Sexual harassment allegations eroding Cain’s popularity, poll finds

Allegations of sexual harassment have put a dent in pizza mogul Herman Cain’s popularity among Republican voters, an Ipsos poll conducted for Thomson Reuters found.

The poll, conducted in the wake of the allegations, found that Cain’s popularity among registered Republicans declined by 9 points since the days before the allegations of the scandal were published. Among Republicans polled last week, on October 27 and 28, 66 percent said they had a favorable opinion of Cain. But just 57 percent of those polled on November 4 and 5 said they had a favorable opinion of the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza.

The drop off comes primarily from Cain’s less enthusiastic supporters. The percentage of Republicans who say they hold a ‘very favorable’ opinion of him has dropped by only 3 percentage points. The percentage of voters who say they hold a ‘somewhat favorable’ view of him has dropped by 6 points.

The sexual harassment allegations seem unlikely to go away: they have been widely reported, and 88 percent of Republicans say they have heard of them, as have 81 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of independents.

That said, Republicans remain somewhat uncertain on the whether or not there is any truth to the allegations. Thirty-two percent say they think it is likely that the allegations are true, while 27 percent they are likely untrue. Very few — 7 percent — say they strongly believe the allegations are true, and just 10 percent say they strongly believe the allegations are untrue. Twenty-four percent say they don’t know. Among independents who have an opinion, most believe the allegations to be likely true. However, over half of independents express no opinion.

Almost half of Republicans say the reported allegations have no bearing on how they feel about Cain. But 35 percent say it makes them feel less favorably about him, while just 14 percent say it improves their opinion of him.

The results suggest that while many Republicans are still giving Cain the benefit of the doubt, the longer the story stays in the news, the worse things will get for him. (RELATED: NYT’s David Brooks sneers at Herman Cain)

An ABC/Washington Post poll conducted in the first three days after the story broke on Monday October 31 saw little change in Cain’s popularity. Most Republicans surveyed said the allegations were not serious, and Cain ran within 2 points of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on the ballot.

Moreover, the Cain campaign reported a large outpouring of donations to the campaign in the days following the allegations, as many conservatives stood by him, calling the allegations a “high tech lynching.”

But the continuing decline suggests that the allegations are sinking into voters’ consciousness. The longer the story stays in the news and the more details that emerge, the more Cain is likely to see his support erode.

The Ipsos poll was conducted from November 4 to November 5, and surveyed 836 registered voters, including 343 Republicans.

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