CBS weighs in today with their latest round of primary polling and the big definitive news is … there’s no seriously definitive news on the primary race, other than saying that it’s almost anybody’s game at this point. The poll was conducted between Monday and yesterday, so the latest round of Cain accuser news conferences were in the news for the majority of it. Are these stories having any effect? Well… maybe. But not a lot.
If there’s one big story out of this it has to be the “new kid on the block,” rags to riches story of the one campaign which had been considered little more than road kill during the summer. Remember the good ole’ days when the race was obviously between Mitt and Michele Bachmann? And Newt was a complete loser for his trips to the Greek Islands and his Tiffany’s accounts? Well, it’s a brave new world now.
In the Republican race for the presidential nomination, Newt Gingrich’s support continues to slowly grow, and he is now tied with Mitt Romney for second place, while Herman Cain just edges both of them out for the top spot. Both Cain and Romney have lost support since late October…
The field of Republican candidates now has three candidates within striking distance of each other at the top of the list: with 18 percent, Herman Cain is in the top spot, followed by Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich with 15% each. Support for both Cain and Romney has declined since late last month, and Gingrich is the only one of the top three whose support is steadily – if slowly – on the upswing.
Cain is still on top, and more than sixty percent of primary voters are saying the sexual harassment stories aren’t impacting their decision. That part is good news for Cain, but it comes with a warning as well. His support among women has dropped measurably and outside the margin of error, from 28% in October to 15% now. That appears to be the majority of the shift which has tightened his lead and put him in what is essentially a three way horse race with Mitt and Newt.
The other, and perhaps most significant factor here is the massive amount of unrest among the voters. There is virtually no solidification behind any one person as the standard bearer yet. With less than two months until votes are cast in Iowa and New Hampshire, more than 70% of respondents are saying that “it’s still too early to say which candidate they will support.”
That’s not just a few independent leaners sitting on the fence. That’s a huge majority of the primary crowd. Perry seems to be doing the comedy tour circuit to play down debate gaffs and show that he’s got a sense of humor about it all. Cain is sticking to his, “nothing happened, let’s move on” strategy about the harassment allegations, and Newt is… well, he’s just being Newt. For better or worse, the voters seem to be waiting for some sort of Come to Jesus moment when the herd will receive the sign they’re waiting for and begin lining up.
That may never happen. I’m surprised to be saying it, but absent a serious sea change, this thing might actually go deep into the late state primaries if somebody can’t find a way to seize some actual, lasting momentum. If it does, you can bet that it will come down to who can unleash the most cash and the most effective ground game across a vast land war, rather than just four or five early contests.