For months before he became the frontrunner, the story with Herman Cain was that, in general, Republicans who knew of him, liked him.
It seems that streak is coming to an end as Americans hear more and more about his history with sexual harassment allegations.
As Cain flops around trying to get his hands around the growing scandal dogging his campaign, he’s lost the one thing that was his calling card throughout the entire campaign — his high numbers in the Gallup intensity score.
As TPM’s Kyle Leighton reported at the outbreak of the Cain scandal, that Gallup number — which is intended to show relative approval ratings among candidates with vastly different name ID levels — was the barometer that would show how Cain was weathering the scandal.
It’s not going well.
Some backstory: During the early days of Cain’s campaign, when his lack of resources and serious press coverage denied him the name ID of other candidates running, his campaign loved flagging the Gallup intensity score, which showed Cain miles ahead of his rivals when it came to positive feelings among Republicans who knew him. Here’s an example of what that sounded like back in May, when pretty much no one knew who Cain was (but the few that did really, really liked him.)
The ratio of people who really liked Cain to those who disliked him basically held (with a couple dips) as he grew in name ID, eventually becoming the national frontrunner and a household name.
On Tuesday, Gallup reported Cain’s positive intensity score is taking a tumble:
His latest Positive Intensity Score, based on Oct. 24-Nov. 6 Gallup Daily tracking, is 25. However, across the two weeks that make up that average, his score was 29 in interviewing conducted Oct. 24-30, before the news broke, and 20 in the days since.
A score of 25 still puts Cain way out in front of his GOP rivals, but the slip in positive intensity signals that Cain is losing the one thing that makes him so special — the fact that he so well liked among Republican voters.
There’s anecdotal evidence to back this up. The Des Moines Register recanvassed 15 or so respondents from its big Iowa Poll and found 11 of them said the new accusations from Sharon Bialek made them reconsider Cain. A similar canvass of Iowa Poll respondents conducted by the Register right after the scandal broke found not a single person was rethinking their support for Cain.
This is where the scandal will hurt Cain — if it hurts him. We’ve seen some big-name conservatives backing away from Cain a bit in the wake of Bialek’s accusations, but Cain has done fine without the backing of much of the establishment/beltway GOP for a while now.
But if he loses that over-the-top support among the grassroots GOP, he’s losing the key to his success so far. And that could change the dynamics of the campaign quite a bit.
Read the full Gallup analysis here.