Media Stumped by Voters' Response to Cain Scandal

Friday, 04 Nov 2011 04:04 PM

By James Hirsen

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Despite the media feeding frenzy over reports that, while head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain allegedly made unwanted advances toward two employees, Cain’s poll numbers remain high.

Politico broke the story without having named any sources. The purported misconduct was described as “conversations allegedly filled with innuendo or personal questions of a sexually suggestive nature” and “physical gestures that were not overtly sexual.”

According to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, most Republicans shrug off the harassment allegations as irrelevant to their election choices.

The poll indicates that a majority of Republicans (55 percent) classify the allegations as “not a serious matter,” and an even greater percentage of those polled (70 percent) indicate that the allegations on which the media have been fixated make no difference in their voting assessment.

Left-of-center news personalities are evidently mystified as to why the numerous hit pieces about the African-American conservative have not negatively impacted the GOP presidential hopeful.

If it indeed turns out that the claims against Cain are insignificant, his campaign could be the beneficiary of the disproportionate media coverage. There has been a reported surge in Cain's campaign fundraising efforts, and his supporters are apparently miffed at the manner in which he has been treated by the press.

However, a long-term threat to Cain’s current front-runner status still seems to hover. Republican women are more likely than men to indicate that the sexual harassment allegations diminish their support for Cain.

In addition, over time undecided voters could be deterred by the sustained coverage, despite the ambiguous nature of the allegations.

The campaigns of Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich would likely benefit from potential Cain camp defections. Gingrich’s elevated third-place poll numbers, which hit double digits at 12 percent, have buoyed his presidential prospects.

Cain may be well served to allow his surrogates to deal with the allegations while he himself, in his trademark candid style, focuses on releasing all of the facts.

Cain’s long-term prospects may depend on a media strategy that brings to a halt the media’s latest obsession.

James Hirsen, J.D., M.A. in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. He is admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court and has made several appearances there on landmark decisions. Hirsen is the co-founder and chief legal counsel for Visit Newsmax.TV Hollywood.

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