The Cain campaign is eager to get back on message after last week’s wall-to-wall coverage of his sexual harassment scandal. Unfortunately for him, yesterday’s Reuters/Ipsos poll is a sign his fallout with Republican voters may just be beginning:
The poll showed the percentage of Republicans who view Cain favorably dropped 9 percentage points, to 57 percent from 66 percent a week ago.
Among all registered voters, Cain’s favorability declined 5 percentage points, to 32 percent from 37 percent. …
A majority of respondents, 53 percent, believe sexual harassment allegations against Cain are true despite his denials. Republicans were less likely to believe they are true, with 39 percent thinking they are accurate. …
Four in 10 poll respondents said the harassment issue had made them less favorable toward Cain. About one in three Republicans, or 35 percent, said the controversy had made them less favorable toward Cain.
Late last week it looked like Cain might have been able to get out of this controversy relatively unscathed. His campaign, which had initially bungled the PR push-back, had even begun to hit its stride: this scandal is a liberal media creation, Cain’s team argued, and Republican voters see right through it. That line of reasoning was backed up by last week’s Rasmussen poll, showing that Cain’s support among Republicans had actually increased since the controversy broke.
The Reuters poll complicates that messaging. If it were just the media – or even the general public – that cared about the scandal, Cain could potentially have gotten away with dismissing it. That becomes much more difficult if he’s also starting to lose Republican voters.
Of course, it’s important to keep in mind this is the first poll to show a loss of GOP support. Other surveys will have to corroborate this before it can be seen as a trend. But the immediate effect will be to keep this story at the top of the news cycle for at least another few days, ensuring that both the general public and Republican voters will hear a lot more of the details. And to Cain’s detriment, it seems the more they hear, the less they like.