1. Christine O’Donnell versus Michael Castle is exactly the primary to point to when people say it is impossible that Herman Cain can win. Castle was a much stronger frontrunner than Mitt Romney has ever been, plus a sure general election winner. O’Donnell had bigger liabilities than anything we’ve seen with Cain. O’Donnell’s platform was more in step with the Republican primary electorate and when a single poll showed her competitive in the general — an outlier, as it turned out — she was off to the races. Cain is already in a stronger position.
2. Cain’s decision to hold a Lincoln-Douglas debate with Newt Gingrich is an example of why people doubt he’ll hold his lead, however. The format favors Gingrich’s superior policy knowledge rather than Cain’s likeability. Gingrich is rising in the polls and has more to gain than to lose from the encounter. Maybe this is part of Cain’s master plan to finish Gingrich off so he can deal with Romney one-on-one, but it doesn’t seem worth the risk.
3. Bill Kristol may be unhappy with the Republican presidential field, but the theoretical openness of the race as shown in polls isn’t the same as practical openness. Major primary filing deadlines are coming up as early as next week. Iowa is in 70 days. And jumping out to a lead in the polls is one thing; having the money and organization to sustain that lead is another. A candidate who jumps in at this point would have to have done a lot of the groundwork beforehand to have any real chance of success.