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Can Herman Cain actually win the GOP nomination?

Herman Cain continues to run strong in polls of Republican voters nationwide and in key states. So why do experts still say he's a long shot for the GOP nomination? Organization and experience.

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Presidential candidate Herman Cain applauds as he waits to speak at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition's Presidential Forum at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa, Saturday.

Brian C. Frank/REUTERS

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From the start, Herman Cain has confounded the Republican elite. The former pizza magnate, Navy mathematician, and talk radio host with no political experience jumped into the presidential race with both feet way back in January and has never looked back.

Mr. Cain has enticed GOP voters with his catchy "9-9-9" tax plan and moved them with his up-by-the-bootstraps life story. He has also raised eyebrows with a series of gaffes, strange ads, and reports of "chaos" within his campaign. But he’s a robo-candidate, plowing ahead, ever-smiling. And he’s ahead in the polls among likely GOP primary voters, both nationally and in key early nominating states. His Achilles’ heel is fundraising and organization.

Could Cain actually win the Republican nomination? In theory, yes. But political analysts still view Cain as a long shot.

A story in The New York Times posted Wednesday quotes former aides describing a campaign that churns through staff, mishandles potential donors, and makes nonsensical scheduling decisions. All campaigns, especially those new to presidential politics, go through some disorder, but given that Cain’s argument for the presidency is his private-sector management experience, he has a lot to prove in short order.

But at least one experienced Republican strategist now working for Cain speaks optimistically about Cain’s chances. Steve Grubbs, the new chairman of Cain’s campaign in Iowa, describes an effort that is now on track in this critical early nominating state, with fundraising that is “doing dramatically better” and finally getting volunteers organized. Mr. Grubbs, former chairman of the Iowa GOP who has worked on past presidential campaigns, spoke to the Monitor Wednesday by phone after a meeting with Iowa campaign staff and volunteers.

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