Nearly a quarter of all Republicans and GOP-leaning independents now back Cain as the party’s nominee, his best showing in Post-ABC polls this year, and up significantly from early October. At 23 percent nationally, Cain is neck-and-neck with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (24 percent) atop the GOP field.

“I think [the charges against Cain are] mostly garbage that they throw at people who want to be president,” James Kindsch, from Middleton, Wisconsin, said in a follow-up interview…

In the poll, a majority of Republicans — 55 percent — see reports of Cain’s alleged misconduct as “not a serious matter,” and 70 percent say the situation makes no difference in their vote.

At the same time, there is clearly a risk to Cain’s campaign should the allegations stick: sizable numbers of Republicans (37 percent) and GOP-leaning independents (42 percent) see the allegations against Cain as serious ones. In this combined group, Romney is well ahead, with 31 percent support. Cain slips numerically into third place, behind Texas governor Rick Perry.