Herman Cain’s Poll Numbers Plummet Amid Various Gaffes, Iowa Numbers Hold Strong

Herman Cain came into the GOP presidential primary a little bit late and quickly skyrocketed to the front of the pack but now amid a sexual harassment scandal the Republicans numbers have plummeted.

According to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll Cain “unfavorability” rating has increased to 44%, up 17 points since news of a sexual harassment payout to several former employees was revealed.

In the poll just 29% of respondents viewed Cain positively and according to ABC:

“The results suggest that essentially everyone who’s formed an opinion of Cain in the past month has done so negatively.”

In other words only those people who supported Cain before the sexual harassment scandal appears to stand beside their man at this time.

Cain also hasn’t been helped along by a world policy gaffe he made in a recent interview. While speaking about President Obama and his stance on Libya Cain was asked if he agreed with Obama’s stance on Libya to which Cain responded

”Okay, Libya…” then after a long pause he noted:

”President Obama supported the uprising, correct? President Obama called for the removal of Gaddafi… Just wanted to make sure we’re talking about the same thing before I say, ‘Yes, I agreed. No, I didn’t agree.’”

After several minutes of answering questions with random generalities the GOP presidential hopeful stopped and said that he agreed with the President’s decision and noted:

“I got all this stuff twirling around in my head.”

Here’s the full Herman Cain Libya interview:

Given that the President of the United States likely has even more “twirling around in their head” it wasn’t a shining moment for the Cain camp.

Speaking to the Washington Post about the Cain gaffe former press secretary for President George W. Bush, Ari Fleischer said:

“Cain’s fundamental problem is being an outsider has its advantages but unless he can display sufficient grasp of the issues, his support will hit a ceiling,” and “The weaker his grasp, the lower the ceiling and he’s starting to bump his head against it.”

That lack of a “sufficient grasp” of the issues for Cain hasn’t been isolated to just one question, you may recall that during a presidential debate in South Carolina back in May Cain said he hadn’t formulated a plan about what to do in Afghanistan because “it’s not clear what the mission is.” In his full statement Cain said of the situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan:

“That is a decision that I would make after consulting with the commanders on the ground, our intelligence sources, after having discussions with Pakistan, discussions with Afghanistan, and here’s why,” Cain said. “It is unclear where we stand with Afghanistan…as president, I will make sure that the mission is clear and the definition of victory is clear.”

Military officials in the Afghanistan region were quick to shoot down Cain’s lack of understanding about the situation in the country.

Here’s the debate in which Herman Cain provided his answer (Cain speak at 5:13):

It’s not just U.S. based publications that have recently pointed out the errors Cain has made, the UK owned Telegraph recently wrote of his performances when put on the spot, specifically the Libya question:

“It was open-ended and about an issue that has been front-page news during his candidacy. There was no trick or trap in there.

But he answered it somewhat less competently than your average 13-year-old, flipping through his mental filing cabinet of briefing notes before eventually dredging up a few tired talking points that he recited incoherently. He tried to dress it up with his patter about being a businessman who listens to points of view and then makes a decision but it just didn’t wash.”

In the words of Byron York Cain has “Left viewers with the impression that his foreign policy would be to hire good people to tell him what his foreign policy should be”.

Throw in his ridiculed 9-9-9 plan ( 9% tax on income, 9% tax on business and 9% national sales tax) which Jon Huntsman thought was a catchy phrase for “the price of a pizza” and it’s easy to see that GOP members and much of the general public are now rallying against Cain.

If Herman Cain has one strength (or perhaps it’s his weakness) it has been his ability continually offer generalities that fire up his base, even if they do very little for a general voter base. During a talk in front of 200 Iowa supporters on Tuesday morning Cain said:

“My overriding philosophy relative to national security and foreign policy is an extension of the Reagan philosophy. Peace through strength,” Cain said. “We need to clarify our relationship with friends and enemies around the world and make sure we stand with our friends.”

It’s a nice philosophy to live by and from a layman’s standpoint it makes sense but it hardly constitutes a firm position regarding world matters and it definitely doesn’t highlight Cain’s understanding of the world stage.

It’s not all bad news for Cain supporters though, he’s still doing fairly well in Public Policy Polling with 25% of voters supporting his views however latecomer to the race Newt Gingrich has overtaken Cain in recent polling with 28% of voters supporting his ideas while Mitt Romney is currently trailing in third place with 18% of voter confidence.

A recent Bloomberg News poll poll in Iowa has also shown that Cain still holds an edge over his fellow GOP member in Iowa, an important factor given that Iowa voters are the first to hold a national Caucus on January 3rd. Cain is followed close behind by Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich following closely behind.

I’m an adamant believer that polling numbers mean very little given the swinging interests of voters leading up to a major election cycle, however the actions of a politician can often be a better judge of how they will perform, if that’s the case Herman Cain is in for a world of hurt when voters takes to the voting booths in January 2012.

Will you be voting for Herman Cain when the January 2012 primary election roles around or have you already moved on following his various gaffs?

[Image via Cheryl Casey / Shutterstock.com]