You know what they say about living by the sword.
In politics, the same goes for polls.
As Rick Perry realized when the mere prospect of his entrance into the 2012 Republican presidential race made him an automatic frontrunner immediately following the announcement of his candidacy, polls are flattering. In Perry’s case, the polls proved to the pundits and the naysayers that he could be a contender, that he could win the GOP nomination, and that people liked him – or at least that they liked him more than they like the other guy, which, in the GOP primary race, actually meant that they didn’t dislike him as much as they disliked the other guy.
And then the polls suddenly proved the opposite.
Once the media sinks its talons into a candidate, which is what happens when public opinion polls show him or her as a potential frontrunner, every aspect of his private and public life is opened up to mass dissection, dissemination, speculation and criticism. Every piece of legislation he backed, every gaffe or false statement he makes, every twitch, stutter and scratch goes instantly viral.
It happened to Perry. It happened to Michele Bachmann when she was briefly considered a contender in the 2012 Republican presidential race, and it’s what is now happening with Herman Cain, whose straw poll victory in Florida turned him into a top-tier candidate almost overnight.
Cain went from being ignored by both the media and the other candidates to being an instant political celebrity. Needless to say, the scrutiny hasn’t done him any favors.
Not only has he caught fire for his opinions about Muslims, his claim that poor people should blame themselves for not being rich, and his statement that the United States should build an electric fence along its border with Mexico, the last week of Cain news coverage centered on the heart of the pizza executive’s campaign platform – his signature 9-9-9 tax proposal.
During the GOP debate in Nevada Tuesday night, the 9-9-9 plan was eviscerated by every candidate on stage, from the frontrunner on down.