CNN Poll: Two-thirds of Republicans say minds are not made up
October 17th, 2011
12:14 PM ET
3 years ago

CNN Poll: Two-thirds of Republicans say minds are not made up

Las Vegas, Nevada (CNN) - One day before a CNN Western Republican presidential debate, a new national survey indicates that Mitt Romney and Herman Cain are essentially tied for the lead in the race for the GOP nomination, with Rick Perry dropping to a distant third.

But according to the CNN/ORC International Poll released Monday, only one third of Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP say their minds are made up.

See full results (PDF)


Programming note: GOP presidential candidates next face off at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday, October 18, in the CNN Western Republican Presidential Debate in Las Vegas, Nevada. Submit your questions for the debate here.

Twenty-six percent say they are likely to support Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who's making his second bid for the White House, with Cain, the former Godfather's Pizza CEO and radio talk show host, at 25%. Romney's one point margin is well within the poll's sampling error. Cain has seen his support nearly triple, from 9% in September to 25%, while Romney's edged up four points.

According to the poll, Texas Gov. Rick Perry's at 13%. Perry quickly surged to the top of the national polls after he launched his campaign on August 13. But thanks to an uneven debate performance in late September, a distant showing at a much watched straw poll in Florida two days later, and constant attacks on his stance on illegal immigration and Social Security by the other candidates, Perry has faded in the polls. His strength has been cut in half since September in CNN polling.

"Republicans who support the tea party movement love Herman Cain - he gets support from 39% of them, more than double the number who support Mitt Romney," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Republicans who say they are nuetral toward the tea party back Romney by roughly the same margin – 35% of them favor Romney compared to just 14% for Cain."

The survey indicates that 9% back Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who's making his third bid for the presidency, with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 8%, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota at 6%, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania at 2%, and former Utah Gov. and ambassador to China Jon Huntsman at 1%.

"There has been little change for the candidates in single digits since September - just two- to three-point swings for Paul and Gingrich and little or no change for Bachmann, Santorum and Huntsman," adds Holland.

According to the poll, only one third of Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP say they will definitely support the candidate they are currently backing, with two thirds saying they may change their minds.

"With only 33% of all Republicans saying that their minds are made up, it's far too early to say the race is over, or even that is has boiled down to a mano-a-mano fight between Romney and Cain," says Holland.

The survey indicates that most Republicans say they are satisfied with the field of GOP candidates still in the race, although only one in five describe themselves as very satisfied. Republicans who back the tea party are more satisfied with the field of candidates than Republicans who are neutral toward the tea party.

Is the GOP nomination worth fighting for?

"Most definitely. There is a big 'enthusiasm gap' between Republicans and Democrats that, if it persists, may boost the eventually GOP nominee's chances in 2012," says Holland.

Two thirds of all registered Republicans say they are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting next year, compared to less than half of all Democrats. In the 2008 election cycle, the Democrats were more enthusiastic that then GOPers, a major advantage that helped elect then Sen. Barack Obama.

Some of the current enthusiasm gap is likely due to the fact that the Republicans are in the middle of a classic battle for their party's nomination while Democrats, for now, have nothing to pay attention to. But if that gap persists once the primary season is over, Obama will have a more difficult road back to the White House. For the record, Democrats seem happy with Obama - eight in ten want to see the party re-nominate the President, his highest number on that measure since June.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from October 14-16, with 1,007 adults, including 416 Republicans and independents who lean toward the GOP, questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points with a sampling error of five percentage points for questions asked only of Republicans.

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

Also see:

CNN Poll of Polls: Romney and Cain battle for top spot

New national poll shows Cain at top

Poll: GOP shakeup in South Carolina


Filed under: 2012 • CNN/ORC International poll • Republicans
soundoff (225 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    I have lost hope in USA, people voting for ROMNEY?? CAIN?? OMG you have to be kidding me, have you ever listen to their " speeches" both of them are air-headed. Ron Paul is the only who make any sense.

    October 17, 2011 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  2. Johnson

    Cain is a man of integrity whereas Romney's integrity changes constantly depending upon who he is talking to and which Public Office he seeks. Romney is such a fraud, I am glad Cain is showing him up.

    October 17, 2011 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  3. Doomed

    Maybe Perry can get the hint and get back to remodeling the Governor’s Mansion.

    October 17, 2011 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  4. ecuadorian

    I have lost hope in USA, people voting for ROMNEY?? CAIN?? OMG you have to be kidding me, have you ever listen to their " speeches" both of them are air-headed. Ron Paul is the only who make any sense.

    October 17, 2011 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  5. Paul

    I am an independent conservative, non tea party. Between Cain and Romney, I would lean more toward Cain. My ideal conservative candidate would be Mike Huckabee.

    October 17, 2011 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  6. epicism

    Cain's this weeks Trump/Bachman/Perry, is all. He may have 'bold' ideas, but those don't translate into governing or economic policy of any kind.

    My prediction; Romney/Huntsman. Any other ticket will have independents fleeing from the GOP in droves.

    October 17, 2011 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  7. allenwoll

    Either will cinch re-election for Obama !

    October 17, 2011 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  8. Woman In California

    NONE of them are electable. NONE of them are problem solvers, NONOE are practical and NONE of them connects with the "average American". End result = Second term for President Obama.

    Note to ANYONE thinking by electing Romney they will automatically become rich better think again. Just ask the people in California how that worked out for them.

    October 17, 2011 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  9. xyz198155

    No Matter who is elected president, America will be in a huge crisis for the next 25 years, sitting on its massive debt!! Unless America stops fighting these useless wars, and cuts dramatically on military spending there is no hope for its revival.
    It could as well spend that money in some cool scientific research, like alternate clean fuels or nuclear fusion.
    Imagine spending 100 billion $ on R & D on these technologies or maybe spending 10% of that on hunger in Africa, it will make more friends in the world!!

    October 17, 2011 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  10. RPsupporter

    Don't believe the "poll results" the main stream media makes up. Ron Paul is a lot more popular with the general public than the powers that be would like.

    October 17, 2011 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  11. mochica

    Republicans are idiots and until they either get an education or drop out of the political process we will continue falling behind the rest of the world as a nation. Many Republicans are poor yet do not realize that their party is only making them poorer while the top percent is doubling and tripling its wealth.

    October 17, 2011 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  12. us1776

    The past 3 GOP administrations ran this country in more debt due to 4 unfunded multi-trillion dollar wars and stealing trillions out of Social Security than all previous administrations combined over the past 200 years.

    And now their solution to getting all this unfunded war debt and Social Security GOP IOU's paid off is to reduce taxes?

    GOP, what kind of fuzzy math gets debt paid off by reducing revenues?

    .

    October 17, 2011 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  13. Bugpucker

    Romney is a progressive, you liberals should love him.

    October 17, 2011 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  14. ed

    just say for all you Obama lovers ,How's he doing for you he sure has destroyed our country,but I guess you are unable to understand this 9.1 % unemployment for 1

    October 17, 2011 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  15. K3Citizen

    God help us if Obama loses.

    October 17, 2011 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  16. L.C.

    I do not buy into this. This is media hype. I will be voting for REAL CHANGE and REAL Adherence to the U.S. Constitution by voting for RON PAUL in 2012.

    October 17, 2011 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  17. Jude

    The world's agricultural systems are already dangerously overstretched. Rainforests are being cut down to make way for new farms; groundwater used for irrigation is being depleted; greenhouse gases emitted from agricultural activities are a major factor in global climate change; fertilizers are poisoning estuaries; and countless species are threatened with extinction as we grab their land and water and destroy their habitats.

    October 17, 2011 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  18. Matt

    It makes sense – Herman Cain is the most qualified to fix the specific problems we face today. He has been a jobs-creator. He has lived the American Dream's rags-to-riches story. He's not weighed down by ObamNeyCare. And he's not a politician. Cain 2012!

    October 17, 2011 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  19. honky talkin

    Hank Williams Jr. will be the frontrunner next week.

    October 17, 2011 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  20. Sheila

    Go Hermanator! Just add a PREBATE feature like the FairTax defines, and that will fix the national sales tax flaw in 9-9-9. Everyone gets a $4000 prebate check at the beginning of the year to compensate for the national sales tax. That will take care of the poor. Done deal.

    October 17, 2011 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  21. Troy

    I will be voting for Ron Paul in this upcoming election. I can't support Romney, nor can I Cain and I can't support Obama either.
    I will be voting for Ron Paul in this upcoming election whether I have to write him in or not.

    October 17, 2011 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  22. Cassandra Chu

    Newt Gingritch and Ron Paul are probably the smartest... but they're just not *loved* by the Republicans. Romney is the most "polished" and Cain is the most "non-Political". Santorum is just an immature kid. Bachmann is just too evangelical. Perry is just too Texan. Anybody know when VP announcements are made?

    October 17, 2011 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  23. JayKay, Minneapolis

    I find it a sweet irony that those of the Tea Party motivated by racism might have to vote for a black man.

    October 17, 2011 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  24. L.C.

    I'll be voting for RON PAUL in 2012 – no question about it.

    October 17, 2011 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  25. Paul4Pres

    Seriously. I want Ron Paul, if nothing else, to win the first primary... I HAVE to see if the media can ignore that.

    October 17, 2011 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
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