The Des Moines Register released their latest caucus poll over the weekend, and Herman Cain is the official favorite to win Iowa two months before caucus day. Cain posted support from 23 percent of likely voters, narrowly edging out Mitt Romney at 22 percent. No one else could even come close to touching the top two. Ron Paul gathered 12 percent. Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry—both of whom were crowned caucus frontrunners at one point in 2011—only had eight and seven percent respectively.
That matches the rest of the numbers that have trickled out of the state over the course of the past month, but the Register's Iowa Poll is given extra heft by political watchers based on how accurately it predicted the final results during the last presidential cycle (though some caution is necessary, the equivalent poll this time four years ago had Romney in first trailed by Fred Thompson).
The Los Angles Times ran an article over the weekend pronouncing the end of Cain's campaign surge, listing his recent gaffes on foreign policy (waffling on whether he would negotiate for prisoners) to immigration (jokes about electric fences), among others. "It appears to some political observers that Cain's moment in the sun is fleeting," the paper wrote.
But the polls haven't backed up that trend. It is still impossible to imagine a successful outcome for Cain's book tour turned presidential campaign, but so far Republicans haven't turned on the pizza king.
It's a remarkable difference from the ire directed at Perry. He entered the race strong, but had a string of gaffe filled debate performances where his commitment to the core GOP issue of immigrant bashing came under assault. Perry's poll numbers went into free fall over night, dropping further after each and every mistake. Support for Cain, on the other hand, has been molded from a tougher crust to date. He's maintained his lead despite a clear discomfort moralizing on the most sacrosanct issue for social conservatives: abortion.
However that could now change in the next round of surveys. Politico dropped a bombshell story late Sunday night that two of Cain's former female employees at the National Restaurant Association—a lobbying group where he served as CEO during the 1990s—left the organization after they complained of sexual harassment from Cain. Instead of refuting the charges when pressed by a Politico yesterday, Cain ducked answering the question, turning it back on the reporter, asking "Have you ever been accused of sexual harassment?”