Cain Surviving Scandal? Half of Republicans Don't Think It's Serious

In the first reliable poll on his sexual-harassment allegations, the former CEO still led Mitt Romney in the GOP presidential primary

Herman Cain hands up - Reuters - banner.jpg

Herman Cain is surviving his sexual-harassment-allegation scandal -- so far.

ABC and The Washington Post have released the first major, reputable poll on Cain conducted after Politico broke its initial story about his scandal on Sunday night. Their main finding: Fewer than four in 10 Republican respondents said that the allegations against Cain are a serious matter.

Screen shot 2011-11-04 at 9.17.26 AM.png

Chart credit: ABC

Here's the exact phrasing of the question, asked of 438 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents Monday through Thursday:

It's been reported that two female employees accused Cain of making unwanted sexual advances in the 1990s, and they received financial payments to leave the trade association he headed at the time. Cain says he was falsely accused and never sexually harassed anyone. Do you think this is a serious matter, or not serious?

Mitt Romney led Cain in the poll overall, 23 percent to 24 percent.

Without judging whether the GOP electorate is taking Cain's scandal too seriously, not seriously enough, or just right, here are some factors to consider when looking at the data:

  • This scandal has grown and developed. ABC began polling on Monday, the day after Politico's big story, when Cain's scandal was all over the news. But subsequent revelations by Politico and the Associated Press -- that a third woman had accused Cain and that Cain's campaign is blaming a Rick Perry aide -- may have influenced responses between Monday and Thursday, the last day of the survey.
  • People formed initial impressions of the Cain scandal quickly. Only six percent said they had no opinion, and while some pollsters push respondents more aggressively to take one side or another, such a low number seems to indicate that most people had heard about Cain's scandal and reacted to it.
  • Cain has rebuffed the allegations by accusing the news media and Perry's campaign of seeking to take him down. Even as more reporting comes to light that seems to undermine his case -- for instance, Politico's revelation Thursday night of "urgent discussions of the woman's accusations at top levels of the National Restaurant Association" -- we can't assume that Republican voters will think more negatively of him. They may think more negatively of Politico and Perry instead.
  • The question was about whether the accusations for a "serious matter," presumably in the context of Herman Cain and the presidential race. This poll does not indicate that half of Republicans don't think sexual-harassment allegations, writ large, are a serious thing.

Image credit: Reuters

Presented by

Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Politics

Just In