In a Quinnipiac poll taken Oct. 25-31, embattled GOP juggernaut Herman Cain continued to show amazing staying power in what has been a transient Republican primary race, extending his lead on establishment pick Mitt Romney to 30%-23%, and almost quadrupling former leader Rick Perry‘s 8% support. The real news from this poll, taken before most of the fallout from Politico‘s alleged sexual harassment expose´, might be that some rays of sunshine are finally hitting President Obama.
As former RNC chair Michael Steele noted on Morning Joe today, everything has a shelf life, but so far, Cain has shown the staying power of a flash-frozen Twinkie. His continued support would seem to indicate an immunity to his weakness on foreign policy, and while the jury is still out on how the unfolding sexual harassment allegations will affect his poll numbers, his rock-solid hold on the lead ought to give Cain, and his campaign, an incentive to handle things a bit more carefully.
The consensus among the journalists I’ve spoken to has been that Cain can survive this scandal, unless one or more of his accusers comes forward and presents a credible account of those allegations.
In that same poll, though, President Obama gained six points on his approval rating, going from 41-45 to 47-49, and while Mitt Romney still performs best in head-to-head polling with the President, Obama is now beating all Republican challengers by margins of 5-16 points. The President has seen steady progress in the polls since rolling out his American Jobs Act in September, taking it on the road, and taking the fight to the Republicans who oppose it.
Elsewhere in the poll, Democrats opened up a lead on the generic House ballot, beating Republicans 42-36, after tying them at 39 in October.
Superficially, at least, it seems that the President’s message on jobs is hitting the mark, aided in part by the ubiquity of the Occupy Wall Street protests, which have placed issues of income inequality into the pop-cultural bloodstream.
These shifts in the polls, while encouraging for President Obama and the Democrats, aren’t anything to start a victory dance about. Some of it is likely a by-product of the fact that the Republican primary race has been dominating political news, showcasing the naturally more extreme elements of primary politics, while President Obama has been out campaigning for his American Jobs Act. The challenge will be to sustain these gains when the Republican nominee is named, and switches to more moderate positions.
Still, the combination of a weak Republican field, and an economy that showed some signs of life in the third quarter, could be a recipe for the President’s reelection, one that didn’t seem all that likely a few months ago.
You can read the full poll results here.
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