UPDATED at 2:25 p.m.: Until a few minutes ago, Herman Cain could keep up his lead because of the lack of details about his alleged actions. All that may have ended with the press conference a new accuser, Sharon Bialek just gave. Now there’s a name and face to a woman who’s been willing to make her accusation very publicly, and very specifically. I have a feeling Cain’s poll numbers are about to take a serious hit.
ORIGINAL POST: So far, the reports of sexual harassment allegations against Herman Cain have not cost him his lead in Iowa, which will kick off the GOP nomination process with its caucuses on Jan. 3.
Keep in mind as we go through these polls that the first story about Cain and the harassment allegations was published on the evening of Oct. 30.
Insider Advantage found Cain held a 15-point lead over Mitt Romney (30 percent to 15 percent). The poll was taken Nov. 3, four days after the story broke, and it shows that Cain almost doubled his lead from mid-October. Holding steady in third was Newt Gingrich with 12 percent. No one else was in double-digits. Caitlin Huey-Burns at Real Clear Politics notes:
Cain leads among each age group by double digits except for voters 65 and older, who back Romney over Cain, 25 percent to 14 percent. Cain also leads among minority groups. He holds a 17-point edge over Gingrich among male voters (Romney comes in third) and a 12-point lead over Romney among females (Gingrich places third).
That lead among females may be the most surprising bit, in light of the allegations.
Another pollster, JMC Enterprises, surveyed Iowans a day earlier and found a much closer race: a tie between Cain and Romney at 20 percent apiece, with Gingrich nipping at their heels with 16 percent; everyone else was at least 10 points further back. As far as I can tell, JMC had not polled Iowa recently. The pollster’s executive summary did not include cross-tabs for support of each candidate by gender, although it did find a narrow plurality of women thought the charges against Cain were “trumped up.” (H/t: Jim Geraghty)
If the allegations, and Cain’s poor response to them, are going to hurt him, it would appear it’ll take more than what we’ve heard so far. In Iowa, at least.
– By Kyle Wingfield