Why Obama's No Truman and Cain's No Eisenhower

Obama's Truman strategy doesn't hold water.

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Herman Cain is dreaming if he thinks the public will make him president and Barack Obama's plan of repeating Harry S. Truman's come-from-behind 1948 victory is fatally flawed, says political expert Larry Sabato.

The University of Virgnia's political pundit's latest "Crystal Ball" drives a stake into both Obama's and Cain's presidential hopes.

First Obama, who appears to be copying Truman's campaign against a "do-nothing Congress." Writing for Sabato's Crystal Ball, Dartmouth College government professor Brendan Nyhan says that conventional reporting credits that campaign against the GOP Congress for Truman's victory.

[See political cartoons about President Obama.]

But those reporters are wrong, he adds. "Unfortunately, the dramatic narrative of Truman's victory doesn't hold up to scrutiny," Instead, says Nyhan, Truman's "comeback was fueled by sizzling growth in the year before the election." Revised figures show that the economy was growing at a 6.8 percent rate. Current growth is 1.5 percent.

"This well-timed surge in economic growth is likely to have played an important role in the success of Truman's campaign," says Nyhan.

He adds that economic growth could change, though even the White House isn't predicting any major uptick. "Obama could enjoy an unexpected surge in growth that would propel him to re-election. But in its absence, he will face a much more difficult path to re-election than Truman did," says Nyhan.

As for Cain, Sabato's Crystal Ball political analyst Kyle Kondik says history shows the former Godfather's Pizza boss doesn't stand a chance.

[See photos of 2012 GOP hopefuls on the campaign trail]

"Will the Republican Party—especially in light of Chris Christie's decision not to run—opt for Cain, who has never held public office, and who lost his only prior election (a 2004 GOP U.S. Senate primary in Georgia)? Almost certainly not. A Cain nomination would be an aberration of historic proportions: American political parties typically don't nominate people without previous office holding experience for president," he says.

Kondik notes that while major parties have chosen non-politicians as their nominees, most have been military men. "Needless to say, Herman Cain is not Dwight D. Eisenhower," he says.

[Read: Herman Cain is Booming, But Many GOPers Are Leery of a Bust.]

But Kondik notes that this primary season has been zany. "Perhaps the good showings by the non-politician politicians in senatorial and gubernatorial races were precursors to the biggest upset winner in American presidential history. Or perhaps Cain, like [Donald] Trump before him, will come crashing back to Earth by the time the real voting starts."

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