Presidential hopeful Herman Cain is “dropping like a rock” in the latest Newsmax/InsiderAdvantage poll and is likely to be forced out of the presidential race by the end of the week amid reports that a number of prominent conservatives have finally abandoned his besieged campaign.
“Cain is just dropping like a rock,” declares InsiderAdvantage head Matt Towery, who polled potential voters in three primary states on Nov. 28 following allegations of a 13-year affair between Cain and Ginger White.
Cain himself acknowledged today that he is “reassessing” his campaign after the latest allegations were made public on Monday in an interview that aired on Fox’s Atlanta affiliate. He also sought advice from individual supporters based on the latest allegations, according to published accounts.
“It’s not as much what you do it’s how you react and if you are honest,” says Towery. “I think that the Cain campaign is so taken off track by this that they can’t possibly focus on things like foreign policy, or debates, or 999, or anything else.”
The Newsmax /InsiderAdvantage poll finds that Cain was the choice of only 10 percent of likely voters in Iowa and 4 percent of likely voters in New Hampshire. Another poll conducted on behalf of The Augusta Chronicle showed Cain with 13 percent support in South Carolina.
University of Virginia political guru Larry J. Sabato tells Newsmax that he too believes the latest blow to the Georgia businessman’s presidential bid is likely to signal a death knell for Cain’s improbable rise and fall in the 2012 presidential race.
“Herman Cain was never going to be the Republican nominee for president, but this latest incident means that he also has no real chance to be the VP choice either,” says Sabato. “The way Cain is tumbling in the polls, he might not even be much of a factor when the new year’s contests start.”
Sabato stops short of predicting that Cain will drop out of the race, saying it is a “very personal decision,” but he says that the accumulated weight of multiple accusations makes them harder to dismiss.
“Denials begin to be perfunctory and strained,” he explains.
Bradley A. Blakeman, a former deputy assistant to President George W. Bush who now teaches politics and public policy at Georgetown University, says he would urge Cain to pull out of the race sooner rather than later.
“If he wants to save his reputation and not become a cartoon caricature he needs to get out of the way,” Blakeman tells Newsmax. “He’s not going to do well in Iowa. He’s not going to do well in New Hampshire and he has no hope beyond that.”
The bottom line is the end of the line for the Cain train if not before Iowa, then soon after. “If I were advising him, I’d tell him ‘sir you need to go and the quicker the better,'” Blakeman insists.
Towery says that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is likely to get the biggest boost from a Cain withdrawal, but he said that the race was already beginning to evolve into a showdown between Gingrich and former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney.
Sources tell Newsmax that evangelicals appear to be throwing their support to Gingrich despite his well-publicized personal issues.
“I think now Romney has to challenge Gingrich,” says Towery, who predicts that the GOP nominee could be decided based on the results of the South Carolina and Florida primaries. “If it’s still a jump ball, it will be Super Tuesday that decides it,” he adds.
Sabato does not necessarily believe that Gingrich will emerge as a more palatable alternative for many conservatives should Cain drop out of the race. “Why would social conservatives disturbed by the Cain allegations move to the thrice-married Gingrich?”
He says that voters might opt for Gingrich if they are sufficiently anti-Romney. “But the Cain revelations are also a cautionary tale about Gingrich,” warns Sabato.