Republicans are hierarchical, and we like order. We almost always nominate the second-place finisher from the previous election or an early-consensus frontrunner. This suggests that Romney should be our frontrunner. But a lot of the criticism of him is true: He has issues with authenticity, his support is thin, and he has some nagging preexisting policy positions that will have to be managed, not solved. If you had to make a bet, though, you would bet on Romney.
Even though Cain won’t be the nominee, his candidacy tells us a lot about the psychology of GOP activists. Our team wants someone authentic, creative, fresh, bold and likeable. And we don’t have much tolerance for too many facts or too much information. In politics, a bumper sticker always beats an essay. Cain’s 9-9-9 is a bumper sticker; Romney’s economic plan is an essay. Perry’s rationale for giving the children of undocumented workers in-state college tuition rates is an essay. No hand-outs for illegal aliens is an effective bumper sticker.
It’s easy to to forget how important simplicity is in politics, especially to conservatives. Iraq was a good war because WE HAD TO GET SADDAM, but that doesn’t mean they’ll support all of Bill Kristol’s capers. Likewise, they take to GUBMINT SHOULD TIGHTEN ITS BELT in part because it’s five words whereas a good description of Keynesianism requires at least 20.
I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, I realize. I’ve said it once (or more) before but it bears repeating.