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. Ric

    “ 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==========

    Yeah but Clinton and Bush aren’t like Obama. Obama is a far left ideolog who has no idea what “ moving to the center “ means. He will always govern far left and never change. This assures his 2012 defeat because policies like Obamacare will tank the economy and ruin the healthcare system. Unemployment will remain near 9 to 10 % thru 2012 as well.

    Obama is out, no doubt!

    August 13, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  2. Uncle Snerdly

    I hope they get aunt Sarah to run.

    August 13, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  3. dot

    OMG it would be too funny Rommey and Palin, and President Obama- Hillary, SEC. Clinton would sweep any dabate with Plain
    as I'm sure plain would come up with more of her babble, you know mama grizzley, pit bull stuff LOL. yes I guess thats the best the GOP have HA!HA!HA!!!!!

    August 13, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  4. GSMS

    President Obama has no chance of being reelected in 2012. The 2012 election will be the Republican Primaries. May the best man or women win the primaries and become our next Republican President in 2012.

    August 13, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  5. vic

    Minnesota Gov.Tim Pawlenty is real competitor against Obama in 2012 other than Tim Pawlenty as republican I will vote for Obama

    Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt form republican party what happened GOP now

    August 13, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  6. JOhn

    I note that your sampling includes about 10% more republicans than democrats, when the country tally is something like 32% Democrats and 25% Republicans (rest are independents!). I note that many of your "Leave your comments" articles are closed for comments by the time that I get to worki (in the west). It seems that all of your surveys probably are not accurate because the Western time zones are under-weighted. ......right or wrong?

    August 13, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  7. Dont forget to call Rush on openline friday

    Please get Sarah to run and let the fun begin,she loves half of America.

    August 13, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  8. maine liberal

    "an unnamed Republican candidate would have a 50 to 45 percent advantage over Obama among registered voters"

    i never understood this question. to me it indicates either non of the above or that ill-informed voters will vote for anything and issues dont matter other than they dont like Obama. From the way republicans are acting just saying no and offering no real answers maybe thats it.

    National polls mean nothing its all up to the 538 electors and 15 states winner take all or the supreme court

    August 13, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  9. max

    these kind of pools are only to excite the public. None of these even begin to compete with President Obama. Obama will win hands down.

    August 13, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  10. Michael in Houston

    My goodness...Palin and Gingrich is the best ya got?!!

    Good luck with that!

    August 13, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  11. Rush is a giant birthbag.

    Go ahead Sarah,do us a favor and run.

    August 13, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  12. Stacey

    "President Obama has no chance of being reelected in 2012. The 2012 election will be the Republican Primaries. May the best man or women win the primaries and become our next Republican President in 2012."
    _____________________________________________________

    Haha! LOL! haha! lol! haha! LOL! If the Mayans are right, the world will truly end and I won't have to live with the GObP Party of NO! Yey!

    August 13, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  13. Operation Crush Rush

    Dittoheads can get a free GED on Rushs facebook today.Yippie

    August 13, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  14. Don

    I'm leaning on a Sarah/Newt ticket. Think Bush/Cheney!

    August 13, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  15. GL

    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."

    So the lying CNN polling want us to believe the TEA baggers are for Romney which is a lie. Sara Palin more the Tea Bagger type not Romeny because the Tea baggers don't have a brain as Sara Palin doesn't have a brain. CNN please stop doing all this stupid lying pollings they are just trying to HYPE people.

    August 13, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  16. nick

    Hey Rhoadie (and other like minded GOP'ers) if you want the trash removed vote Democratic and dump the corporate "Yes men and women of the GOP. They drove us to near-ruin and now they want to complete the job.

    August 13, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  17. Rickster

    My neighbor's parakeet would be able to defeat Obama and, by the way, do a far better job.

    August 13, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  18. daniel

    Americans, you really want to make the U.S. a laughing stock, elect Sarah Palin as president.

    August 13, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  19. Scott

    Romney won't get the GOP nomination b/c his downfall will come from the fact that he signed the MA health care, which looks almost identical to Obama's health care bill only at the state level, into law when he was governor. He's also Mormon, & unfortunately ppl are overyly fixated on religion, esp in the GOP, so he'll lose the evangelical vote, in the primaries at least.

    Newt Gingrich has too much personal baggage to be successful in a 2012 bid. Sarah Palin won't run, she'll probably just continue to fundraise for candidates. Ron Paul's a nice thought but he also won't get his party's nomination just b/c he's way off the grid when it comes to being mainstream. Rick Perry is insane, Santorum lost reelection in the Senate by a landslide (for a reason), & the other options are either no namers or have something about them that will destroy their candidacy.

    Most elections are about choosing the lesser of what ppl see as two evils...and the GOP has come nowhere near presenting a viable, electable candidate. This a list of a bunch of jokers.

    August 13, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  20. jeff

    The devil is always in the details. 1009 people polled – 494 republicans and 458 democrats. By my math that leaves 51 independents. So 29 of 51 picked repubs and 22 picked dems. How can CNN extrapolate how independents feel based on that small of a sample. If 2 independents changed their choice from repubs to dems it would be a tie within the sampling error.

    August 13, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  21. Buster

    The Republicans/Conservatives do not need a leader until after the November 2010 elections when we clean out both houses of Congress of liberals. This country can no longer afford liberals and demorats who are kept in office by unions and the moocher class.

    August 13, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  22. Shari from Madison WI

    What a scary poll! Just think: Sarah Palin as either president or vice president. Makes my skin crawl. The scariest thing, however, is that this could very wll happen, especially if people give into their fear. The majority of the Republicans are counting on hatred and fear of Obama because of who he is and what color his skin is to carry them to victory. If they do win I see a country that outlaws people who are not citizens from having babies here. I see a country that lives in complete fear and complete isolation. I see country who cares nothing about basic human rights for anyone but those who are born here to families that have been in the US for centuries or decades.

    August 13, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  23. GSMS

    I don't know why any intelligent human being would vote for a Democrat. They are ruing this coutry economically.

    August 13, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  24. jay

    Pick your Poison!!!!!

    August 13, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  25. GL

    Truth August 13th, 2010 12:15 pm ET

    "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.

    -----------------------------------–

    THANK YOU FOR YOUR COMMENT! Romeny is not the Tea Bagger favorite. Nice try CNN!

    August 13, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
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