What We Learned in Florida's Straw Poll

Orthodoxy vies with electability among party faithful
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2011 7:26 AM CDT
Republican presidential candidate businessman Herman Cain, speaks to delegates before straw poll during a Florida Republican Party Presidency 5 Convention yesterday in Orlando, Fla.   (AP Photo/John Raoux)
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(Newser) Herman Cain's surprise win in Florida's straw poll yesterday shows how unpredictable this election cycle is—but it also provides some valuable lessons about that state of the GOP nation, reports the St. Petersburg Times.

  • The top GOP contender is still Not-Mitt-Romney: Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry—Republicans are still waiting for the great candidate who can lead them to the chosen land. All they know for now is that frontrunner Romney is not him. Next up ... Chris Christie?.
  • It's too late for a new candidate: A major reason Perry imploded was that he just did not have enough time to get the infrastructure in place that he needed. Money, volunteers, the whole process takes way too much work to ramp up so late in the game. So maybe Christie is not an option, after all.

  • Illegal immigration is the ultimate third rail for today's right-wing: Until recently, Republicans like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio were able to pursue policies friendly to undocumented immigrants and their children. But the brutally effective clubbing Perry received for his support of in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants shows those days are over.
  • Electability counts ... even for party faithful: The Tea Party has swung Republicans hard to the right, but once voters got a good view of Perry and decided he was less than seaworthy, they jumped ship.
  • Republicans are fired up: Conservatives may be underwhelmed by their presidential options, but they are energized and determined to take down President Obama.
For a full list of the lessons learned from Presidency 5, click here.

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