Published November 11, 2011
The unwritten story of Wednesday night's Big 8 Debate was Herman Cain's performance. The former pizza executive was able to brush off questions about alleged sexual harassment and continue with extraordinary discipline to stick to his 9-9-9 Plan and to even make the argument that he is an outsider with a compelling story, message and argument to be president.
Rest assured I don't believe that he is going to be nominated, but I don't think that his political obituary should be written just yet.
With new polls having come out in Florida showing him in the lead and in South Carolina showing him effectively tied with Mitt Romney, it is clear that Herman Cain's campaign, while perhaps side tracked by the sexual harassment allegations, has not yet been derailed.
Moreover, his Iowa numbers remain strong, and it is still within the realm of possibility that Cain could perhaps, at the very least, remain competitive in Iowa.
To be sure, more could come out that would damage his candidacy, but in the last 10 days we have been waiting for the other shoe to drop, and it hasn't dropped.
The dynamics of the race remain clear.
Three out of 4 Republican voters don't want Mitt Romney. At least 1 in 4 Republican primary voters do want Herman Cain, notwithstanding the very serious allegations about his character and his behavior. And the vast majority of Republicans are not at all committed to the candidates they are supporting, and a healthy plurality would like to see additional candidates run.
At this point, it is impossible to handicap the Republican race with any certainty, save to say more people believe that Romney will be the nominee than are voting for him in the Republican primaries.
Notwithstanding President Obama's recent slippage in the polls, with the Republican field unsettled and uncertain as it appears to be, it would be a mistake to conclude that the Republicans have a commanding position in this election campaign-- despite the ongoing economic and political problems the incumbent Democratic administration faces.
Douglas E. Schoen is a political strategist and Fox News contributor. His most recent book is "Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System" published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins.