After maybe his best debate performance so far, Republican Presidential hopeful Herman Cain took another step up in the GOP race for the White House by claiming a surprise win in the Florida Straw Poll on Saturday.
“This is a sign of our growing momentum and my candidacy that cannot be ignored," Cain said.
The surprise win came after what may have been Cain's most active week on the campaign trail in months, as he used a bus trip across Florida to rally his supporters.
Cain has been almost been a reluctant candidate in terms of campaigning - he spends much more time at home in Atlanta than on the road meeting voters. We'll see if that changes in the weeks ahead along with whether this win will mean more resources - in other words - can he get big donations out of this victory.
Cain's win also represented a setback for Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who suffered from his uneven debate performance on Thursday night.
As I wrote after the first two debates this month, Perry's weak answers in the second half of each debate in September could ultimately draw more negative attention, and they certainly did with this Florida Straw Poll result.
A lot of different things can be drawn from the Cain win:
First, it is a major victory for Cain, and gives him a chance to get a second look from GOP voters. For example, he is on NBC's Today show and CNN (twice) for interviews on Monday morning.
Yes, it is a loss for Rick Perry. But is it a big loss? That's open to argument. Perry's five-week old candidacy was exposed in terms of organization by this result. They're still in the baby stages.
While it was a loss for Perry, it wasn't exactly a major endorsement for Mitt Romney either, who finished third behind Cain and the Texas Governor. Romney didn't win the Florida Primary in 2008 and still doesn't seem to excite a majority of Florida Republicans right now.
The last place finish for Michele Bachmann was another big setback for her candidacy. It's only been five weeks since she won the Iowa Straw Poll, but it's almost like that never happened, as she has gone downhill fast since then.
The fact that Rick Santorum beat Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman and Bachmann shows that those four are going uphill in the Sunshine State. Could it be that Santorum may actually be gaining supporters from Bachmann? Just my gut wondering.
Can Herman Cain win the nomination? Sure he can. Will he? That's a different question.
Whether Cain and his team can capitalize on this burst of positive energy and public relations will be the real test for the Georgia businessman.
The next debate is two weeks from tomorrow, October 11 at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. We'll see whether the race is in a different spot then in the polls or not.