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Obama and Cain Get Good News in Latest Poll

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain answers questions at the National Press Club in Washington, October 31, 2011.

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain answers questions at the National Press Club in Washington, October 31, 2011.

In U.S. politics, a new national poll contains good news for President Barack Obama and for Republican presidential contender Herman Cain. But the survey was conducted before Cain became embroiled in a controversy involving allegations of sexual harassment going back to the late 1990’s.

The latest Quinnipiac University poll found President Obama’s approval rating at 47 percent positive and 49 percent negative. That may not sound like much, but those figures are up considerably from September when only 41 percent of those polled approved of his job performance, and 55 percent disapproved.

Pollster Peter Brown says better than expected economic growth numbers and the demise of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya may have boosted the president’s standing with the American public. “President Obama had a pretty good October. His job approval is up significantly. The end of the conflict in Libya may have helped him a bit and on the big issue, which is the economy, October was not a bad month in terms of economic news," he said.

Brown and other analysts say it will be the state of the domestic economy that will largely determine whether or not President Obama wins a second term in next year’s election.

Mr. Obama continues to try to build public support for a job creation plan that was blocked by Republicans in Congress who say the proposal is too costly. “I have said that I will do everything in my power to act on behalf of the American people, with or without Congress. We cannot wait for Congress to do its job. If they will not act, I will," he said.

The Quinnipiac poll also had good news for Republican presidential contender Herman Cain. The Georgia businessman leads the field of Republican candidates with 30 percent support, followed by former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney at 23 percent and former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich at 10 percent.

But pollster Peter Brown says a lot of Republican voters have doubts about Herman Cain because he has no experience in public office. “Mr. Cain’s strength is that people like him. Well over 60 percent of Americans say they find him likable. It is a good thing for a presidential candidate to be likable. However when we asked about his lack of experience in government, more voters than not said that was a problem," he said.

The latest poll results come as Cain remains embroiled in a controversy over allegations of sexual harassment lodged by two women when he was head of the National Restaurant Association in the late 1990’s.

Cain has spent the past several days denying the allegations, but he has also offered conflicting accounts of some of the details, prompting questions from the news media.

Cain had a tense exchange with reporters Wednesday after speaking to a doctor’s group in Virginia. “I am here with these doctors and that is what I am going to talk about. So do not even bother asking me all of these other questions that you all are curious about, O.K.? Do not even bother. What did I say? Excuse me! Excuse me," he said.

Some prominent Republicans are urging Cain to get all the facts out before the controversy does damage to his campaign.

Cain and the rest of the Republican presidential field face their first votes in Iowa on January 3rd followed by the New Hampshire primary one week later.

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    Jim Malone

    Jim Malone has served as VOA’s National correspondent covering U.S. elections and politics since 1995. Prior to that he was a VOA congressional correspondent and served as VOA’s East Africa Correspondent from 1986 to 1990. Jim began his VOA career with the English to Africa Service in 1983.