America's media is obsessed with every tick of every poll. The reason they cover polls is because they don't want to cover ideas. Republicans should resist being sucked into this reality show mentality and focus instead on the candidate's ideas.
Herman Cain used this to great effect in the Florida Straw Poll. His powerful speech concluded with a riff in which he talked about how the media had declared, "I can't win." He then empowered his audience by telling them, "You decide who wins, not the media." Good advice from a candidate that is now watching this particular race from the frontlines.
The media uses polls to create self-fulfilling prophecies. Media organizations who are more interested in influencing the outcome of the race than they are providing unbiased coverage of the race use polls as an instrument of voter and donor manipulation. They manipulate the desire of us all to be with a winner.
We have been carefully watching Republican party contests since the 1970's and there are some more interesting markers than polls that can help you understand what is really happening. Remember ideas have consequences with Republican primary voters.
First, straw polls don't matter. If they did matter Pat Robertson would have been elected president in 1988. He won the straw poll in Iowa and surged in the media horserace as a result. His victory lead the NY Times to report: "For the second time in a year, the Rev. Pat Robertson has shaken Vice President Bush and his other rivals for the Republican Presidential nomination by winning a test of organizational strength."
Herman Cain likewise has surged after his astounding victory in the Florida straw poll. The Cain victory has conservatives chanting "9-9-9" after his bold economic plan. Cain is calling for a total tax reform which would eliminate payroll taxes, the estate tax, investment taxes and replace it all with a simple flat tax of 9 percent, coupled with a 9 percent consumption tax and a 9 percent corporate tax.
If Cain is going to win, it will be because of his bold ideas and vision. And with ideas Mr. Cain excels, and frankly leaves most of the other candidates wanting.
So our second point would be to watch the battle of ideas. One of the best ways to pull a campaign forward is with bold ideas. In addition to Cain, only Ron Paul and Governor Gary Johnson have any bold plans. Johnson wants to legalize drugs and balance the budget next year. These are both radical ideas. His problem is that Republican primary voters disagree with him on drugs. It is doubtful they will swallow legalization of drugs just to balance the budget quickly.
Ron Paul's bold ideas are to abolish the Federal Reserve and restore integrity to the US dollar. Here Paul has the admiration of most Republican primary donors. It is his other idea which has them scared. Paul would slash military spending and disengage the Republican Party from the neoconservative foreign policy embraced by President George W. Bush.
So in 2012, the leaders in the race remain the more conventional candidates former Governor Mitt Romney and current Governor of Texas Rick Perry. The problems these two gentlemen have are a lack of bold ideas. Without the bold ideas, coverage is instead on past mistakes, which every leader has, and current gaffes, or in the case of Perry, lackluster debating skills.
Despite our fondness for Cain, in our opinion the nominee will likely be Perry or Romney. As conservatives, we prefer Perry to the liberal in hiding Romney. So here is our best advice to Perry, emulate Cain.
Governor Perry, it is time for you to step forward with bold plans. Give us some ideas we can sink our teeth into like a flat tax to replace the progressive income tax or even the replacement of corporate income taxes with an eight percent border adjusted business consumption tax. This idea which has been promoted by Chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission, Tom Pauken would be an immediate boon to manufacturing in America.
But without bold ideas, Romney will win this nomination race like a succession of losing moderate Republicans (John McCain, Bob Dole and George HW Bush) have before him.
The Browns are bestselling authors and speakers. To comment on this column, email firstname.lastname@example.org