Two new national polls reveal how much Herman Cain has slipped in the GOP presidential race-- but with the recent revelations by Sharon Bialek, and a fast-circulating YouTube video depicting the presidential candidate joking about Anita Hill, perhaps it's not surprising that almost all that fall in support is coming from women voters, not male Republicans.
A CBS News poll has Cain still in first place in the GOP primaries, but with a seven point drop in support: down to 18 percent from the 25 percent frontrunner status he claimed just two weeks before. A McClatchy/Marist poll meanwhile, has dropped Cain to third place, below both Mitt Romney (23 percent) and Newt Gingrich (19 percent).
In the earlier CBS poll last month, Herman Cain was actually more supported by women than by men. Female voters supported him at 28 percent, with male voters at 22 percent. Following POLITICO's serious allegations however, and the continuous stream of new accusations of sexual harassment leveled against the GOP presidential hopeful, only 15 percent of female Republican voters still support Herman Cain, while only one percent of men have changed their minds about the candidate.
That gap is sure to get wider following yet another straight-to-viral video of Herman Cain. This time, the candidate wasn't singing an ode to pizza or practicing his patented slow smile technique. Instead, he was joking about a woman whose charges of sexual harassment in 1991 gave the Cain campaign the phrase high tech lynching, a woman who is one of the most famous and divisive figures in America's political history: Anita Hill.
Anita Hill Joke Caught on Tape
In Kalamazoo, Mich., Fox News Network was recording a Cain support rally when one supporter took things too far. The man mentioned Anita Hill, the college professor who accused U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment.
You hear the latest news today? the man is heard saying on the video, below. Anita Hill is going to come...
The crowd erupts in laughter, and Cain falls forward with mirth. Straightening, the GOP primary candidate beams and gives his now-infamous retort: Is she [Anita Hill] going to endorse me? The crowd went wild.
Such comments come only days after Herman Cain drew fire for referring to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi as Princess Nancy during the Republican debates. Cain apologized for the comment immediately after the debate.
Cain's Tin Ear
He said it in a humorous way, I gave back a humorous response, Cain told Fred Dicker on his radio show in Albany, N.Y. as the video began to gather traction online. It was no way intended to be an insult to Anita Hill or anybody else. The presidential candidate told Dicker that he was being flyspecked, having every word he says taken apart by the media and the American public.
Veteran GOP Consultant Ed Rollins however, is baffled by such naivete about the elective process, and is incredulous at just how oblivious Cain seems to be about the importance of his female constituents, always a valuable commodity in a Republican race.
He clearly needs to show some sensitivity, Rollins told the Daily News, and be aware of the fact that people are watching what he says closely. Rollins had previously criticized what he called Cain's tin ear in his attempts to counteract Sharon Bialek and POLITICO in the wake of the burgeoning sex harassment scandal. So far, Rollins concluded, he's showing none of that.
The division between male and female support for Herman Cain will only continue to widen as the Anita Hill video spreads. Such a divide meanwhile, will not only be reflected in polls of everyday American voters. It will also be revealed in the reactions of prominent conservative pundits and commenters.
GOP firestarter, Radio Talk Show Host Rush Limbaugh, a conservative, has been the most outspoken and offensive in his defense of Herman Cain, calling Sharon Bialek buy-a-lick and dismissing sexual harassment charges in general as tools to take down conservative men. Sean Hannity treated viewers of his Fox News program The Sean Hannity Show to a charged interview with Bialek lawyer Gloria Allredon Nov. 10, and has had commenters like Ann Coulter on his show nearly daily to discuss the high tech lynching of Herman Cain by the liberal media and, in Coulter's words, horrible, angry feminists.
Beyond Ann Coulter however, some very prominent female conservatives have begun to break, as Salon.com wrote, with the Cain victimization narrative. One of them is Penny Nance, the head of Concerned Women for America, a powerhouse Republican group focused on Biblical values and family traditions. Nance called Bialek's allegations credible earlier this week, saying Bialek's press conference and Cain's lackluster follow-up left her very disturbed.
That view is shared by many who follow her. When pollsters for CBS asked women who had shifted support why they were no longer endorsing Herman Cain, 38 percent of them said it was because of the accusations leveled against him, and his reaction to charges of sexual harassment. Of the small one percent of men who switched allegiance, only 23 percent had done so because of the aftermath of POLITICO and Sharon Bialek.
Anita Hill is still painted as a desparate, attention-seeking villian in most conservatives' eyes, a tool of the liberal machine and a stand-in for most scandals involving Republicans today. Yet to mock Hill, and by extension both his self-proclaimed connection to Clarence Thomas and the sex harassment allegations against him, is likely only to widen the gender gap among Cain's constituents, and lose some of the most powerful supporters the GOP presidential hopeful could have counted on.
Below, the Anita Hill video: