The New York Times, covering Herman Cain’s appearance at Hillsdale, attempted to read handwriting on the wall in his tepid reception:
There were no ovations or chants of his name. Many in the audience were students at Hillsdale College, a school in a politically conservative county in southern Michigan, west of Detroit.
This of course comes at a time when Cain is reassessing his candidacy; the reporter noted that Cain did not discuss said reassessment, nor give enough specifics to shore up his foreign policy credentials, which is probably one of his goals. But he’s talking to college kids, not supporters! Newt Gingrich could drop by, and Hillsdale college students, conservative though they are, would not start chanting his name. Maybe they would cheer a few anti-Obama one-liners, but even there he’d probably have the most success with the old donor crowd, and there’s no indication they were there. The only politician I can think of who could conceivably get major applause at Hillsdale would be Paul Ryan- he’s spoken there, but I don’t know what the response was. Ron Paul would bring out a few fans and opponents. That’s really it.
As for the residents of the “politically conservative county in southern Michigan” (who have nothing whatsoever to do with the college being conservative), I’m sure a number of people dropped by because there was a Presidential candidate in town, and the world’s most famous fair hadn’t started yet, but I can count on one hand the number of residents who would care enough to have a primary preference at this point, and for all I know none of them are Cain supporters. The response, as compared with other events packed with his supporters, doesn’t tell us anything about how badly Cain’s candidacy is reeling.