Cain Stays Atop Polls Amid Harassment Controversy

Poll shows the former pizza company executive running even with Mitt Romney.


Herman Cain remains in a lead position among 2012 GOP presidential candidates, a poll out today shows, despite a week's worth of headlines stemming from alleged acts of sexual harassment.

The Washington Post/ABC News Poll,conducted from October 31 to November 3, had Cain with 23 percent of the GOP vote—a virtual tie with GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney, who garnered 24 percent.

The poll comes at the end a tumultuous week for Cain, who spent the majority of his time in Washington dogged by reporters wanting to know more about two claims of sexual harassment he was accused of during his tenure as president of the National Restaurant Association.

J.D. Gordon, Cain's communication director, says the poll and the campaign's fundraising, which yielded $1 million this week, is a testament to Cain's continued appeal as an independent-minded businessman above the fray of politics.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 GOP hopefuls.]

"We're pleased to hear that the public sees this awful smear campaign for what it is, a malicious attack on a prominent conservative simply because his critics disagree with his politics and view him as a threat," says Gordon.

Lanny Davis, a crisis management expert who served as Clinton's special counsel during the Monica Lewinsky impeachment scandal believes Cain is getting the sympathy vote from conservatives.

"Mr. Cain is the beneficiary of the backlash against the media, publishing anonymous sources, and the male minority community who is very sensitive about this charge coming from an anonymous white woman," Davis says.

[Vote: Can Herman Cain Put the Sexual Harassment Story Behind Him?]

Republican strategist Ron Bonjean says Republican voters just don't care about anonymous attacks against a candidate with a strong political message. There is only one thing Bonjean says could interrupt Cain's weathering of the storm — if one of the women comes forward, in person.

"Right now these women have made these allegations of harassment and they are nameless, faceless people. So far we've seen that this isn't going to peel away support unless voters see these women on television, pointing their fingers at Cain; telling their stories. "

One of the women is said to be planning a statement, but wants to remain anonymous.

Davis says a statement read by a lawyer isn't going to be enough to make Republican voters question Cain.

"If they are supporting him now, they are not going to abandon him after an anonymous woman issues a statement via her lawyer," Davis says.