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. DPinDC

    Why does CNN continue to exclude Gary Johnson? I don't understand, especially with how undecided the Republican base is on a candidate.

    October 17, 2011 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  2. Rosslaw

    It's easy to understand how right-wingers would have a tough time making the call with this stellar group. I think the candidate who comes up with (or wants to borrow-its ok) the idea that we need an amendment to the US constitution saying that the earth is 6,000 years old will take off. Or that morbid obesity is the sign of an "extra-American" gene. Or argues that they didn't need the minimum wage in the good ol' days of slavery, and so on ad nauseum.

    October 17, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  3. john applebee

    I thought the Tea Party was against taxes but yet they love Herman Cain. Well his 999 plan will raise the taxes on the middle class and the poor, but reduce the taxes on the rich. This is out of Herman's own mouth.

    October 17, 2011 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  4. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Well, the early primaries and caucuses are still several months away leaving plenty of time for people to stick their foot in their respective mouths bad enough to ruin their chances.

    To all those Ron Paul supporters, the only way he can win is if you vote. You just haven't been doing that enough. Honestly, his idealism is nice but won't work because this isn't an ideal world.

    @Cari, you haven't been paying attention. Ron Paul hasn't won all the straw polls. Iowa went to Bachmann; Cain won FL and several others. Check your facts please.

    October 17, 2011 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  5. Boomer in Mo

    Long time until the election and lots could happen. Cain's 999 plan will raise taxes for many, and that is going to pull him down big time. Plus, news is spreading that he is bought and paid for by the Koch brothers.

    October 17, 2011 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  6. William Lee

    As long as the news media and the "ELITE" progressives at the top of the Republican party are making the choice of the Republican candidate we are going to have the same kind of choice we had in 2008. A big government tax-and-spend "PROGRESSIVE" "MODERATE" republican, or a socialist,leftist, America hating, DEMONCRAT.
    If the sober, sane, hard working Americans can ever get our voices heard, we might get someone like Herman Cain on the ballot.
    As long as the Progressive comntrolled media can convince the gullible that Cain and people like him are unelectable, we can expect the sameo, sameo, and the politicians will continue to sell our soul to the Chicoms.

    October 17, 2011 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  7. AntiFringe

    Let's see. Are we saying that Romney commands 26% of the 33% that have made up their minds? He has 8% of all voters that lean republican? How about a poll of what we think about polls?

    October 17, 2011 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  8. ncalad

    Romney is way too sane for most of the GOP, so I'll be surprised if he gets the nomination. He is religious (but not a bible-thumping nut job) and actually seems to think that what government we have is there to help its people (a radical concept today). I'm bothered by the fact that he is a billionaire but he has run businesses which is more than you can say for most of the half-wits in Washington. (Bush ran businesses, but mostly into the ground).

    Having said that, the entire line up of GOP hopefuls is less than inspiring. In my view, Obama hasn't got the job done either. He over promised and under-delivered and all the reach across the isle nonsense means he wasted time early in his term.

    So who to vote for? Beats me ... they all leave much to be desired but the question is who is the least bad.

    October 17, 2011 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  9. ksuflash

    "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.

    Hmmmmm...if I had a dollar for everytime I've read on CNN blogs that the Tea Party is nothing but a bunch of racists, I could retire comfortably. Yet, 39% favor Cain. It doesn't add up, does it haters?

    October 17, 2011 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  10. elect conservatives NOW

    lowering taxes in general, especially on the rich will enable them to reinvest and create jobs and that will give money back in revenue from actual working people. pretty goddam simple. AND it works every time.

    October 17, 2011 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  11. Ronald

    Who cares who is on top of the clowns list. These people have already shown that they only want to bring more pain to the middle and lower class and give more to the top income earners. If you aren't a top wage earner and are thinking of voting for a GOP/Tea Party candidate then you either can't think logically, you are brainwashed by the right or you are brain dead.

    October 17, 2011 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  12. John

    Those who want to live, let them fight, and those who do not want to fight in this world of eternal struggle do not deserve to live.

    Occupy Wall Street

    October 17, 2011 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  13. Joe

    Voter's minds are made up about one thing for sure; regardless of the candidate; anyboby but Obama.

    October 17, 2011 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  14. Deep in Dixie

    Ron Paul is the only Republican, I would cast a vote for and the man can win against Obama.

    October 17, 2011 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  15. Schumi

    " john applebee

    I thought the Tea Party was against taxes but yet they love Herman Cain. Well his 999 plan will raise the taxes on the middle class and the poor, but reduce the taxes on the rich. This is out of Herman's own mouth. "

    Don't you mean to say that it will collect taxes from the 49% that currently don't pay any and reduce them for the rest that are over burdened with taxes?

    What flavor Kool Aid are you drinking?

    October 17, 2011 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  16. D

    I noticed they didn't mention which candidates Republicans who DON'T support the TP are in favor of.
    Oh wait, there aren't any!

    October 17, 2011 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  17. Matt

    Ron Paul IS a Libertarian. The only reason he is running as a Republican is, Libertarians don't win elections. Kind of like members of the Communist or Socialist Party running as a Democrat.

    October 17, 2011 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  18. FM

    Let us all witness GOP making history of not being able to nominate their candidate. Making history always sounds good!

    October 17, 2011 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  19. Tonia Fisher

    I don't think it will be long before CNN and other media have no choice but to cover Ron Paul. His support is growing by the day.....let's give fair coverage to all of the candidates. To speculate on who will win the GOP nod is just that; speculation. It is premature at this point–none of the candidates can be ruled out. Like the wall street protests, that some dismissed as young disgruntled hippies, one thing is certain: in a short amount of time there can be tremendous support given to a cause or candidate. TIME WILL TELL.

    October 17, 2011 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  20. Mujukey

    Hey CNN, tell your controllers the American people are not listening to your stupid programming. This country still has a chance and it's by making Ron Paul the Prez. Then we will see some real change and it's coming for you.

    October 17, 2011 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  21. Crotte

    This crap starts earlier and earlir every election time. This is a waste of time and money. Start the campaigning in the year of the election. Anybody that donates to this crap is an idiot!!!!!!!

    October 17, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  22. L'Wayne

    We've got to give Obama a chance! If Obama has 4 more years, than we won't have to worry about all the problems with the economy. The GOP needs to step out of his way, and let him take us to the most prosperous time in the history of our country. If you vote for anyone but Obama, you are voting for the destruction of our country. Obama is the only one who knows how to fix it, and we've got to let him do his job.

    Obama in '12 and beyond!

    October 17, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  23. Sniffit

    We're supposed to be suprised that they can't make up their minds? These are people who run around screaming "gov't can't create jobs" on minute and then screaming "Obama has failed by not creating jobs" the next....screaming "the Constitution is sacred" on minute and then "repeal the 10th/14th/17th Amendment" or "there is no such thing as separation of church and state" then next. They can't even decide whether to believe scientists who tell them that the Earth is older than 6,000 years and that Jesus didn't ride a dinosaur bareback into Mooslimland to smite the infidels with meteors called down from the heavens with his magical shepard's crook....let alone on a candidate.

    October 17, 2011 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  24. nyc

    I will vote for anyone but Obama.

    October 17, 2011 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  25. robert g

    I can understand the undecided. There are so many good choices to choose from.

    October 17, 2011 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
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