Herman Cain has seen no voter fallout so far from the allegations that he sexually harassed two or three women as CEO of the National Restaurant Association, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released Friday.
In fact, Cain, a businessman from Georgia, actually improved on his showing in last month's poll. He has the support of 23 percent of likely Republican voters, putting him in a statistical tie with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has 24 percent.
Behind the two front-runners were Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 13 percent, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 12 percent, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas at 8 percent, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota at 4 percent, and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania at 1 percent each.
A Majority of GOP Identifiers Don't See Harassment Allegations as Serious Matter
A majority of Republicans, 55 percent, said the allegations against Cain were not a serious matter, and 70 percent said the allegations would not affect their vote. The margin of error was high, however, at plus or minus 5.5 percentage points.
I don't believe it, Paul Bradley, a Republican from Fishersville, Va., said of the harassment allegations in a follow-up interview with a pollster. The further in the past they happened, the less accurate they are.
James Kindsch, of Middleton, Wis., agreed, calling the charges mostly garbage that they throw at people who want to be president.
This is good news for Cain, although he is not out of the water yet. Sizable minorities of registered Republicans (37 percent) and Republican-leaning independents (42 percent) said the allegations were a serious matter, and within those groups, Romney got 31 percent of the vote and Cain fell into third place, behind Perry.
This indicates that the fate of Cain's campaign hinges on how many people view the allegations as serious once all is said and done.
If, for instance, one of his accusers comes forward to tell her side of the story and it turns out the details are more salacious than Cain has portrayed them, more Republicans may come to see the allegations as serious. On the other hand, if the majority of Republicans continue to believe the charges are exaggerated, Cain could make it through the scandal basically unscathed.
If it's kind of, one person took it one way and you can understand how someone took something the wrong way, but he certainly didn't mean any harm, that's survivable, Brian Kirwin, a political consultant for Rourk Public Relations, told the International Business Times. But if it's something that the common person would think, 'If my boss said that to me, I'd be reporting it,' and he's been saying all along there's nothing to it, he's very close to toast.