Yes, they Cain! On Thursday, Zogby released a poll showing Herman Cain not just tying or slightly topping Romney and Perry in the GOP primary race, as he has been for a couple weeks now, but pulling 20 points ahead of Romney, 38 to 18.
And nobody believes those numbers.
Actually, nobody in the media has really believed Cain’s rising popularity for a while, figuring it’s just the latest in the Trump/Bachmann/Perry series of boomlets. But a twenty-point lead has to be more than a technical glitch, even for Zogby. And if it’s not true that 38 percent of Republicans dream of one day saluting a President Cain, then the numbers must mean something else. Maybe it’s a media hall of mirrors: Republicans doubling down on their love for Herman Cain because they don’t like the media laughing at them for claiming to love Herman Cain.
It hasn’t been easy for the political press to say exactly why it thinks Cain’s supersonic rise isn’t real. They’ll say that Cain is a “placeholder” or “a nice protest parking place for Tea Partisans disappointed by the Bachmann and Perry adventures.” All that’s true. But what few seem to consider is the man’s race.
A few days ago on WRRN’s Richard French Live, however, former NY1 political anchor Dominic Carter and former Connecticut congressman Rob Simmons, a Republican, got down to it, musing that Cain’s appeal to white conservatives is related in large part to the Bradley Effect—the phenomenon of white people who, for fear of appearing racist, tell pollsters they’re going to vote for a black candidate but actually vote white (named after LA mayor Tom Bradley, who lost the 1982 gubernatorial race after polls showed him far ahead). French admitted he was relieved his guests brought up the Bradley Effect, so he didn’t have to.
I understand the feeling. In an age when even the most rabid birthers and mosque molesters fly into a rage at the suggestion they might be bigots, it’s become impolitic to state the obvious: that a lot of Tea Party types are crazy for Cain because he shields them against charges of racism. As the current hard-right favorite, Cain is proof of widespread Tea Party colorblindness, writes conservative pundit Ron Christie.
Some conservatives even want extra credit for favoring a “real black man,” as Cain calls himself, over someone like Obama. Laura Ingraham (who wrote in her Barack Obama “diary” that Michelle Obama eats baby-back ribs at every meal) clumsily endorsed that notion last week when she said that Cain "would be the first black president, when you measure it by—because he doesn’t—does he have a white mother, white father, grandparents? No, right?”