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Cain's Inexplicably High Polling - Dilbert Blog

Cain’s Inexplicably High Polling

Warning: This blog is written for a rational audience that likes to have fun wrestling with unique or controversial points of view. It is written in a style that can easily be confused as advocacy or opinion. It is not intended to change anyone’s beliefs or actions. If you quote from this post or link to it, which you are welcome to do, please take responsibility for whatever happens if you mismatch the audience and the content.

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Prior to five women accusing Herman Cain of sexual harassment, I predicted he would become the Republican nominee. After the accusations, most pundits expect Cain to go down in flames. I’m going to double down and reaffirm my prediction that Cain will win the Republican nomination.

Let me begin by clearly stating a few things:

  1. I don’t think Cain is qualified to be president.
  2. Sexual harassment is a serious offense.
  3. With so much smoke, it’s hard to believe there’s no fire.

But none of that might matter to a good number of Republican voters. 40% of voters would prefer any Republican over President Obama. So whoever has the best chance of winning the election will be preferred by most Republicans, no matter what his qualifications and offenses are.

But that’s not the heart of my argument today. To make my next point, first we need to do a little poll.

Consider all of the employee lawsuits and out of court settlements of which you have personal knowledge. Your list can include sexual harassment claims plus all other types of employee claims, including cases involving injuries and unfair practices. Include only situations in which you were personally involved or you know the people who were. My question is this: What percentage of these employee claims do you know for sure to be bullshit?

I’ll go first. I owned two restaurants for years, and you can imagine how many claims I saw. Before that, I worked at the local phone company, and before that for a large bank. I’ve had personal knowledge of perhaps twenty employee claims against employers. To the best of my knowledge, 100% of them were bullshit. I could be wrong, but that’s my impression. And impressions matter. (None were sexual harassment cases.)

I’m using the term bullshit instead of “true” because there’s a slight difference. In some cases the employees took advantage of obscure labor laws and found ways to force settlements without ever experiencing any damages.

Now consider the average Republican mindset. We’re talking about a pro-employer group of voters. For many of these voters, Cain’s situation will remind them of all the dishonest employee claims they’ve seen. For many people, especially men, Cain will look like a typical employer getting sued every five minutes by employees looking for cash settlements. Voting for Cain will feel like a vote against fraudulent employee claims, even if that is the opposite of reality. It will FEEL like a referendum against fraudulent claims.

The other factor working in Cain’s favor is his absurd level of confidence and optimism. You have to figure he’s always had it. It’s easy to imagine that if the allegations happened exactly as the women described, he saw it differently at the time. In the mind of an optimist with a huge ego, he probably thought he was doing nothing more than giving the women a chance to have some career assistance and also enjoy the extraordinary pleasure of his company.

Our system is designed so you can’t escape justice by claiming you didn’t know you violated a law. That’s the only way the system can work. But I think it’s entirely plausible that Cain believed he was doing these women two favors: help with their careers and the option of great sex too. It’s easy to imagine that’s how he saw it. I think a lot of Republicans who believe the women’s stories are going to give Cain a pass because there’s a fine line between optimism and stupidity, and if you want an optimist for your leader, you know he’s going to cross the line into stupidity now and again. It’s a package deal. It’s Ronald Reagan. It’s Bill Clinton.

For the bad readers who might be visiting from other sites, I will end by reiterating:

  1. I don’t think Cain is qualified to be president.
  2. Sexual harassment is a serious offense.
  3. With so much smoke, it’s hard to believe there’s no fire.

I’ll also add that I’m not a Republican. I’m just predicting how the Republicans who have a soft spot for employers and optimists might think.

Update: Cain is still polling #1 after the scandals. But apparently some Republicans have defected from the guy who allegedly tried and failed to cheat on his wife (Cain) to the guy who succeeded at it (Gingrich). Republicans like winners. Meanwhile, the Mormon who only sleeps with one wife (his own) is losing ground.

Update 2: Cain is also raising more money than his rivals even during his scandal period. How does the media report this situation? Headlines say Romney is a sure thing now that Perry has self-destructed.