August 13th, 2010
12:02 PM ET
4 years ago

CNN Poll: Who's on top in hunt for 2012 GOP nomination?

ALT TEXT

Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul (left to right) top a list of potential 2012 GOP contenders, according to a new CNN poll.(PHOTO CREDITS: Getty Images)


Manchester, New Hampshire (CNN) - Less than three months before the unofficial start of the next race for the White House, a new national poll suggests there is no frontrunner for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

But a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday also indicates that the eventual GOP nominee would have the edge over President Barack Obama if the election were held today.

According to the poll, when asked to choose among a list of nine potential GOP White House hopefuls, 21 percent of Republicans support former Massachusetts Gov. and 2008 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for their party's 2012 nomination, with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at 18 percent. Romney's three point advantage over the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee is within the survey's sampling error.


The poll indicates that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is in third place at 15 percent, one point ahead of former Arkansas Gov. and 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Rep. Ron Paul, who also made a bid for his party's nomination last time around, is at ten percent, with Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana at three percent and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania at two percent.

"More than half of all Republicans we questioned consider themselves Tea Party supporters or active members of the Tea Party movement," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Romney tops the list among Tea Party Republicans; Gingrich is next on that list and Palin is in third."

The survey's release comes as Gingrich speaks Friday at the Iowa State Fair, a tradition for presidential hopefuls. Pawlenty stopped by the fair on Thursday. And the poll's release comes one day after Romney headlined a fundraiser for New Hampshire Republicans, his second in the state in the past week.

Of all the possible contenders for the next GOP presidential nomination, Romney appears to have the strongest organization at the moment. According to a spokesman, his political action committee has endorsed over 150 Republican candidates and contributed more than $400,000 to conservative candidates and causes this cycle.

For Democrats, the poll indicates the choice is much clearer, with nearly three-quarters of them saying they would re-nominate Obama if he runs again. Only 57 percent of Democrats said the same thing about President Bill Clinton in 1994, half way through his first term in office.

But according to the survey, if the presidential election were held today, an unnamed Republican candidate would have a 50 to 45 percent advantage over Obama among registered voters.

"That's far from a prediction of an Obama loss in 2012. Bill Clinton faced a 15-point deficit on this question in 1994 and went on to win re-election two years later; the elder George Bush had a 19-point edge the year before the 1992 election and lost," adds Holland.

The poll indicates the standard partisan differences, but among independent voters, Obama trails the GOP candidate by 13 points. The president has a nine point advantage among women voters, with the Republican ahead by 19 points among men. Obama has a 24 point advantage among urban voters, with an eight point deficit among suburban voters and trails by 12 points among rural voters.

Eight in ten people who say they are members or supporters of the Tea Party movement would vote for the Republican candidate over Obama, with six in ten of all Americans who don't support the Tea Party movement saying they would pick Obama.

"The demographics of the Tea Party movement explain that gap," says Holland. "Nearly four in ten white men say they are members or supporters of the Tea Party, compared to 26 percent of white women and 15 percent of non-whites."

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted August 6-10, with 1,009 adult Americans, including 494 Republicans and 458 Democrats, questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

Full results (pdf)


Filed under: 2012 • CNN Polls • GOP • President Obama
soundoff (94 Responses)
  1. Victim of GOP Taliban

    PATHETIC . Maybe the GOP will recruit another fake-wrestler, movie star,
    or former beauty pageant contestant to rescue them.

    August 13, 2010 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  2. Rhoadie

    Wouldn't the world get better if Reid, Pelosi and Obama got ousted?

    Would be a marvelous day.

    Take out the trash in November

    August 13, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  3. Huckapedia

    Late Breaking News.... Governor Mike Huckabee clinches his (65th) 2012 Presidential Win. His popularity is skyrocketing at a blistering pace across America.

    You can check out all 65 wins by googling:
    Huckabee Fan Club 2012 Poll

    August 13, 2010 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  4. ConstitutionalPatriot

    Ron Paul is the only one who offers the change we need! Anti war liberals and progressives, libertarians and independents alike we must join together and nominate Paul! Otherwise nothing will change, we will get more Obushma or a scare tactic neocon scumbag like Romney!

    August 13, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  5. Truth

    "More than half of all Republicans we questioned consider themselves Tea Party supporters or active members of the Tea Party movement," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Romney tops the list among Tea Party Republicans; Gingrich is next on that list and Palin is in third."

    I was going to give you a pass with the Obama numbers because everybody knows your lips are stuck on Obama's butt.

    But CNN your poll lost all creditability when you put Romney first with the TP

    I don't know anybody in the Tea party that even likes Romney.

    I can see Newt because he interacts with the TP.

    You hae turned into a joke.

    I

    August 13, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  6. Marie MD

    Losers and has been all.
    Unless they come up with a viable candidate it's four more years of President Obama.

    August 13, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  7. Fair is Fair

    "But a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday also indicates that the eventual GOP nominee would have the edge over President Barack Obama if the election were held today."

    Charles Manson would have the edge over Obama if the election were held today... what's your point?

    August 13, 2010 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  8. phoenix86

    Republicans can nominate anyone and it will be better than Obama.

    August 13, 2010 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  9. Gary, Hunt Valley, Md.

    So, this snapshot reveals one essential nugget of truth: The Republicans will be hard-pressed to defeat the incumbent in 2012. A bunch of less-than-inspiring candidates are canceling each other out. When a stiff, vanilla, blow-dryed type such as Romney tops the list, the train is headed off the track. When extremist, fear-mongering types such as Newt or Palin are way up in the discussion, you're on a bridge to nowhere.

    August 13, 2010 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  10. DIANA

    Please, please nominate Palin. That would guuarantee another fuor years for Obama. Though with what's going on in Nevada is any indication, she might win the WH.

    I hope Nevada isn't that stupid and the rest of the counrty isn't either to vote for either one of these loosers.

    August 13, 2010 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  11. Debbie from Arizona

    I wasn't included in this polling, but I will support President Obama over any of these Republicans. Personally, I hope the Republicans do nominate Sarah or Newt to be their candidate. That would be great.

    August 13, 2010 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  12. RealityKing

    Worse than Bush..

    August 13, 2010 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  13. Danny Cali

    I don't think so and I disagree with the poll.

    August 13, 2010 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  14. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    Theres no question about it Rick Perry would be the perfect choice .

    August 13, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  15. David Thomas

    As someone who voted for President Obama and thinks he has done well as President, I hope that Republicans do nominate someone similar to Mitt Romney or Sarah Palin. These are two of the GOP's nuttiest candidates, neither has a record that is compelling and they speak only in cliches. Neither offers much for the future except a retreat to the failed Republican policies of the past. But, isn't that pretty much all the Republicans have offered lately: old, tired and failed?

    August 13, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  16. CHUCK

    I would not vote for Romney or Palin. My vote will be Democrat or a third party candidate. The GOP has done nothing to help the average citizen. Tax cuts for the rich and saying no to every proposal is not the way to go. The GOP has to prove to me that they are willing to work hard for all americans and not just for corporations and the rich.

    August 13, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  17. BeverlyNC

    What Republican ISN'T running for President???

    They are a joke. No leaders. No unity. No ideas or values. No solutions for anything. No concern for the working People and job creation. NO NO NO on everything.

    Their Party is a disaster full of in-fighting, extremists, racists, and total lunatics. I wouldn't dare put a single one in office. They are so clueless about what is going on in real America. They are only focused "on winning" as RNC failure Steele says. They could care less about our nation's recovery.

    None are fit for any office. Stand up for the Democrats who have stood up for you and worked hard for you all year. They are the Party of the People and have passed ALL people-benefiting laws this year.

    August 13, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  18. d

    Not an Obama fan, but this poll doesn't really mean anything. An unnamed challenger always sounds good when people are tired of the incumbent, but in 2012, when there's a name attached to the party, the results might be very different. For example, if Palin is the Republican nominee, I'm guessing a lot of those independent voters would flock back to Obama. If it's Romney, they may not.

    August 13, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  19. RealityKing

    When CNN Polling Director Keating Holland's polling questoins have Obama down by 5 you know the progressive socialists are running scared..

    August 13, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  20. cardog

    Say what you will about Senator Reid, but if the voters of Nevada wish to send the nut cake named Sharon Angle to Washington, then they get exactly what they deserve.
    This lady has displayed a bazzar behavior and is certainly not representative of everyday Americans. I do not live in Nevada, so it is only my opinion that is stated here.
    To make a change just for the sake of change would be foolish if the only change is Ms. Angle.
    1) She wants to eliminate Social Security & Medicare
    2) Of course she hates The new Nat'l Health Care law
    3) She totally refuses to talk to the press, because everytime she has, she sticks both feet in her mouth.
    4) She believes that the Obama administration is in violation of the 10 commandments?
    Guys & gals of Nevada, please get your heads out of the sand and remember that Rome was not built in a day, nor can this administration fix eight years of mis-management on the part of the Republicans in 19 months. Please think.

    August 13, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  21. Steve

    From the perspective of predicting an outcome in the 2012 election, this poll is worthless. The majority of respondents were Republican, while the majority of registered voters are Democrats.

    August 13, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  22. obama victim

    so, "anybody".."someone"..."who cares?""...all beat Obozo.....?? how is that "hope and change" workin' out for ya??

    August 13, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  23. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    if THIS is the best list they can come up with then I see no reason Obama will NOT get a second term.

    Palin/Bachmann 2012

    August 13, 2010 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  24. Paul from Phoenix

    The best candidate for the GOP would be Paul Ryan from Wisconsin. He is a brilliant individual who understands what needs this country has, particularly the need to get our runaway debt in check.

    When doing the public meeting about health care, Obama engaged everyone in the room except Ryan, because he knew he would lose.

    August 13, 2010 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  25. Peace

    The comparison of the President with unnamed Republican is beyond me. It is like comparing him with nothing. The names available; Romney, Gingrich, Sarah "the lunatic" Palin, etc. etc. can give the real picture where the comparison stands!

    August 13, 2010 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
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