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Many Republicans shrug off Herman Cain accusations, polls show

November 07, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli
(Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty…)

Herman Cain continues to place ahead of most of his Republican rivals, with primary voters largely dismissing allegations of sexual harassment against the presidential hopeful, new polling shows.

A new USA Today/Gallup survey shows Cain tied with Mitt Romney at 21% among a nationwide sample of Republican and Republican-leaning voters, an increase of 3% for Cain over the previous month's survey. It's also the sixth major public poll in a month showing Cain leading or statistically tied with Romney atop the GOP field.

Gallup found that 53% of Republicans believed the charges against Cain were untrue; 35% thought they were true. Half of those surveyed said they were following the news of the allegations, initially attributed by Politico to unnamed women who worked for Cain when he led the National Restaurant Assn., very closely or somewhat closely. Slightly fewer -- 45% -- said he was doing a good job of responding to the claims.

"Cain thus appears to have largely survived the storm of news coverage of the sexual harassment charges for the time being," Gallup's Frank Newport wrote, though he added that it could change as a fourth accuser has come forward publicly with new claims of inappropriate conduct by Cain.

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found similar results on Cain. Fifty-four percent of Republican voters said they weren't concerned about voting for Cain after the allegations. But the percentage of voters who viewed him unfavorably has nearly doubled -- from 18% in October to 35% in November. More Republican voters now view Cain unfavorably than favorably.

With less than two months before the first nominating contest of the 2012 election, the race is still seen as wide open. In the Gallup poll, Newt Gingrich placed third with 12% support, a jump of 5% since October, while Texas Gov. Rick Perry slipped to fourth place at 11%, down from 15%.

The Gallup survey was conducted Nov. 2-6 among 1,054 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll was conducted Nov. 2-5.

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