DES MOINES — Is Herman Cain the Teflon presidential candidate?
A new ABC News-Washington Post poll out this morning shows that at least as far as GOP public opinion is concerned, he has, so far, successfully weathered the allegations of sexual harassment against him despite the fact that new details continue to surface all the time.
“More than half of potential Republicans voters say the controversy is not serious, fewer than a quarter say it makes them less likely to support Cain, and he’s running essentially evenly with Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination,” according to ABC News pollster Gary Langer.
As of today, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Cain are essentially in a dead heat for the GOP nomination with 24 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents supporting Romney compared to 23 percent who are backing Cain. http://abcn.ws/uGmSCD
Rick Perry winds up in third place in the new poll with 13 percent support, Newt Gingrich is next with 12 percent — it’s the first time Gingrich has risen to double-digits in the ABC News-Washington Post poll during the primary season.
In all, 55 percent of leaned Republicans say they do not think the allegations of sexual misconduct that have been dominating the political news cycle for five straight days are a “serious matter.” Sixty-nine percent say the controversy does not make a difference in their vote while 23 percent say it makes them less like to support him.
And the national numbers track with what Cain campaign staff say they are hearing on the ground in states like Iowa. Cain’s director in the Hawkeye State, Larry Tuel, said that the recent press attention has been a “catalyst to bring volunteers into the campaign.”
“I think it will make the campaign stronger,” Tuel said in an interview with ABC News on Thursday. “I think people are really, really committed. … People are really excited to come in and work hard for Mr. Cain.”
None of this means that matters won’t get worse for Cain. As ABC News’ Investigative Team, led by Brian Ross, reports, one of Cain’s accusers may make a statement today. And who knows where the controversy goes from here.
Also an important caveat about the challenges of taking polls about scandals:
“A reminder of how public opinion works. It’s rarely as reactive as commonly thought,” our pollster, Gary Langer, notes. “Rather, people generally exercise what’s known as considered judgment — assessing information as it becomes available, evaluating whether or not it warrants reconsideration of an existing opinion, then either adjusting relevant views, or deciding not to do so, on that basis. In evaluating the Cain situation, there’s more for the public to learn, in a process that’s only yet begun to play out.” http://abcn.ws/uGmSCD
On “Good Morning America” today ABC’s Jonathan Karl pointed out that, according to the results of the new ABC News-Washington Post poll, as the week went on the number of voters saying that the allegations against Cain were “serious” actually decreased. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/sLoj2c
CAIN ACCUSER MAY MAKE A STATEMENT TODAY… “Friday may bring the first public word from one of the women who made sexual harassment allegations against GOP frontrunner Herman Cain while he ran the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, and who agreed to remain silent about those allegations in return for a cash settlement,” ABC’s Brian Ross, Avni Patel and Matthew Mosk report. “One of the Cain accusers, a Maryland woman who works for the federal government, wants to release a written statement via her lawyer to dispute Cain’s strong denials of the allegations about his tenure at the National Restaurant Association. The woman’s lawyer, Joel Bennett, has emailed the attorney for the NRA a draft public statement for review. The National Restaurant Association confirmed Thursday that Bennett had provided a statement.” http://abcn.ws/vx225D
BUT HERMAN’S STILL RIDING HIGH. ABC’s Huma Khan notes more good news for Cain: “Cain’s campaign said it raised more than $400,000 Monday alone, in one of its best fundraising days. Since the scandal broke, the campaign says they have raised $1.2 million, nearly half of what they raised in the third quarter. Meanwhile, his following on social media networks has surged. Since the story about the alleged sexual harassment broke Sunday, more than 12,000 people have joined Cain’s Facebook page, “Cain’s most significant growth spurt on Facebook in the last several months,” according to consulting firm OhMyGov. The former chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza has also picked up 6,000 new followers on Twitter. Since Sunday, his Twitter numbers have jumped nearly 5 percent, the analysis found.” http://abcn.ws/vobUvB
ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE”: ABC’s Rick Klein and Amy Walter speak to Republican strategist Keith Appell of CRC Public Relations. Also on the program, Jonathan Karl’s “Subway Series” interview with Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va. (preview below). Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. http://abcn.ws/toplineliveabc
SUBWAY SERIES: WILL SEN. JIM WEBB HELP OBAMA IN VIRGINIA? Democratic Sen. Jim Webb hesitates when asked if he’s going to campaign for President Obama next year. “Are you going to be campaigning for President Obama?,” ABC’s Jonathan Karl asked the senator from Virginia in the latest installment of the “Subway Series.” “We’ll see what that looks like next year,” said Webb. “But you won’t say you will, at this point,” said Karl. “I’m not saying that I won’t,” said Webb, later adding, “I’m saying I’ve been out there all this year for state races. I’m a Democrat.” Senator Webb later followed up to clarify that he supports President Obama. “I am a member of the Democratic Party. President Obama will be our nominee and I will support him,” Webb said. More from Jonathan Karl’s interview with the Virginia Democrat: http://abcn.ws/uCjOBs
ROMNEY PREVIEWS ECONOMIC POLICY SPEECH. “Previewing his spending policy speech in New Hampshire Thursday evening, presidential candidate Mitt Romney offered specific steps he would take to reduce spending, vowing that if elected he will cut federal spending by $500 billion by the end of his first term,” ABC’s Emily Friedman reports. “While Romney laid out his full economic plan in September, tonight’s speech delved further into the details of what he would actually do – and cut – to try and balance the budget. Acknowledging that $500 billion is “a lot of money,” Romney said he will use three approaches to reduces spending to about 20 percent of the economy. Drawing largely on remarks that Texas Gov. Rick Perry made in an interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader last week about how he was ‘less worried about whether or not we’ve got some budget holes to fill,’ Romney repeated again and again that the deficit is important. … Romney will deliver his fiscal policy speech today in Washington, D.C., at the Americans for Prosperity ‘Defending the American Dream Summit.’”
DEMOCRATIC COUNTER-PROGRAMMING ROMNEY’S REMARKS. “As Mitt Romney rolls out his plan to curb the federal budget deficit, the Obama campaign is honing its election narrative based on a clear class divide: by warning the Republican’s economic plan would devastate the middle class while lining the pockets of the rich,” reports ABC’s Devin Dwyer. “In a memo to reporters, Obama for America policy director James Kvaal said that the Romney plan, which the former governor previewed in a speech Thursday night, would “end Medicare,” impose ‘deep cuts’ to education and infrastructure spending, and enact tax cuts that would largely benefit millionaire families and corporations. ‘Romney apparently operates under the false assumption that we can just cut our way to prosperity,’ Kvaal wrote. ‘While a balanced, responsible approach to reducing the deficit is needed, Romney will not ask everyone to contribute their fair share,’ he said. ’As a result, his plan requires deep spending cuts across government, everywhere outside of defense spending.’” http://abcn.ws/rLPdQM
RICK PERRY AND HIS PRIVATE JETS. “Mr. Perry’s travels adhere to Texas ethics laws, and he is far from alone in accepting gifts of air travel. But among politicians he stands out for taking private flights for activities that are considered part of his job as governor. That is different from campaign travel or the sort of quasi-official trips for which officeholders normally use private planes, like attending a conference or giving a speech,” The New York Times Mike McIntire reports. “‘It would be unusual for an official to be flown to Washington to testify before Congress by a special interest of some kind,’ said Robert M. Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles. ‘Usually the state would pay for that.’ Ray Sullivan, a spokesman for Mr. Perry, defended the governor’s use of private planes, saying it was part of an effort to save tax dollars. Mr. Sullivan acknowledged ‘there are critiques to be made’ about using state-owned versus private planes, but said ‘we chose to err on the side of protecting taxpayers.’ When the governor’s staff asks to use a private plane, no promises are made and no consideration is given to whether the owner has an interest in the trip, he said. ‘Over the years we’ve developed a good feel for supporters and other Texans who own private aircraft that we could ask to use,’ Mr. Sullivan said. ‘The governor bases all of his decisions on his philosophy and on what he believes is best for the citizens of the state.’” http://nyti.ms/usUccs
RICK SANTORUM BEGINS THREE-STATE POLICY TOUR. “Now that Rick Santorum’s marathon 99-county tour of Iowa is complete, he’s shifting focus to a series of policy speeches that he will be giving in the early states starting this Friday,” ABC News’ Shushannah Walshe reports. “The first address of the Faith, Family and Freedom Tour is titled “Moral, Cultural Policies for a Santorum White House” which he will give at his Iowa headquarters. … The congressional directives he’s going to include in the speech are calling on Congress to abolish the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, advocating for a personhood amendment, and calling on Congress to reinstitute Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell. The executive orders he’s going to mention are wanting to reinstitute the Mexico City Policy to “stop tax-payer funding or promotion of abortion overseas.” He’s also planning on repealing Title X family planning regulations and will direct Health and Human Services “to restore the separation of Title X family planning from abortion practices and restore a ban on referrals for abortion.” He’s going to include an issue he aggressively advocated for while in the Senate: trying to revive the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal amendment that would legally make marriage between a man and a woman despite state laws that allow for same sex marriage.”
SPEAKER BOEHNER STILL HUNGRY AFTER ONE YEAR. “One year after Republicans seized the House majority in the landslide midterm elections, Speaker John Boehner held a rare on-the-record roundtable discussion with members of the Capitol Hill press corps Thursday afternoon, creating an uncommon opportunity to gain his perspective on running the People’s House as he laid out the Republicans’ agenda for the rest of the year,” ABC’s John R. Parkinson writes. “In a progress report that critiqued his performance as speaker, the Ohio Republican fielded about 35 questions on an array of topics from the Super Committee and tax reform to new infrastructure legislation tied to fresh revenues created through energy reform.” More from Parkinson: http://abcn.ws/sjnLga
@BCAppelbaum: Jobs numbers (with revisions) are moving in the right direction — very, very slowly. 25 million Americans still can’t find full-time work.
@ReincePriebus: The latest jobs report shows another month of unacceptably high unemployment- Obama needs to campaign less, work w/GOP more.
* Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry will all speak separately at the Iowa GOP’s Ronald Reagan Dinner in Des Moines. Mitt Romney’s son Josh Romney will attend the dinner on behalf of his father.
* Herman Cain and Mitt Romney will both address the 5th annual Defending the American Dream Summit in Washington DC. Romney will head to Philadelphia after his speech in DC for a fundraiser at The Rittenhouse Hotel.
* Anita Perry will hit the campaign trail in New Hampshire for her husband, hosting four events in the Granite State.
* Mitt Romney’s son Josh Romney will make phone calls with campaign volunteers in Eastern Iowa and attend a lunch organized Linn Eagles Republican Club in Cedar Rapids.
Check out The Note’s Futures Calendar: http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV
* Get The Note delivered to your inbox every day.
* For breaking political news and analysis check out The Note blog: http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/and ABCNews.com/Politics: http://abcnews.com/politics