Hill Poll: Voters split on harassment charges, favor lie detector test

Likely voters are split over whether to believe Herman Cain or the women who accused him of sexual harassment, but a plurality would like him to take a lie detector test to help decide the issue.

According to The Hill Poll, likely voters are split, 39 percent to 40 percent respectively, on whether they believe Cain or his accusers. Another 21 percent aren’t sure whom to believe.

Forty-seven percent of likely voters would like him to follow through on his professed willingness to take a lie detector test, while 35 percent said he should not and 18 percent were not sure.

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Those numbers didn’t vary much depending on gender and age, but they did break down starkly along racial lines. Forty-two percent of white likely voters said Cain should take a lie detector test to end the debate, much less than the 77 percent of black voters who thought he should.

Cain denies the allegations, which arise from his time as head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, and the emergence of two accusers into the public domain has not made Republican voters rule him out as their choice of standard-bearer.

A CBS News Poll on Friday showed Cain still on top of the GOP pack, with 18 percent of likely Republican primary voters supporting him. The next closest candidates were Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, each with 15 percent.

The Hill Poll showed that Republicans were more likely to believe Cain over his accusers, 57 percent to 27 percent. Independent voters were also more likely to believe Cain than his accusers, 42 percent to 35 percent.

Neither the levels of support for Cain in some quarters nor the lack of certainty over who’s to blame reflect any doubts about the seriousness of sexual harassment itself.

Sixty-four percent of likely voters said sexual harassment in the workplace is either very serious (32 percent) or somewhat serious (also 32 percent).

Not surprisingly, perhaps, women were more likely than men to view sexual harassment as a serious issue. Seventy-four percent of women felt this way, while that view was shared by a significantly lower percentage of men (53 percent).

Women were also more likely than men to believe Cain’s accusers. Forty-six percent of women believed them, against 32 percent who believed Cain, the poll indicated.

Results from the other side of the gender divide showed an almost exact opposite image. The results suggested that 48 percent of men believed Cain while roughly one-third believed his accusers.

Interestingly, non-married respondents split exactly the same way as women on the question of whom to believe.

The Hill Poll was conducted by Pulse Opinion Research on Nov. 10, 2011, and surveyed 1,000 likely voters. It has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.


Click here to view data from The Hill Poll.