Sexual harassment allegations begin to erode Cain’s support

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Now that the sexual harassment allegations against Herman Cain have a pair of faces, as two of his accusers are no longer anonymous, the former pizza mogul is facing a tougher struggle and the polls are showing it.

Two polls released Tuesday show that support for Cain is eroding, especially among those aware of the latest charges from Sharon Bialek, the first accuser to stand behind her accusations in person.

An Ipsos poll conducted for Thomson Reuters found that after registered Republican voters were shown a video of Bialek’s press conference, during which she alleged that Cain sexual harassed her, the five-point gap between the second-place Cain and the first-place former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney widened to nine points. Fully 40 percent of voters said the video made them less favorable toward the former National Restaurant Association CEO.

Similarly, Gallup found that Cain’s positive intensity score, a measure of the popularity of a candidate among those who know of him, has dropped 9 points to 25 since it was last measured two weeks ago, when his score was at an all-time high of 34. Gallup reports that based on interviews after the news of Bialek was published, his positive intensity score dropped all the way to 20.

Cain has insisted that the allegations — from both Bialek and other women — are false, but polls show that voters are divided over who is telling the truth. The Ipsos poll found that 39 percent believe the allegations are true, while 38 percent say they are likely not true. (SEE ALSO: Cain camp says Block was wrong to link accuser to Politico reporter)

But 43 percent said that Bialek’s accusations had no impact on how their feelings about Cain. A USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted after the initial allegations surfaced, found Cain tied with Romney in first place. A Rasmussen poll conducted Tuesday, the day after Bialek’s press conference, found Cain leading in Florida with 30 percent of the vote — six points ahead of Romney and 11 ahead of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

But while the accusations may not have hurt him initially, Republican voters’ perceptions could ultimately hamstring Cain’s hopes of surviving a general election, should he become the GOP nominee. After weeks of running within six points or less of President Obama a Rasmussen poll conducted Monday and Tuesday found Cain trailing the president by 11 points, 37 percent to 48 percent.

The Ipsos survey was conducted November 7 and 8 and is based on an online survey of 462 registered Republican voters nationwide. The Gallup poll is based on “telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking” from October 24 through November 6, and results are based on a sample of approximately 1500 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.

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