Republicans are still looking for a non-Romney to carry their banner into the White House, and although Herman Cain appears to be weathering numerous sexual harassment allegations with ease, a new poll shows a certain amphibian nipping at his heels.

The survey of self-described Iowa caucus goers puts Gingrich in second place with 18 percent, just behind Cain, who is in the lead at 22 percent. Mitt Romney, who is routinely described as the front-runner despite evidence to the contrary, has dropped to third place (15 percent), a near tie with “uncertain” (14 percent). To be fair, Romney is not banking on a win in Iowa and he is expected to perform well in New Hampshire, where he has more support.

As Eugene Robinson pointed out in a column on this site, the consensus among “Washington cognoscenti” is that “Sooner or later, the party will come to its senses and see that [Mitt Romney] has the best chance of beating President Obama.” But Robinson is less and less convinced of this eventuality, if only because “most Republicans are looking for an alternative. Clearly, they don’t see Romney as the inevitable nominee—and they’re the deciders.”

According to an entirely different poll, most Republicans don’t care about the sexual harassment allegations that have been haunting Cain. Only 13 percent of respondents say they are greatly concerned about Cain. Although many among the political and media establishment find it impossible to believe that Cain will actually win the nomination, the former pizza company CEO continues to perform in the race.

But if voters do reject Cain, and Robinson is correct, who does that leave? Clearly Gingrich, who comes with his own cargo plane’s worth of baggage, is banking on a renaissance.

Gingrich is polling nationally at less than half of Cain’s numbers, according to the Real Clear Politics average. And when it comes to campaign cash, let’s just say the former House speaker is in the 99 percent. However, he claims to have raised as much money in the last month as in his entire last quarter.

(Thanks to Political Wire for the polls.)

— Peter Z. Scheer

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