Private polling indicates that the ongoing sexual harassment scandal involving Herman Cain has damaged the former pizza mogul’s standing in Iowa roughly eight weeks before that state’s caucus, the Associated Press reports.
According to leaked polls done by the campaign, Cain has lost a significant amount of support among Iowa Republicans. While still in the double digits, he has dropped markedly from last month when a Des Moines Register poll showed him leading in the state with 23 percent support.
Cain’s campaign in Iowa is now working to contain damage from the scandal before it erodes his strong support among grassroots voters in the state. In nightly calls to potential supporters, campaign volunteers are prepared to answer questions about the scandal and echo Cain’s denials of any wrongdoing.
“When we are trying to convince someone to be a team leader, we answer their questions,” Steve Grubbs, Cain’s Iowa campaign chairman, told the news service. “The answer to that is: Tell them what Herman Cain is saying.”
The campaign has been moving aggressively in the state to shore up support before the caucus is held in January. Cain recently released his first Iowa TV ad and rolled out the endorsement of a prominent female lawmaker in his home state in Georgia. Cain’s Georgia state director also says the campaign is about to sign the lease on a new 4,200 square foot office space where they will coordinate volunteer efforts and launch phone banks to call voters in early states like Iowa.
Still, the AP reports, Republicans worry that the scandal, and the campaign’s much-criticized response, could hurt the party as the election season moves forward.
“It’s one of the he-said-she-said stories,” GOP strategist Greg Mueller told the AP. “But you want to put the story to rest as quickly as you can and let the voters decide. It seems like every day it’s a new elevation of the story. Either that’s going to peter out or it’s going to solidify.”