CNN Poll: Perry still at top but Romney stronger vs. Obama
September 26th, 2011
12:01 PM ET
3 years ago

CNN Poll: Perry still at top but Romney stronger vs. Obama

Washington (CNN) - Despite his performances in the two most recent Republican presidential debates, a new national survey indicates that Texas Gov. Rick Perry remains on top of the field in the race for the GOP nomination.

But a CNN/ORC International Poll also indicates that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney does better than Perry in hypothetical 2012 general election matchups against President Barack Obama and matches evenly with the president on the issues and on personal characteristics.

According to the survey, which was released Monday, 28 percent of Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP say they support Perry as their party's presidential nominee, with Romney at 21 percent. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is at ten percent, with Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who's making his third bid for the White House, former Godfather's Pizza CEO and radio talk show host Herman Cain, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, all at seven percent. The poll indicates that Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota is at four percent, with former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania at three percent and former Utah Gov. and ambassador to China Jon Huntsman at one percent.

Palin has flirted with a bid for the GOP nomination, but the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee has not taken any concrete steps towards launching a campaign. Taking Palin out of the mix produces a similar result: 30 percent for Perry, 22 percent for Romney, 11 percent for Gingrich, and all other candidates in single digits.

The poll was conducted Friday through Sunday, after last Thursday's debate in Orlando, Florida. Pundits and analysts rate Perry's performance in that debate, and in a debate one a week and a half earlier in Tampa, Florida, as uneven. Perry's distant second showing at a much-watched straw poll of Florida GOP activists this past weekend may be a reflection of his debate performances, and his stance on illegal immigration and border security, which were spotlighted in both debates.

"Did Perry's performance in the most recent debate affect the horse race? Maybe yes, but maybe no," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Perry's support is down just two points, and Romney is up only one to three points - and since all those numbers are well within the sampling error, it doesn't look like much has changed, possibly because average voters aren't as plugged into the debates as political junkies are. If the debates have had an effect, it may be mostly in favor of Gingrich, whose support went from 5 percent in mid-September to 10 percent now."

According to the poll, the president's overall approval rating, at 45 percent, is essentially unchanged since July. Fifty-two percent of all Americans disapprove of his job performance to date.

The 2012 election will not be an up-or-down vote on Obama, but rather a choice between the president and another candidate, so head-to-head match-ups against the top GOP candidates are a better test of Obama's electoral strength.

The survey indicates that Romney fares best against Obama. It's basically all tied up with 49 percent for Obama and 48 percent for Romney in a hypothetical two-way match-up. According to the poll, Obama holds a five point margin over Perry, 51 percent to 46 percent.

In a hypothetical matchup between Paul and Obama, the president holds a four point margin, 51 percent to 47 percent. Obama handily beats Bachmann and Palin in two-way match-ups. But keep in mind, as always, that polls taken more than a year before the election have little or no predictive value.

Obama's ace-in-the-hole remains the fact that he is personally more popular than his policies. According to the poll, his favorable rating, which measures reactions to him personally, is eight points higher than his job approval rating. Fifty-two percent of all Americans disagree with him on issues, but 58 percent believe he has the personality and leadership qualities a president should have. And by a 49 to 43 percent margin, Americans say that personal qualities are more important than issues to their vote for president.

Only Romney matches up well with Obama on both of those measures. Six in ten Americans say Romney has the personal qualities a president should have, compared to only 45 percent who feel that way about Perry.

Forty-six percent of Americans agree with Romney on issues. "That doesn't sound like much, but it's far better than the 39 percent who say they agree with Perry. That 46 percent is also ten points higher than the number who agreed with Romney in his first run for the White House in 2008," adds Holland.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from September 23-25, with 1,010 adult Americans, including 447 Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

ALSO SEE:

Cain upsets Perry as winner of Florida straw poll


Romney uses Michigan speech to challenge Obama


Perry casts Romney as 'slick' at Florida GOP breakfast


Santorum: 'I condemn' booing of gay soldier, didn't hear it


Filed under: 2012 • CNN poll • Mitt Romney • Polls • Rick Perry
soundoff (187 Responses)
  1. juliana

    Really he is number 1? You want him to be number 1. Ron paul!

    September 26, 2011 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  2. Adam

    You people arguing about perry, romney, obama, etc. are simply ridiculous. Like arguing about PEPSI vs COCA-COLA ... but at least then you'd be acknowledging the corporate sludge dribbling down your throats.

    September 26, 2011 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  3. Adam

    Yes four more years of Obama, after Bushs eight miserable years putting this Country in to the mire its in now. You cant expect Obama to clear up his mess in just four years.

    September 26, 2011 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  4. Hugo

    Larry, what I see in Ron Paul, so far, is an inability to lead. People are frequently misunderstanding what he's trying to say. As Henry Ford said "the customer is always right." In this case, the customer is the consumer market. (It doesn't mean just one customer.) The same can be said for the voters. Their failure to understand isn't going to somehow sway them to vote for Mr. Paul. Mr. Paul has to find a way to get the voters to understand. Unless he does, he can't win. I think he should take leadership classes (yesterday).

    September 26, 2011 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  5. Bob L

    Romney is simply not in touch with the new extreme republican base. Perry knows how to control the tea party which is why he is a the top of the polls. The other candidates don't get it, they need to realize they can't get any higher in the primary polls by ripping the president. I'm not sure why so many people have latched onto Romney anyway, Huntsman is a much better choice for moderates and hasn't made as many mistakes as Romney.

    September 26, 2011 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  6. Emmy Skaddittle

    I hope the GOTP doesn't realized that the craziest candidate won't get elected

    September 26, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  7. jim sims

    When I read how these Republicans voted in their staw poll it helps me understand why this country is so screw up.

    September 26, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  8. NewMexicoMan

    Sort of look like twins don't they?

    September 26, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  9. Mike

    Ron Paul would crush Obama. You want Real Change and for your vote to go to someone with actual value? Vote Ron Paul!

    September 26, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  10. RCH

    What CNN poll. How can they call it a CNN poll if it's conducted by a third party? I actually haven't seen one poll that Ron Paul didn't win. Why is CNN and FOX and MSNBC and everybody shoving Perry and Romney down our throats?

    Ron Paul is the only one that can bring America back to what it should be. Open your eyes people.

    September 26, 2011 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  11. Kevin in Atlanta

    The sad part of all of this is that the 2 candidates that actually can beat Obama aren't getting any press time. Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul are by far and away the best candidates in the field. Yet, since they aren't "conservative" enough, they won't get the nomination and America won't actually get to choose.

    I voted for Obama last time. I'm not entirely happy with him. Yet if it were Obama vs Romney/Perry, I'd have no reservations voting for Obama again.

    September 26, 2011 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  12. TheDecider

    This guy Perry is so dumb he can't figure out if he should use toilet paper or his hand!

    September 26, 2011 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  13. Ryan H

    the republicans just can't get it toghter mitt Romney may do better against Obama while Perry beats him and the Cain beats Perry in Florida and the Sarah palins approval ratings are rising they just can't get it toghter personally noone in the GOP is worth my time and I will be voting for Obama HANDS DOWN

    September 26, 2011 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  14. The pope

    Perry is so dumb he makes a bag of hammers look smart

    September 26, 2011 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  15. DVoice12

    If you want a minimum wage job, no health insurance, and no retirement plan... Perry is your man or you can move to Texas!!

    September 26, 2011 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  16. 4 More Years!!!

    The masses will pull it out for Obama!!! The only thing you hear these days is the desperate squawking from the extreme right wing!!! When it comes time for the rubber to meet the road, the vast majority of the electorate will show up in support for Obama!

    September 26, 2011 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  17. dirtystone

    As a FORMER Perry supporter, I can say without a doubt, that he CANNOT beat Obama because he sounds like an idiot when he speaks / debates. Romney has a much better chance, and any people still backing Perry had better get a copy of the last few debates and give them a good listen.

    September 26, 2011 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  18. Tony

    We need a Palin ticket!!!!

    September 26, 2011 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  19. nuff said

    He doesn't need to worry about beating Obama-–around January there may be a new candidate showing up–Clinton-and I Don't mean Hillary!!--Don't be surprised if the Dems bring out their biggest gun of all–the now elder statesman–BILL CLINTON-he would be unbeatableand the allure of being a 3 term Pres may be too much to pass up for his ego. I say 3 term because he would announce he is in for 1 term only to fix the system–a savior so to speak. Lately he has been advising Obama and that makes him look strong(The Teacher) and Obama look weak (the student)--and right now we don't need Grasshopper.

    September 26, 2011 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  20. Leslie

    Obama the intellect vs. Perry the dunce, NO CHANCE!!!

    September 26, 2011 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  21. A.E. Neuman

    What, me worry? With Perry around people will think I'm a genius.

    September 26, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  22. DVoice12

    If you want a minimum wage job, no labor rights, no retirment plan, and a bad education for your children...Perry is your man, or you can move to Texas!

    September 26, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  23. mike

    How about someone who we can believe in!
    Herman Cane
    Herman Cane
    Herman Cane
    Herman Cane
    Herman Cane
    Herman Cane
    Herman Cane
    Herman Cane
    Herman Cane
    Herman Cane
    Herman Cane
    Herman Cane
    Herman Cane
    Herman Cane
    Herman Cane
    Herman Cane
    Herman Cane
    Herman Cane
    Herman Cane
    Herman Cane
    Herman Cane
    Herman Cane
    Herman Cane
    Herman Cane

    September 26, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  24. Brad76

    HOW is he on top!? Everyone strongly dislikes him, I just don't get it.... I feel like we're being TOLD who we should like, and we shouldn't.

    September 26, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  25. mike

    What choices! The clown vs the socialist.

    September 26, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
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