Gingrich, Romney would both gain from Cain: Reuters/Ipsos

WASHINGTON Wed Nov 30, 2011 1:49pm EST

Republican presidential candidate former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich (R) shakes hands with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney after a South Carolina Republican party presidential debate in Spartanburg, South Carolina November 12, 2011.  REUTERS/Chris Keane

Republican presidential candidate former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich (R) shakes hands with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney after a South Carolina Republican party presidential debate in Spartanburg, South Carolina November 12, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Chris Keane

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Herman Cain's departure from the presidential campaign would do little to change the 2012 primary race, as his support would be carved up among the Republican field, an analysis of Reuters/Ipsos poll data said on Wednesday.

Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney would benefit most if sex harassment charges, an allegation of an extra-marital affair and other campaign missteps force Cain to end his bid for the White House, the analysis found, reinforcing their front-runner status.

Support for Romney and Gingrich would rise by 3 percentage points each, against the 1- or 2-point bumps Cain's departure would give some of their rivals for the nomination to oppose President Barack Obama's re-election bid next year.

The shift would not reorder the standings, with Gingrich remaining in first and Romney second, far above the rest of the field. Rounding out the list were Rick Perry, Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman.

"Cain leaving the race doesn't significantly change the face of it," Ipsos pollster Chris Jackson said.

He said it was significant that Cain's backing did not shift to just one candidate. Gingrich has been tipped as the next conservative alternative to Romney, a former Massachusetts governor seen by some Republicans as too moderate.

"It goes against the conventional wisdom that it's the 'anybody but Romney' vote driving all this," Jackson said.

With Cain in the race, 23 percent of registered Republicans said they would vote for Gingrich, the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Without Cain, Gingrich's support would increase to 26 percent.

Romney's backing would reach 25 percent without Cain, from 22 percent with him in the race.

Cain told aides on Tuesday he would reassess the viability of his struggling campaign after an Atlanta woman accused him of conducting a 13-year extramarital affair. Cain led the Republican White House race barely a month earlier but nosedived in polls after the harassment charges and missteps.

He was in third place, with 12 percent support, in the data analyzed on Wednesday from an online poll taken among 446 registered Republican voters on November 18-19.

Texas Governor Perry was at 10 percent, which would rise to 11 percent without Cain. Texas Representative Paul's support would rise to 11 percent from 9 percent.

Bachmann, a congresswoman from Minnesota, would gain 1 percent to reach 10 percent. Support for Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, would remain unchanged at 2 percent, and ex-Utah Governor Huntsman's backing would rise to 2 percent from 1 percent, the analysis said.

Since it was an online poll, typical margins of error do not apply. Despite that, various recognized methods were used to select as representative a sample as possible, and weigh the results. If it were a traditional random survey, it would have a margin of error of 5.5 percentage points.

(Editing by Alistair Bell and Bill Trott)

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Comments (6)
UnPartisan wrote:
Republicans have completely lost it. If Cain’s affair is an issue for you, how can you vote for Gingrich? What he did to his wives has been dispicable.

Nov 30, 2011 3:39pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Sensibility wrote:
Of course, the more interesting question is what happens to Newt and Mitt when Bachman, Paul, Santorum, and Huntsman also drop out. Presumably, Newt would get most of Santorum, Paul, and Bachman’s support, while Mitt would get Huntsman’s. This is looking better and better for Newt. Especially considering Newt’s support in SC and FL.

Nov 30, 2011 3:42pm EST  --  Report as abuse
doggydaddy wrote:
One would think that Republicans, the party of Christian family values, wouldn’t even consider supporting Newt. Not only did he have the affairs, but you can’t get more hypocritical than to lead the charge trying to oust a sitting President while you are busy committing the same offense. I’m no saint, but I would never do THAT. Hopefully, I wouldn’t have the affair. But if I did, the last thing I would do is engage myself in trying to oust a President for adultery. This man should be hiding in shame under a rock somewhere. Instead, he flaunts it and the Republican Party is eating it up. Unbelievable. No wonder people like Newt and Mitt are popular with Republicans. Mitt changes his positions daily, to fit political expediency, and when the Party supports a hypocritical adulterer like Newt Gingrich, they are, in effect, doing the same thing, adopting whatever position appears to be politically advantageous.

The Republican Party can no longer, in good conscience, consider themselves to be the party of Christian family values, not unless they want to be hypocritical like their two front runners.

Nov 30, 2011 4:10pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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