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Is Herman Cain running a zombie candidacy? (VIDEO)

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Tony Jones/AP

(Read caption) Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain speaks during his first stop of an Ohio bus tour at the Cincinnati Marriott North in West Chester, Ohio, Wednesday. Cain claimed Wednesday that he has experienced a "groundswell of positive support" from backers who are ignoring the most recent charge of a 13-year extramarital affair.

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Herman Cain says he’ll decide whether to quit the presidential race within the next few days. But let’s be frank: hasn’t the presidential race already quit him?

Ginger White’s allegation of a 13-year affair appears to have buried whatever chance of victory Mr. Cain had. Fairly or not, his candidacy has become what you might call zombie-like. He’s still moving forward, but there’s not much vitality left in his campaign.

His numbers now are brutal. At time of writing, Intrade, the presidential predictions market, listed Cain’s chance of winning the GOP nod as 0.6 percent. To put that in context, Ron Paul had a 5.3 percent chance – a figure nine times larger than that of the ex-Godfather's Pizza CEO.

Look at the latest state polls: in Florida, a former Cain stronghold, he’s now down to around 19 percent, according to RealClearPolitics’ rolling average. That’s a drop of five percentage points this week. He’s gone from 19 to 15 percent in Iowa in a matter of days. He’s at 7 percent in New Hampshire, representing another five point plunge. He’s lost six points in South Carolina, down to about 17 percent.

In terms of position, he’s third or fourth in all these states, and fading fast. Many polls were wrapped up in the middle of the week, and probably don’t yet reflect his full loss of support. Is that Michele Bachmann Cain sees approaching in his rear-view mirror?

Here’s what conservative Fox News pundit Bill O’Reilly had to say about Cain last night: “It appears that Herman Cain will not secure the Republican nomination for President. In order to beat his competition Cain could not afford to make any missteps, but obviously he had them ... I think Cain is a good man and I hope the rest of his life is peaceful."

Ouch. Peaceful? Rest of his life? That’s like saying, “Don’t let the door of the green room hit you on your way out.” Or worse, R.I.P.

Over the last day or so, Cain has sounded like someone gradually coming to grips with the depth of at least his electoral problems. He’s said he’s still reassessing and won’t make a full decision until he sees his wife Friday. Apparently he has not met her in person since Ginger White’s allegations became public.

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It’s possible he’ll plow ahead – he’s been nothing if not unpredictable. But by placing such importance on his family meeting, he’s laying the foundation for saying he’s pulling out because the whole thing is just too big a strain on his spouse.

“It’s not hard to imagine Cain coming out soon after that meeting to say he is stepping aside, not because the allegations against him are true, but because the media (always a convenient scapegoat) has made life miserable for his wife by propagating falsehoods,” wrote Washington Post political analyst Chris Cillizza today on his blog The Fix.

Such an approach might allow Cain to preserve his viability as a talk show host or news commentator, noted Mr. Cillizza. He’d also avoid having to answer continued press questions about the allegations of Ms. White and the women who accused him of sexual harassment in the past.


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