A majority of American voters think the sexual harassment claims made against Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain are motivated by something other than fairness.
A minority thinks the allegations are serious enough to disqualify him from the race.
Cain has been battling claims that he sexually harassed four women more than a decade ago.
A Fox News poll released Wednesday found that over half of voters think politics (21 percent) or the possibility of financial gain (31 percent) are behind the claims. One voter in four (25 percent) thinks the women making the accusations against Cain are motivated by fairness.
And while 23 percent of voters think the allegations are serious enough to disqualify Cain from the presidential race, a larger number -- 33 percent -- disagrees. An even larger number -- 43 percent -- says they need more information to decide.
Women (26 percent) are more likely than men (20 percent) to think the claims are serious enough to disqualify him. Pluralities of both women (44 percent) and men (41 percent) think it is too soon to say if the situation is serious enough to end Cain’s campaign.
On the campaign trail Cain regularly touts his business experience and management skills. Still, the candidate receives fairly negative ratings for how he has responded to the allegations.
Overall, 7 percent of voters think he has done an “excellent” job handling the situation, 23 percent say “good,” while 27 percent say “only fair” and 33 percent “poor.” Among Republicans, views are evenly divided: 46 percent say “excellent” or “good” and 47 percent “fair” or “poor.”
Voters disapprove of how the media have handled the situation. A 53-percent majority thinks reporters have been unfair and treated Cain as guilty, and 46 percent think the media have behaved the worst since the allegations emerged. That’s more than twice as many as say Cain (19 percent) or his accusers (16 percent).
In general, 28 percent of American voters say they have said or done something in the past that -- if it were made public -- would probably disqualify them from running for elected office.
There’s no gender gap here, as men (29 percent) and women (28 percent) are about equally likely to think their behavior would be considered inappropriate in today’s political climate.
The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 914 randomly-chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from November 13 to November 15. For the total sample, it has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.