PRINCETON, NJ -- Herman Cain's image among Republicans is starting to get worse amid claims that he sexually harassed several women in the 1990s. His latest Positive Intensity Score, based on Oct. 24-Nov. 6 Gallup Daily tracking, is 25. However, across the two weeks that make up that average, his score was 29 in interviewing conducted Oct. 24-30, before the news broke, and 20 in the days since.
A USA Today/Gallup poll conducted this past weekend found most Republicans believing sexual harassment charges against Cain were probably untrue, and he remains a co-leader in national Republicans' nomination preferences. Since then, on Monday, a fourth woman and the first to speak publicly, alleged that Cain sexually harassed her while he was head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s. Cain insists the charges are false.
While Cain's position on the ballot suggests his campaign is not collapsing under the weight of the allegations, they are beginning to take a toll on his image. Cain's Positive Intensity Score surged to a high of 34 a few weeks ago, but now is nearly 10 points lower. It is likely to decline further at least into the low 20s unless his score in this week's interviewing rebounds to pre-allegation levels.
Gingrich Recovery Continues; Others Down
Cain, despite the decline, remains much more positively viewed than any other Republican candidate. Newt Gingrich, at 14, now has the second-highest image rating in the latest update, followed by Mitt Romney at 10; all other candidates are in single digits.
Gingrich's Positive Intensity Score fell to as low as 1 in late July, but has recovered in recent months, possibly because of the former House speaker's well-regarded performances in the Republican debates.
Gingrich's recovery is especially notable considering that this week, many of the GOP candidates' scores are at personal lows, including those for Romney, Michele Bachmann (3), Rick Perry (3), and Jon Huntsman (-3).
Though Romney's intensity score has reached a new low, he remains tied with Cain for the lead in Republican nomination preferences. Additionally, his broader total favorable rating among those familiar with him, which does not take into account strength of opinion, is 68%, second only to Cain's 76%, with Gingrich third at 64%.
Cain's total favorable rating was slightly better in interviewing conducted before the allegations broke (79%) than after (73%).
Cain emerged from relative obscurity earlier this year to reach the front of the GOP field, in terms of rank-and-file Republicans' support and in image ratings. But that status is certainly tenuous as long as his personal conduct while head of the National Restaurant Association remains a major campaign topic.
The next week could be a pivotal one in the GOP nomination campaign. There are two Republican presidential candidate debates, and Cain will likely have to continue to respond to the sexual harassment allegations. Gallup will continue to monitor how Republicans view Cain, and whether he is able to remain one of the leaders in Republican nomination preferences even as the first official nomination contest, the Iowa caucuses, is less than two months away.
Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking Oct. 24-Nov 6, 2011, with random samples of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
Questions asking about the eight candidates measured in this research were rotated among randomly selected samples of Republicans each night; over the 14-day period, each candidate was rated by approximately 1,500 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2010 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.
The questions reported here were asked of a random half-sample of Republicans for 14 nights on the Gallup Daily tracking survey.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.