Gallup has some interesting numbers out on the presidential race. With the usual caveat that this is only one set of polls, over the past two months he has moved from trailing a generic Republican by 8 points to being even. The figures among independents are what is really striking:
What happened in the interim? Why, the Republican primary race, of course. Americans have gotten a look at what the GOP is offering, and it ain't pretty. Unlike a few months ago, when the pollster asks about supporting "the Republican Party's candidate for president," there are particular individuals who come to mind. There's that wide-eyed radical woman from Minnesota, that Texas Ted Baxter, that ignoramus pizza guy whom lots of women say made crude advances toward them, that robotic corporatist. There are no more fantasy candidates—all the candidates are real.
I couldn't help think back to the Democratic primaries of four years ago. If you'll recall, it was certainly a brawl, with plenty of charges, counter-charges, distractions, non-issues, and things blown out of proportion, just as there always are. But it was also an extremely meaty affair, with nearly all the candidates -- particularly the last two left standing -- demonstrating themselves to be serious, thoughtful people who understood policy and could make intelligent arguments about the remarkably detailed programs they offered. Think back to the debates between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and then imagine sticking Rick Perry or Herman Cain in between them.
On the topic of Cain, this weekend's New York Times Magazine has an interesting story by T.A. Frank about him, in which Cain explains just where he got his remarkable grasp of policy from. Turns out it's the radio program he used to host: "I can honestly say that if I hadn't been on the radio, I wouldn't have been as familiar with the issues as I am now," Cain says. "I believe that having that program was God's way of forcing me to understand the critical issues confronting our nation." This is from someone who has without question shown himself to be more ignorant of the substance of "the critical issues confronting our nation" than any major party candidate for president in memory. If that was God's way of getting him up to speed, God really needs to rethink His pedagogical methods. Like maybe He could have delivered unto Cain a newspaper.