Obviously the big story this week in the Republican Presidential race is the story Politico broke discussing sexual harassment allegations, and whether Herman Cain would be helped or hurt by that story.
As it turns out, if the new Quinnipiac poll is to be believed, he was already on the way up before the story broke.
The facts: 869 Republican registered voters, mobile and land line coverage. MoE 3.3. Importantly, the poll was out October 25-31, a long time but typical for university polling, and ending just as the Sunday night story drop was circulating.
These numbers are substantial. Cain did fall off after the 9-9-9 debate, but he's perfectly recovered it seems. Cain leads at 30, with Mitt Romney staying right in his usual range at 23. Newt Gingrich is the only other candidate in double figures, squeaking by at 10.
Some interesting splits: Cain leads among "born-again evangelicals" 35-16. Romney leads among those with a college degree 30-29. Cain leads those without a degree 31-19. Romney peaks at 29%, just behind Cain's 30%, among households at 50,000-100,000 income. Cain does best over 100,000 and below 30,000.
Top reasons for somebody to vote for Cain? Business experience at 13%, Tax plan at 10%. Top reasons to oppose Cain? Lack of political experience at 15%, Tax plan at 10%. I conclude the 9-9-9 plan still doesn't help him any, but it's just not crippling him at all. Only 2% oppose Cain because of a belief that he can't beat Barack Obama, and only 1% support him because he's not Mitt Romney.
Top reasons to support Romney? Business experience at 12%, Political experience at 8%. Reasons to oppose Romney? Romneycare 15%, Flip flops at 9%.
66% of Republicans have watched at least one debate this year, per Quinnipiac. That's higher than previous readings I've seen on that question. They matter greatly for people who are not engaged in activism and aren't immersed in politics every day.
Further, the top 3 candidates in the "best" debate polling are the top 3 in the overall polling. The top two candidates in the "worst" debate polling are the two remaining candidates who have had major crashes in their polling: Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann.
It's only one poll, but it's a wealth of data that all seem to confirm and explain the trends we're seeing. Plus, if this scandal really does boost Herman Cain as much as some say it will, then we may see Cain be the first candidate at 40%.