Five men competed in last week's Republican debate in South Carolina, but only one of them could credibly package the entire experience in a video highlight reel, frame it as a victory lap, and toss it up on the web for fans to gobble up and spread around. That guy is Herman Cain. (Though I'd love to see Tim Pawlenty's vaunted videographer try to turn his cringing apology for supporting cap and trade into the stuff of action movie heroism.)
The enthusiasm for Cain that manifested itself among the members of Frank Luntz's post-game focus group is the essential ingredient that allows Cain to present the debate as a pillar-to-post drubbing.
One moment lingers in particular: the young focus group member who tells Luntz that after previously campaigning for Romney, he's going to kick Mitt to the curb and go all-in for Cain. Romney, of course, didn't make the trip to South Carolina (he may take a pass on the state entirely), but that moment allowed Cain to get in some shots at the presumed front-runner.
"It's basically self-parody here at POLITICO to write about the 2016 presidential campaign," but it's Ben Smith, so stick with it as he games out the way the issue of same-sex marriage could play out down the road. (How will it play in 2012? I'm pretty sure that only libertarians Ron Paul and Gary Johnson support marriage equality, though Barack Obama's opinion may "evolve" just in time to pander to LGBT voters, you never know!) [Ben Smith]
Steve Kornacki tells us that there are "two types of 'flawed' Republican presidential candidates," which is bad news for those of us who naturally assumed that there were many, many more. [War Room @ Salon]
Representative Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) -- of whom there was a mini-spike in presidential speculation yesterday -- has written a book, and I'll let Taegan Goddard finish the joke: "So he must be running for president." [Taegan Goddard's Political Wire]
Your Virginia Senatorial race is a tight one and remains "about as evenly matched as it could possibly be with two well-known and highly polarizing candidates duking it out. Tim Kaine leads George Allen 46-44 this time around." [Public Policy Polling]