they go on as long as they do: to weed out the hucksters, the amateurs and those who would be a liability to themselves and their party. Think of how dangerous it would be if Hermie had actually been allowed access to the levers of real power via a snap election.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    He wasn't forced out by anyone but himself. Everyone knows that when you run for office, you go under the microscope. Dirt shows up under the microscope. Cain was dirty, so he's out. Too bad, he had the right politics, just not the right personal moral values.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Its a shame that this fine black american candidate has been forced out in this manner


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