On Saturday, former front-running presidential candidate Herman Cain suspended his campaign following a series of allegations about sexual harassment and a recent affair. He said he will endorse a rival soon, which a former advisor says is likely to be Newt Gingrich. If Cain’s supporters move mostly into Gingrich’s camp, then the former Speaker of the House will solidify his frontrunner status and the other campaigns’ survival will depend upon bringing him down.
Cain, standing with his wife behind him, denied the accusations against him and said they were taking a steep toll on him and his family. The stories have made it impossible to get back on message, he said. Cain admitted that his campaign was suffering a loss in support and fundraising. A poll out of Iowa shortly before his decision to quit found him in fourth place at 8%. Cain unveiled a new website, TheCainSolutions.com, to promote his ideas.
Cain and Gingrich have a close friendship and Cain has said that if he had to choose a rival to be his running mate, it’d be him. A former senior advisor says he is very likely to endorse Gingrich soon and a large amount of his supporters will follow. About 37% of Cain’s backers pick Gingrich as their second choice, followed by Michele Bachmann with 14%, Mitt Romney with 13% and Rick Perry with 12%. Nearly three-fourths of Cain’s supporters view Gingrich favorably, but only 33% view Romney favorably.
“Cain’s supporters absolutely love Gingrich. And they absolutely hate Mitt Romney,” wrote Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling.
According to the RealClearPolitics poll average, Gingrich has a national lead of 6.2 points. The most recent Rasmussen poll has him with a whopping 21% lead over Romney. In Iowa, which will hold a caucus on January 3, Gingrich has an average lead of about 10%.
A poll by NBC News-Marist was adjusted to reflect the second-choice picks of likely caucus-goers and determined that Gingrich’s support is currently at 28% with Ron Paul and Mitt Romney tied for second at 19%. Rick Perry is in third at 10% and the rest are below 5%. Nate Silver observes that of 11 Iowa caucuses held since 1980, 8 were won by whoever was ahead one month before the vote.
Newt Gingrich’s strong leads in South Carolina, which the eventual Republican nominee has won each time since 1980, and Florida, are likely to strengthen in the wake of Cain’s exit. In South Carolina, Gingrich has an average lead of 8.6 points. The latest Insider Advantage poll has him at 38% with Romney far behind at 15% and Cain in a close third at 13%. In Florida, Gingrich has a massive lead in the latest poll with 50% of the likely primary voters backing him, followed by Romney at 31% and Cain with 10%.
Mitt Romney is now going on the offensive against Gingrich by painting him as a Washington “insider.” New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who endorsed Romney, says Gingrich has “never run anything” and will speaking at a rally for Romney in Iowa on December 7. Depending on which poll you believe, Romney is in second or third in Iowa.
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