Does Cain actually need an organization?

The Atlantic’s Chris Good makes the case that in the modern Tea Party era, Herman Cain doesn’t actually need an organization to win the Republican nomination:

That’s an embarrassing revelation for the Republican Party’s 2012 poll leader, but here’s the thing: Cain might not actually need a campaign.

Cain’s operation may be disorganized and unprepared, but if we’ve learned anything from recent GOP primaries, it’s that you don’t actually need a developed campaign staff in order to win — particularly if you’re a tea partier.

The 2010 elections saw tea-party Senate candidates defeat established opponents (the Mitt Romneys of the midterm election year) without much organization at all. They rode their images to victory, and, while they lost against Democrats in November, they proved that conservative primary voters will see the tea-party bat signal and turn out to vote for a candidate they may know little about.

Take, for example, Christine O’Donnell. She emerged from nowhere to win Delaware’s Senate primary over the longtime favorite, then-congressman Mike Castle, and she did it without much of a team around her…

Or take Alaska’s Joe Miller. Less than two months before his August primary against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), he was paying nine people to work for his campaign…

These candidates didn’t win by out-organizing their opponents; they won by attracting voters to a basic image.

If Cain enters the early states with momentum, having cast himself as the leading conservative alternative to Romney, he may not need a real campaign organization to ask Republicans to show up and vote for him. They could very well show up for him anyway.

Still don’t see that as all that likely, but Good does make a good case.  If this does pan out, I’m going to have to significantly re-write my lecture notes on presidential primary campaigns.  Especially the parts that emphasize the importance of organization.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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