If this story is accurate, Herman Cain will not win Iowa.

(HT: Hot Air Headlines) Herman Cain will not even come close to winning Iowa.  This is the takeaway passage from the article that Team Cain needs to read and address right now.

Cain last visited Iowa on Oct. 22, and Tuel said the next time he expects the candidate back in the state is Nov. 19. Tuel also noted that plans are in the works for an early December bus tour through the state, much like the one Cain took ahead of the August Ames Straw Poll. Campaign sources said the tour might include a “mega town hall meeting,” with thousands in attendance.

During a lunchtime visit this week to Cain’s headquarters, located in a shopping center in the Des Moines suburb of Urbandale, reporters from ABC News found about a dozen volunteers telephoning potential supporters, many of them older Iowans. When ABC returned in the evening — a time when local campaign offices would usually be packed with an after-work crowd — only two volunteers remained in the office. They said that others were at home making placards for Friday night’s Iowa Republican Party Dinner, which Cain does not plan to attend.

ABC News visited the same campaign headquarters last month and found the office quiet and empty.

That passage represents a kindly ABC News writer/editor team – yes, they do exist – coming as close as they dare to frantically waving off the campaign while screaming “DANGER! DANGER, HERMAN CAIN!”  Because you can talk about national campaigns and moneybombs and heck, even polling all you like: but if you’re not currently being forced to squeeze volunteers into your campaign offices any which way then you’re doing it wrong.

Let me explain.  In 2004, Howard Dean had money.  Howard Dean had polls.  Howard Dean had a national campaign going.  What Howard Dean did not have was a functional Iowa organization designed to bring people to the precinct polling stations and keep them there for up to two hours, which is why he came in third place.  And to forestall the immediate objection: in 2003 Dean supporters were more than happy to explain why the lack of a ground organization didn’t matter, too.  Up to the the moment where Dean lost.

Free advice for Team Cain: in that article Cain’s Iowa campaign manager says “Of course Mr. Cain cannot move to Iowa any more than he can move to New Hampshire or South Carolina, and he’s got a busy schedule.”  I suggest that they convince the candidate to abandon that Of course and get him to Iowa for the next two months.  Because if Cain loses Iowa at this point it is going to have an impact infinitely worse than if he had never been expected to win Iowa in the first place.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: What?  Oh, yes, the system is absurd.  Particularly the expectations that Iowan voters have with regard to Presidential candidates.




  • Rob Crawford says:

    Who cares? Perry isn’t going to win Iowa, either.
    So Romney-WhoCares 2012 will be the ticket, and we’ll get another four years of Obama. (Why? Because no one’s going to exert themselves to support or vote for a guy who has at one time or another AGREED WITH EVERYTHING OBAMA’S DONE.) A Republican Congress will be a small comfort, because Emperor Obama has already said he can rule just fine without those pesky Constitutional limitations.

    • Moe_Lane says:

      Rob: actually, I’m scoring Iowa right now as Romney in first, Perry a surprising second, and Bachmann/Cain fighting it out for third. Although if Perry doesn’t sustain this new tone in his future debates that will quickly become Romney first, Bachmann/Cain fighting for second, and Perry fourth.

  • John LaRosa says:

    Everyone’s a pundit these days…and everyone wants to prove how smart they are by giving unsolicited advice to the Cain Campaign. FACT: Herman Cain has been to Iowa more frequently than Mitt Romney in the several weeks. Where’s the unsolicited advice for Mitt? FACT: Cain visited Iowa on 24 separate occasions before Ames. FACT: Cain is currently running an Iowa-specific fundraiser called “The Iowa Fund”…and he’s more than half way to his 11/9 goal of $999K in just two days. FACT: Despite recent smears, Cain is in a statistical dead heat with Romney in Iowa. FACT: Yesterday’s Rasmussen survey has him leading the field by 3% nationally. FACT: In another key early primary state, South Carolina, Cain holds a double digit lead. FACT: “Pundits” tend to ignore facts when they don’t support their false premises. The false premise in this case is that there is a set formula that must be followed precisely for a GOP primary candidate to earn the nomination.

  • Moe_Lane says:

    …Well, alrighty then.

  • Chip Jones says:

    Moe, I think what is going on here is that new paradigms are coming into play. Using the old ones, although comfortable, are incorrect. It’s time to change your optic and tryu to understand why he’s successful, rather than overlay false premises and predict falilure in the face of success.

    • Moe_Lane says:

      Chip: and how is Herman Cain’s success actually different than Howard Dean’s at the same point? – Because this is my third online campaign cycle, and every campaign cycle I get told that the rules are different now.

  • Julie says:

    As a Cain Supporter in Iowa, I have to say your sources are weak! Did anyone bother to stop inside and talk to anyone? I will have you know that I phone call DAILY on behalf of Herman Cain, and I do it from HOME. Not all of our volunteers go into the Urbandale Headquarters (NOT in a shopping center). When ABC took that picture, they pointed to camera to a corner of the room where no one was working – how could they have gotten into the building if it were empty? Faulty and misleading reporting, if you wish to be informed, ask someone who is actually there! Herman Cain is running STRONG in Iowa and if the POSITIVE results I’m receiving for support via phone calls is any indication, it will be by a LANDSLIDE!!!

  • Kevin DeCoster says:

    Moe – don’t quit your day job.

  • BigGator5 says:

    Yeah, I also don’t know why Cain isn’t in Iowa today. 🙁

    • Moe_Lane says:

      …Yes, Julie, that’s the ABC News article that triggered the Hot Air Headline and my post. Would you mind terribly reading the posts and clicking the links before you comment on them? Thanks.

  • John LaRosa says:

    Moe–To address your question to Chip Jones, I don’t think any of the other campaigns in previous “online” cycles did much that resembles what Cain’s team and, perhaps more significantly, his supporters are doing. As you know, social media and the blogosphere have evolved dramatically since the days of Howard Dean. Grassroots activism and the organization thereof has also changed quite a bit. I think they’re “doing more with less” because they embrace these changes and “think outside the box” (My apologies…I hate cliches, but I’m being lazy here.) For example, I am a long-time political observer myself and I’ve never seen the level of “self organizing” that I’m witnessing from Cain supporters. You might want to contact JD Gordon, Mark Block or Michael Johnson at the Cain campaign to see if they’ll discuss this in further detail, but there’s a lot going on that the casual observer,(or even the mighty Karl Rove), might not see or understand.

    • Moe_Lane says:

      John: finally did some research, huh? Yeah, I agree: Moe Lane of is worth a good deal more politeness than Moe Lane of apparently was.

  • jetty says:

    But if Dean had had a decent ground game in Iowa, we never would have seen this:

  • Christy Waters says:

    I think the “takeaway passage” isn’t the one that you referenced, but the first half of the article that you left out. The Politico hit job has stirred up a hornet’s nest among the people, who recognize a smear when they see one. It’s galvanized the support by those who were already in his camp, and it’s attracted even more who were on the fence. If Herman Cain’s fundraising continues to take on the rocket fuel that it has in the past week, any staffing shortages won’t be an issue.

  • Andrew W. Pearson says:

    1) As John LaRosa pointed out, Moe Lane is not the only pundit or would-be political analyst to misunderstand the facts and draw incorrect conclusions.

    2) “You can’t do it that way, because it’s always been done this way,” when applied to political analysis, is a recipe for the failure of said analysis.

    3) Political campaign comparisons are often faulty, especially when the candidates are as different as Howard Dean and Herman Cain. This one certainly is.

    4) What credentials does Moe Lane have, that qualify him as a political analyst? What education and training has he had? How many political campaigns has he managed, or been a part of the strategic or management team?

    5) Does Moe Lane make a habit of relying on the political reporting of ABC News?


  • Scott Osborn says:

    What you miss, my friend, is the fact that this is 2011. Campaigns can do an infinitesimal amount outside of an office than what they could accomplish even 4 years ago. Herman Cain has an outstanding Grassroots army working in Iowa.

    This smear attack was going to come even if they had to make it all up. Better to get it over with now during the primary. No matter what the hurdle, Cain has jumped over it running. Cancer,Tight Campaign budget, low name recognition, the risk of putting a bold plan on the table, the abortion smear, lack of a major campaign machine, now this. The job of raising name recognition is done. They finished that for us. Now we can get on to other things. Even democrats and liberals are getting behind Cain. They like that he is not a politician. I have been seeing it in the tweets and in the comments. Mr. Cain is on fire! Donations are through the roof.

    All polls done after Sunday show Cain still gaining momentum, not faltering.

    • Moe_Lane says:

      Scott Osborn: and four years ago it was 2007, and I was told a version of this about Ron Paul (he didn’t have the polling). And eight years ago it was 2003, and I was told this about Howard Dean (he did have the polling).

      If the intent here is to persuade me that things are different now, or to project confidence, it is not succeeding.

  • Brad Marston says:


    You might be right. I have been involved in a few campaigns myself. One of note was Scott Brown’s victory in 2010. (I ran the Boston region for the nomination signature drive and was a volunteer coordinator for his Boston office.) 30 days out he was 30 points down and we couldn’t give away a seat in our phone banking room.)

    I was also a volunteer for the McCain campaign in 2007/2008. I did a lot online but also traveled to Manchester NH at least weekly for months. Until the last 2-3 weeks, McCain’s NH HQ was a ghost town.

    I think what most analysts are missing because they can’t see it is the level of self organization and lateral communication by volunteers. There are hundreds of people from all over the country making Voter ID calls into Iowa and New Hampshire. On the ground, volunteers have organized into 10 regions and have leaders in virtually every county.

    I have never seen this level of self organization on the Republican side and believe that ultimately it will rival that of Obama in 2008.

    Just my thoughts and observations.

  • John LaRosa says:

    Moe–I know who you are and generally enjoy your work. I am sorry if you found my first post to be impolite. It actually was intended to target a larger audience of bloggers and pundits, many of whom have been using a similar “conventional” argument about Cain’s chances in Iowa and other early primary states. That’s why I brought Karl Rove into the discussion, because if he’s not in the tank for one of the “establishment” candidates, he’s married to “conventional wisdom”.

    I reread my first post and changed my tone because, I agree, it did sound a little harsh. With that said, and speaking of, maybe I’ll go “troll” Erick Erickson for a while and give him a hard time about his frequent hit pieces on Cain. I am still waiting for Erick’s new hashtag to appear in his Twitter feed: #RedStateForRick

  • antisocial says:

    Funny how everyone is saying this cycle if different and that physical presence does not matter. A question to all: What percentage of Republicans go online? Or even bother to get their political info from websites?

    I guess less than radio?

    A lesson from 2008/2010 – Ground game matters.

    PS: Most posts here feel like online political operatives for Cain campaign. I haven’t yet seen anybody make a convincing case except for calling a hit job, smear and all that nonsense.

    PS: Cain and his supporters can ignore free advice and ignore the post 🙂

  • qixlqatl says:

    Everything else may be great, as far as organization, but there is no substitute for “going on the hustings”.. The candidate and members of his core team need to be face to face with Iowans as much as possible.

  • Chip Jones says:

    Moe, Sorry it took so long to answer but I had to travel to my daughter’s playoff game today. Being home, let me answer, and mine is a taqd different than my other friends here. simply, the paradigm shift THIS cyce is to a person who has NEVER been a politician, but instead has been a wildly successful businessman. He is running this campaign like a successful business, including NEVER showing red ink. I find it more than interesting the parallels in strategy between THIS campaign and his success at Godfathers. Take, as an example, the infamous “Mark block ad”. At a similar time in his reorganization of Godfathers he began wildly unconventional ads that got attention, not for their high production costs or their prime time purchases, but because OTHERS got interested in them and replayed them on the news. His meager advertising budget was enhanced by the interest of the MSM in how uncoinventional they were. Little cost, high exposure. Sound familiar? It is NOT his only one. Has it occured to YOU that he may have extended a few debates that other “old skool” candidates would have tried to end? Maybe to get free “name recognition” press? Knowing full well that the American people long for a leader who says, “I don’t know, I’ll get back to you.” Or, “I was wrong, I’m fixing it.” It’s what guys in business do every day…..and it makes them millions. Seems to be making Mr. Cain millions too.

  • Brad Marston says:

    You seem to have missed my post on what is going on on the ground for Herman Cain in Iowa.

  • John LaRosa says:

    Anti-social: “Ground games” get better when people connect and share information online. Nobody said physical presence doesn’t matter. Money is important to the ground game also. Early on, the Cain campaign was running on a shoe-string budget and they committed (successfully) to staying debt free. You can’t have yard signs, push cards, offices, phone systems, etc. without money. Now, thanks to the recent positive media exposure after the Florida Straw Poll, and negative media exposure due to Politico’s hit piece, money is pouring in. That will bolster what’s already happening on the ground in Iowa. Cain will be there frequently between now and the caucuses…and people will be surprised at how many supporters will be there to greet him.

  • […] would you say if someone predicted that Herman Cain would crater in Iowa? Moe Lane’s post stops short of that but it doesn’t stop that short of it. First, here’s what ABC News […]

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