Republicans' Opinions of Cain Show Wide Gender Gap

by Jeffrey M. Jones

Men much more positive than women toward Cain

PRINCETON, NJ -- Republican men view GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain much more positively than do Republican women. Fifty-eight percent of Republican men have a favorable view of Cain and 26% an unfavorable view, for a net favorable rating of +32. Among Republican women, 42% view Cain favorably and 34% unfavorably, for a net favorable of +8.

Opinions of Herman Cain, Mid- to Late November 2011

These results are based on interviews with 1,415 Republicans conducted in Nov. 14-27 Gallup Daily tracking. The net favorable scores reported here, based on all Republicans, are distinct from Gallup's Positive Intensity Scores, which indicate the extent of strongly positive views of the candidates based on Republicans familiar with them.

On Monday, after the data were collected, Cain was forced to respond to a Georgia woman's claim that he had a long-term extramarital affair with her. That report came on the heels of a series of sexual harassment allegations against Cain. News reports on Tuesday indicated he is considering dropping out of the race for the presidential nomination.

Cain's image has suffered greatly in recent weeks, based not only on the sexual harassment allegations but also on questions about his grasp of policy issues, such as the situation in Libya. His Positive Intensity Score has tumbled from 34 in early October to 9 now. Also, Gallup's most recent update on Republican nomination preferences shows Cain slipping behind Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.

The gender gap in views of Cain was evident earlier this year, but has become much more pronounced since his alleged behavior toward women became an issue. In Gallup tracking conducted Oct. 3-16, shortly after his Florida straw poll win made him a leading contender for the nomination, his net favorable rating among Republican men was +46 and among Republican women, +40. The gender gap held at about 10 points until mid-November polling, when it doubled after the sexual harassment allegations surfaced.

Recent Trend in Net Favorable Ratings of Herman Cain, by Gender

Gender Gaps the Norm for Republican Candidates

Republican men view nearly all of the well-known candidates, those recognized by 80% or more of Republicans, more positively than Republican women do. The gender gap in net favorable ratings for Cain is the largest, but there are also substantial gaps in Republican men's and women's views of Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Rick Perry. Men have a slightly more positive view than women of Michele Bachmann, the only female candidate. Romney is the only candidate who has a higher net favorable rating among women than among men.

Net Favorable Ratings of Republican Presidential Candidates, by Gender, November 2011


The recent controversies plaguing the Cain campaign have had a damaging effect on the way Republicans view the former restaurant executive. For much of the year, Republicans' opinions of Cain were among the most positive, but that is no longer the case. Republican women especially have come to view him much less positively, though they still on balance are more positive than negative toward him.

The question now is whether the damage is so great it will doom his candidacy, or if Cain will survive to compete in the initial nominating contests in Iowa and New Hampshire in early January.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking Nov. 14-27, 2011, with a random sample of 1,415 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of Republicans, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2010 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit

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