Harassment Allegations Having Little Initial Impact On Herman Cain’s Poll Numbers

So far, Hermain Cain seems to be doing okay in the polls.

The biggest question about the week-long scandal that has dogged Herman Cain’s Presidential campaign has been what impact it would have on his standing in the polls. Based on the ABC News/Washington Post poll released today, the answer seems to be not much so far:

Businessman Herman Cain and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney are running nearly even atop the field of 2012 GOP presidential hopefuls, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows, with most Republicans dismissing the harassment allegations that over the past week have roiled Cain’s campaign.

Seven in 10 Republicans say reports that Cain made unwanted advances toward two employees when he was head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s–allegations which have been stiffly rebutted by Cain’s campaign–do not matter when it comes to picking a candidate.

But the potential threat to his burgeoning campaign is evident as well, with Cain slipping to third place among those who see the charges as serious, and Republican women significantly more likely than men to say the scandal makes them less apt to support Cain.

The poll was conducted Oct. 31 through Nov. 3, starting the evening after Politico first reported the harassment allegations. Support for Cain was basically steady over the four nights of interviewing, even as new charges against him surfaced.

Nearly a quarter of all Republicans and GOP-leaning independents now back Cain as the party’s nominee, his best showing in Post-ABC polls this year, and up significantly from early October. At 23 percent nationally, Cain is neck-and-neck with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (24 percent) atop the GOP field.

“I think [the charges against Cain are] mostly garbage that they throw at people who want to be president,” James Kindsch, from Middleton, Wisconsin, said in a follow-up interview.

“I don’t believe it,” said Paul Bradley from Fishersville, Virginia, adding: “the further in the past they happened, the less accurate they are.”

In the poll, a majority of Republicans — 55 percent — see reports of Cain’s alleged misconduct as “not a serious matter,” and 70 percent say the situation makes no difference in their vote.

At the same time, there is clearly a risk to Cain’s campaign should the allegations stick: sizable numbers of Republicans (37 percent) and GOP-leaning independents (42 percent) see the allegations against Cain as serious ones. In this combined group, Romney is well ahead, with 31 percent support. Cain slips numerically into third place, behind Texas governor Rick Perry.

Among the possible beneficiaries of a shift away from either of the two front-runners are Perry, who checks in at 13 percent in the new poll (down from an early September high of 29 percent) and former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who polled at 12 percent, reaching double digits for the first time this fall.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul is at 8 percent, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann at 4 percent and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum are both at 1 percent.

This is a significant jump for Cain in the ABC/WaPo poll, but that’s mostly because the last poll was taken at the beginning of October when the surge of support away from Perry and toward Cain was just beginning. It was also taken when the speculation about candidates like Chris Christie and Sarah Palin was still running high. However, the numbers are also largely consistent with the numbers we’ve seen from other polls and, given the initial reaction on the right to the charges against Cain, not entirely surprising. Whether it lasts depends on whether the entirely incompetent manner in which Cain has handled this campaign crisis is something voters consider important.

There are a few other points worth noting here, though. As he has for months now, Mitt Romney remains essentially stable, not rising very much but not falling either. For all his faults, there’s still a sizable portion of the GOP electorate that at least is willing to consider voting for him, and that may be all that matters. Rick Perry’s numbers in this poll are higher than they were for most of October, which may be a statistical anomaly but may also be an indication that Perry is starting to recover from his disastrous September. And Newt Gingrich seems to be creeping up in the polls, too. If Cain falters and Perry fails to recover, and as improbable as it sounds, we could be looking at the former Speaker of the House as the new conservative rival to Mitt Romney.

This is only one poll, and I’m sure others will be coming out over the weekend and early next week. For the moment, though, it looks like Herman Cain isn’t hurting much at all from everything he’s had to deal with over the past six days.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.

Comments

  1. Tsar Nicholas II says:

    I would not be surprised if Cain’s primary poll numbers increased in the face of these allegations. Seriously. By far the largest plurality of Cain’s supporters are naive and cocooned Bible bots. When evangelical Protestants perceive they’re being attacked they tend to close ranks. Cain’s rubes might become even more fervent in their support. This type of phenomenon occurs in many other contexts, such as when a pastor gets accused of embezzlement and related money crimes and then his flock responds by forking over more of their money. I shit you not.

    In any case, Cain is not a serious candidate and he’s running a farce of a campaign. If Cain is not yesterday’s news shortly after the Florida primary, however, it’ll be clear as crystal the GOP primary selectorate has lost its collective mind.

  2. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Surprised?

    The new right expects their candidates to be lying ignorant scum.

    It’s what they do.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    IOKIYAR

  4. Steve says:

    Like most of these things, this will be a he said, she said episode. A competent campaign will come out ahead. Unless there are videos, this should strengthen his campaign.

    Steve

  5. Nikki says:

    Yea! C’mon, God/dog/FSM, please, please, pretty please make Cain the Repub nominee! I promise that I will actually watch the presidential debates just so I can enjoy the comedy gold that will ensue when Obama and Cain debate each other. it will be classic…epic even! Even better than if Romney is nominee!

  6. MBunge says:

    And Newt continues his inevitable rise to not-Romney status.

    Mike

  7. Liberty60 says:

    @Tsar Nicholas II:

    I gotta admit, Tsar Nicholas is spot on here.

  8. WR says:

    @Steve: “Like most of these things, this will be a he said, she said episode”

    Or in this case, he said, she said, he paid her a year’s salary not to say anything more.

    “A competent campaign will come out ahead. ”

    Yesterday morning the Cain campaign accused Perry of sabotaging him with this. In the afternoon, Cain’s campaign manager walked that back, saying there was no reason to accuse Perry. In the evening, Cain went on Fox and accused Perry.

    Yes, a competent campaign will come out ahead…

  9. JKB says:

    What we know so far is little more than vague gossip. There could be heat, there may be smoke and, if they keep fanning, there could be flames. But one thing is certain, there are a lot of Democrats and Republicans, MSM and Bloggers, who really, really are excited about the prospect of watching Herman Cain burn.

    Pyromanic Politics.

    Oddly, it may be Gingrich who is helping Cain the most. Just as this ‘scandal’ is being fanned, we hear from Gingrich’s daughter with the truth about the infamous hospital visit. I’ll admit, that I’d never paid much mind to this story about Gingrich but had been affected by the zeitgeist. I, too, thought his wife had passed away, but apparently even that was a false impression.

    So the moral of the lesson is, ‘Nullius in verba’ roughly translates as ‘take nobody’s word for it’ .

  10. mantis says:

    Like most of these things, this will be a he said, she said episode.

    More like he said, she said, and then he paid her to keep quiet.

  11. MBunge says:

    @WR: “Or in this case, he said, she said, he paid her a year’s salary not to say anything more.”

    No. It’s she said, he said, the organization they both worked for paid her to make the problem go away.

    If nothing else, I would have thought the Clinton/Paula Jones mess would have tamped down the knee jerk “Kill the bastard!” response from certain people when the issue of sexual harassment comes up. Silly me.

    Mike

  12. mantis says:

    No. It’s she said, he said, the organization they both worked for paid her to make the problem go away.

    The organization for which he was CEO.

  13. WR says:

    @MBunge: “If nothing else, I would have thought the Clinton/Paula Jones mess would have tamped down the knee jerk “Kill the bastard!” response from certain people when the issue of sexual harassment comes up.”

    Personally I don’t think the harassment thing is the problem here. So he hits on women — what do I care? I didn’t care when Clinton screwed around, I’m not going to pretend to here. And that he might have bullied his subordinates? I don’t really care if a candidate is kind of a jerk as long as he could be a good leader.

    No, the issue here is the complete incompetence of Cain and everyone around him, the kneejerk decision to lie, and then to lie about lying and then to lie about that. With ten days notice that the story was going to run, Cain decided he’d pretend he didn’t remember a thing about it. And then magically remembered more and more at every turn. He’s made a complete fool of himself, and his self-pitying attempt to turn himself into a victim is fooling no one except those dumb enough to think him a serious candidate in the first place..

  14. MBunge says:

    @mantis: “The organization for which he was CEO.”

    I’ve seen multiple people with professed backgrounds in sexual harassment procedures say that in this type of situation, Cain would have been completely kept out of the loop on how it was handled.

    Mike

  15. MBunge says:

    @WR: “No, the issue here is the complete incompetence of Cain and everyone around him, the kneejerk decision to lie, and then to lie about lying and then to lie about that.”

    Something which Bill Clinton was far, far, far, faaaaaaaar more guilty of than Herman Cain. Not that “Clinton did it” is any sort of excuse, of course.

    Mike

  16. WR says:

    @MBunge: I don’t think you remember the 90s very well. Remember how those on the right called him “Slick Wilile”? That’s because he was a smart, savvy politician. Granted, the unlimited spending of a few rightwing billionaires combined with Newt’s House were finally able to trap him. But no one would ever have accused him of the blundering stupidity that Cain is demonstrating here.

    Call Clinton a liar. But you’d never find him putting out six contradictory positions in one day…

  17. mantis says:

    I’ve seen multiple people with professed backgrounds in sexual harassment procedures say that in this type of situation, Cain would have been completely kept out of the loop on how it was handled.

    Perhaps, and that’s how it should have gone down, but business associations are not always managed the same way businesses are.

  18. MBunge says:

    @WR: “Call Clinton a liar. But you’d never find him putting out six contradictory positions in one day”

    1. There’s no need to call Bill Clinton a liar. He is one.

    2. If you go back, you’ll find out that what Clinton and his defenders said about his sex scandals changed quite a bit over time. True, it was more like they’d tell a lie as long as they could get away with it and then switch to a different lie, but there wasn’t some unyielding consistency to their arguments. I’m not sure a liar who keeps lying to your face until the absolute last moment he can get away with it, only to immediately switch to a different lie is better in any way than what Cain’s been doing this week.

    3. If you ever complain about the inhuman way politicans talk, this Cain thing is why they do that. I find the whole “Cain lying” thing to be overblown. It’s more like he and his incompetent campaign really were unprepared for this story and Cain has responded the way a normal person would to these sorts of charges, with incomplete, misrembered and poorly phrased statements instead of a robotically perfect line of attack concocted by spin doctors and attorneys.

    Mike

  19. WR says:

    @MBunge: ” I find the whole “Cain lying” thing to be overblown. It’s more like he and his incompetent campaign really were unprepared for this story and Cain has responded the way a normal person would to these sorts of charges, with incomplete, misrembered and poorly phrased statements instead of a robotically perfect line of attack concocted by spin doctors and attorneys.”

    They had ten days to figure out how to react before the story was published. Ten days.

    Is this how a “normal person” would react? Maybe, if that normal person is Homer Simpson. But either way, we’re talking about a man who claims he is qualified to serve as president of the United States. So saying that he reacts to a crisis just like Biff at the beer hall after a half dozen pints doesn’t really recommend him for the job.

  20. Rob in CT says:

    Personally I don’t think the harassment thing is the problem here. So he hits on women — what do I care?

    I would simply like to point out that this is straight-up douchebaggery on your part, WR.

    Sexual harrassment != hitting on a woman. Obviously, what we have here is accusations of sexual harrassment and then a settlement, which does not mean guilty guilty guilty.

    But you don’t care about whether he sexually harrassed woman who worked for/with him. Nah, totally unimportant.

    That’s pretty revealing, WR.

  21. WR says:

    @Rob in CT: Oh, Rob, lighten up. A man I will never meet acted like a jerk towards women who worked for him. Do you belileve this is something that doesn’t happen a million times a day in the US alone? Do you get the vapors over every instance? No, I didn’t think so.

    I have no doubt Cain’s a creep. But we’re talking about a candidate for president. His personality — and even the way he treats subordinates — matters much less to me than his intelligence, plans and goals. JFK and Bill Clinton both seemed to be fairly predatory towards women, but on the whole the country was better off for their having been president. W apparently didn’t bother the women working for him, and we’ve got the worst economy in generations thanks to his leadership. So pardon me if my priorities are different than yours.

    I’d also say that Clarence Thomas is among the worst justices ever to sit on the Supreme Court, but that has little to do with his behavoir towards Anita Hill. (Although his willingness to commit perjury on the subject is a problem…)

    I wish you’d paid a little more attention to the context of the exchange. When I said that the harassment was not the problem, I was talking in a political sense. And I’ll stand by that. For a lot of Republican voters, a man accused of sexual harassment is nothing but the victim of shrewish feminists.

    But it’s true, I also said I don’t care about the actual indicent, and I really don’t. Whatever happened happened 15 years ago and was settled. I can only guess that it was settled to the women’s satisfaction, since they were willing to sign non-disclosure agreements as part of it.

    I’m sorry if my lack of concern over a couple of incidents that happened 15 years ago leads you to think me a douchebag. I generally agree with what you have to say here, but this time not so much…

  22. mantis says:

    @WR:

    If the accusations are factual (and I have no idea if they are), then there is some indication that Cain expressed or implied that female subordinates’ jobs depended on their compliance with his sexual demands.

    If you really think that’s no big deal, or it happens everywhere, you are wrong and yes, a douchebag.

    That said, however, I repeat that I have no idea if the allegations are true, and we may never know. However, that the women received money for their silence does not inspire confidence that Cain did nothing wrong.

  23. G.A.Phillips says:

    Remember how those on the right called him “Slick Wilile”? That’s because he was a smart, savvy politician

    lol…..

  24. WR says:

    @mantis: “If the accusations are factual (and I have no idea if they are), then there is some indication that Cain expressed or implied that female subordinates’ jobs depended on their compliance with his sexual demands.

    If you really think that’s no big deal, or it happens everywhere, you are wrong and yes, a douchebag.”

    Thanks, Mantis, that’s lovely. Apparently to you acknowledging that it is simply a fact that powerful men prey on female subordinates makes me a douchebag, while living in fairyland and pretending it doesn’t happen frequently makes you — what, an angel?

    I’ve worked in the entertainment industry for a couple of decades, and I’m not blind. It happens there, and it happens in every other business, including politics. And when I say it’s no big deal, I mean that it’s no big deal in terms of Cain’s chances at winning the nomination — because REPUBLICANS have stated quite clearly that they don’t give a damn about it. Check the polls.

    Sorry if being made aware of this hurts your feelings, but it really doesn’t seem to require name-calling.

  25. mantis says:

    Apparently to you acknowledging that it is simply a fact that powerful men prey on female subordinates makes me a douchebag

    No, this is what makes you a douchebag:

    Personally I don’t think the harassment thing is the problem here. So he hits on women — what do I care?

    The harassment thing is the problem. Your acknowledgement that Cain isn’t the only man to have (allegedly) done it is not the source of contention. The point is that it is a big deal when they do it.

    while living in fairyland and pretending it doesn’t happen frequently makes you — what, an angel?

    Nice strawman. In no way am I pretending it doesn’t happen.

    I mean that it’s no big deal in terms of Cain’s chances at winning the nomination

    If that is true, then you shouldn’t write things like “what do I care?” Kind of undermines your (now professed) meaning.

    Check the polls.

    I have. 39% of Republicans said they think it’s a serious matter and 23% say they are less likely to vote for Cain because of this, and the story ain’t even over yet. This is a big problem for Cain, despite what a shallow reading of the toplines might suggest.

    Sorry if being made aware of this hurts your feelings, but it really doesn’t seem to require name-calling.

    You’ve not made me aware of anything new, and you’ll forgive me if I don’t give a rat’s ass about the delicate sensibilities over name-calling of someone who thinks sexual harassment is no big deal. Get your priorities straight when you get up off the fainting couch.

  26. WR says:

    @mantis: ” 39% of Republicans said they think it’s a serious matter and 23% say they are less likely to vote for Cain because of this, and the story ain’t even over yet. This is a big problem for Cain, despite what a shallow reading of the toplines might suggest.”

    Yes, it truly must be shallow to read that 70% of Republicans say this makes no difference in their vote and understand that it means that more than two thirds of Republicans find it makes no difference in their vote. I’m glad we have deep thinkers around to explain the true meaning to us. Not that you bothered to share that explanation with us shallow folk, but I gues we’re not smart enough to follow the big brains anyway. Hyuck hyuck.

    And if you didn’t bother to read the story above:

    “In the poll, a majority of Republicans — 55 percent — see reports of Cain’s alleged misconduct as “not a serious matter,” and 70 percent say the situation makes no difference in their vote.”

    But I can see how you got confused. After all, you’re clearly emotional, since you’ve decided that every citizen must get up in arms over every instance of sexual harassment in at least the last fifteen years or be called a douchebag. I’m surprised you have time to breathe.

  27. mantis says:

    Yes, it truly must be shallow to read that 70% of Republicans say this makes no difference in their vote and understand that it means that more than two thirds of Republicans find it makes no difference in their vote. I’m glad we have deep thinkers around to explain the true meaning to us. Not that you bothered to share that explanation with us shallow folk, but I gues we’re not smart enough to follow the big brains anyway. Hyuck hyuck.

    It is a shallow reading, which is different than it being shallow to read that. The point was you need to look deeper into the details to see why this matters. If 23% of Republicans are less likely to vote for him as a result, and the details haven’t even come out yet, which they surely will, this is indeed a big problem for Cain. I’d go so far as to say it’s the beginning of the end of his candidacy.

    Anyway, I wasn’t calling you shallow, just the reading of these poll results. Such a delicate little flower you are. Reading comprehension needs some work too.

    But I can see how you got confused.

    I doubt it, since you can’t see beyond your own confusion.

    After all, you’re clearly emotional, since you’ve decided that every citizen must get up in arms over every instance of sexual harassment in at least the last fifteen years or be called a douchebag.

    More strawmen. You’re as bad as Jay Tea. I never said any such thing. I criticized one person’s reaction (yours), which boils down to “boys will be boys, no big woop.” I never said anyone needed to be upset about this at all; I just criticized its chauvinist dismissal from a supposed progressive.

    Again, it’s interesting how upset you get at being called a rather mild name in today’s vernacular, but the idea that men threaten subordinate females with serious career consequences to secure sexual favors doesn’t phase you a bit.

  28. WR says:

    @mantis: ” You’re as bad as Jay Tea”

    Now them’s fighting words!

    Guess we’ve got a difference of opinion about the word “douchebag.” I don’t think of that as “a rather mild word in today’s vernacular,” but if that’s how you meant it, fine. As for your notion that “the idea that men threaten subordinate females with serious career consequences to secure sexual favors doesn’t phase you a bit,” that strikes me as another misunderstanding –you seem to think the fact that I’m not shocked by it means I’m in favor of it. Not the case – because I am a “supposed progressive.” And the reason it would affect my opinion of Caine the man or the candidate is because my opinion actually can’t get any lower than it already is. I wouldn’t vote for him if he was running against Pinochet’s ghost, and that was true before it looked like he was a harasser.

    So as usual on the internet, we’re probably fighting about less than nothing.

    Unless you compare me to Jay Tea again…

  29. Pug says:

    I hope this helps Herman soar in the polls and sweep Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida and quickly lock up the Republican Party nomination.

    I do.

  30. Patty says:

    He had 10 days to figure out something. Politico warned him about the article.

  31. Eric Florack says:

    I would not be surprised if Cain’s primary poll numbers increased in the face of these allegations. Seriously. By far the largest plurality of Cain’s supporters are naive and cocooned Bible bots.

    So they’re too stupid to go with the liberal lie.
    Got it.

    He had 10 days to figure out something. Politico warned him about the article.

    Possibly true, but given the confidentiality agreement we were told of, what of it? He couldn’t respond.