We already told you about Herman Cain’s total lack of a campaign in South Carolina, according to plugged-in Republican operatives there.
With each passing day, more stories are published proving that South Carolina is not an outlier in the Cain campaign operation. Try as they might, reporters just can’t seem to find any kind of legitimate Cain campaign operation anywhere.
A quick roundup of the latest updates:
• Slate’s John Dickerson was the latest to go to Iowa and find no real sign of a Cain campaign: “If Cain does well in Iowa, it could upend the entire premise of the caucus process: In order to win in Iowa, candidates must spend time in the state wooing the famously coddled voters with personal appearances and vast organizations.”
• In Florida, it’s the same story. The Miami Herald: “Look no further than Florida, where die-hard Cain fans can’t find campaign staffers to contact, where prominent Republicans can’t get calls to the campaign returned and where some people describe themselves as the campaign’s Florida leaders while others say the same people are well-meaning but overzealous volunteers.”
• No candidate other than Mitt Romney — who’s spent 6 years trying to win it — is expected to do very well in New Hampshire. But Time found Cain’s a popular ghost there, too: “‘There is no sense of a tangible organization that you can point to,’ says Rich Killion, an uncommitted GOP strategist in New Hampshire, who’s unsure of the location of Cain’s Granite State base of operations, or even if there is one. ‘If you said, ‘Rich, tell me who is running the effort here?’ I could not even give you that person.’”
Even the new guy Cain hired to run Iowa, which is probably a must-win for him, is telling reporters there’s a long way to go before Cain’s got a ground operation in the complicated caucus state.
From Politico over the weekend:
“This is the most grass-roots presidential campaign I’ve ever been involved with. The work gets done more by volunteers than paid staff, and that’s impressive,” said [new Cain Iowa chair Steve] Grubbs, a veteran of the state’s Bob Dole and Steve Forbes campaigns who signed on Thursday. “Having said that, I think that having my experience will bring some needed organization to the effort. I wouldn’t say that this effort would ever be professionalized.”
For his part, Cain told Politico, “We may not have as big of a campaign as anybody else, but I certainly consider our campaign to be professional because of the quality of the people that I brought in.”
So — what’s this all mean? Cain’s continued lack of a robust campaign operation makes his time at the top of the polls perhaps the most doomed of any of the GOP frontrunners so far: it seems clear from all polling and anecdotal evidence watching Cain’s speeches on the ground that the support for his candidacy is there among the GOP. But if Cain can’t put that rubber on the road via the hard, boring but up-to-now essential work of field campaigning, those poll numbers probably won’t matter very much.