Poll: Romney at or tied for top spot in first 4 states to vote
October 26th, 2011
03:55 PM ET
2 years ago

Poll: Romney at or tied for top spot in first 4 states to vote

(CNN) – Mitt Romney is on the top or tied for the lead in the race for the Republican presidential nomination in new surveys in the first four states to vote in next year's primary and caucus calendar.

According to CNN/Time/ORC International polls released Wednesday, the former Massachusetts governor continues to be the overwhelming front-runner in New Hampshire, holds a lead over the other GOP presidential candidates in Florida, and is basically tied for the top spot with businessman Herman Cain in Iowa and South Carolina.

Full results (pdf)

But the surveys indicate that many Republican voters are still far from decided.

"Only about a third of all respondents in the surveys say their minds are made up," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

In Iowa, which will hold its caucuses on January 3 and is traditionally the first state to vote in the race for the nomination, 24% of registered Republicans say they are backing Romney, who's making his second bid for the presidency, with Cain, the former Godfather's Pizza CEO and radio talk show host, at 21%. Romney's three point margin is within the survey's sampling error.

According to the Iowa poll, 12% support Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who is making his third run for the White House, with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry each at 10%, 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%.

The Iowa caucuses are closed, meaning only registered Republicans may participate.

The New Hampshire survey indicates that Romney remains the overwhelming favorite in the Granite State, which holds the first-in-the-nation primary and traditionally votes second after Iowa. Romney is well known in New Hampshire. He owns a vacation home in the state, and was governor of neighboring Massachusetts. Much of southern New Hampshire is in the Boston media market.

According to the New Hampshire poll, conducted among registered Republicans and among registered independents who voted in the 2008 GOP primary, 40% say if the primary were held today, they would cast ballots for Romney, with Cain at 13%, Paul at 12%, Huntsman at 6%, followed by Gingrich at 5%, Perry at 4%, Bachmann at 2% and Santorum at 1%.

In New Hampshire, registered Republicans and registered independents can vote in the state's primary. The state's primary date has yet to be announced but is expected to fall on January 10th.

It's a dead heat in South Carolina, which will hold its primary on Jan. 21 and traditionally is the first southern state to vote along the road to the White House. According to the poll in the Palmetto State, Romney has the support of 25% of self-identified Republicans or independents who lean towards the GOP, with Cain at 23%. Romney's two-point margin is well within the survey's sampling error.

Paul follows at 12%, with Perry at 11%, Gingrich at 8%, Bachmann at 4% and Huntsman and Santorum each registering at 1%. South Carolina has no party registration and all registered voters may participate in January's GOP primary, but self-identified Democrats rarely vote in the Republican contest.

Florida will hold its primary on January 31, voting fourth in the primary and caucus calendar. According to the poll, three out of ten Republicans say they back Romney, with Cain at 18%. Gingrich and Perry each grab 9% support, with Paul at 6%, Bachmann at 4%, and Huntsman and Santorum at 1%.

Florida has a closed primary, allowing only registered Republicans to participate.

The new state polls mirror the most recent national surveys, with Romney and Cain the top two candidates.

"In all four states, Cain does best among tea party movement supporters. In Iowa, for example, Cain beats Romney among tea party supporters by a 29% to 17% margin, but Romney wins among Republicans who are neutral toward the tea party or oppose it by 14 points," adds Holland. "Even in New Hampshire, where Romney wins handily among both groups, Cain's share of the vote is four times higher among tea party supporters."

Only about a third of the respondents in any state say their minds are made up, and that number drops to just 23% in Iowa. Meanwhile, in New Hampshire and Florida one in seven voters are still assessing the field and don't favor any candidate yet.

"And one more thing to remember: Polls taken this far away from a contest are not, and cannot be, a prediction of the ultimate outcome, or even a very good guess of who will turn out to vote next year," says Holland.

The polls in each state were conducted for CNN and Time magazine by ORC International on Oct. 20-25, with 405 registered Republicans in Iowa, 401 registered Republicans in Florida, 400 registered Republicans and registered independents and voted in the 2008 Republican primary in New Hampshire, and 400 registered voters who identify themselves as Republicans in South Carolina. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 5 percentage points.

- Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PSteinhauserCNN

Also see:

Romney takes sides in Ohio union fight

Rick Perry touts jobs record in first paid ad

Poll: Romney & Cain on top in Arizona

soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Mittens is running an approval of 25% among republicans. In a Rasmussen poll, that puts him at -50%.

    October 26, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  2. plantingfeet

    Did you know?: Bill Clinton didn't even enter the presidential race till October 1991 and was considered a weak candidate at first. We are in October, Ron Paul is already at 9-10% in national polls and consistently moving up. He's not corrupt and he fights for our liberties. Ron Paul has my vote and my donation (investment).

    October 26, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  3. ConservaFASCISTS/TEAliban/TEAhadists

    Willard's poll numbers stay the same which indicates that he's not popular in the GOTEA. He's not conservative enough and he flip flops too much to be a moderate.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2012
    E. WARREN 2012

    October 26, 2011 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  4. GonzoinHouston

    The polls are so much hot air before the primaries actually start. Let's see who has what after people actually cast a ballot. Romney will most likely win this thing, but that's what we said about Hillary at this point in '08.

    October 26, 2011 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    "Mittens is running an approval of 25% among republicans. In a Rasmussen poll, that puts him at -50%."

    Math is for elitists.

    October 26, 2011 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  6. America

    Mitt will end up being the nominee you watch, the rest of the field is slowly becoming irrelevant.

    October 26, 2011 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  7. boocat

    This is the best those idiots on the right have, huh? We're in deep caca if any of them get elected. Time to head for Canada and desert this sinking ship.

    October 26, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  8. pierre

    These politican are nt hitting hard wht american want to hear jobs, tax overhaul, healthcare,Social Security, putting middle n low income back mke money, an quit worrying abt rich n big corporation. yu got millionaire politican trying to fix there pocket at cost of middle income

    October 26, 2011 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  9. Herne

    Mass Media polls are worthless......go Ron Paul!

    October 26, 2011 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  10. tee66

    This is before he did a dubble filp flop LOL

    October 26, 2011 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    Mr. Cain. Maybe if you *paid* the $20,000 fee, or whatever, in NH and other places so that you can actualy be on the ballots, maybe your poll numbers wouldn't be dropping. But, I don't think you really want to be President, anyway. Do you? I think you are in the race just to make noise, create straw arguments, and just be general distraction away from criticism of the GOTP canididates.

    October 26, 2011 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  12. Phil

    Ron Paul stands out in those polls to me. He is either tied for second (New Hampshire) or third in every state. He's not only maintained his ground but gained ground as well. All of the other candidates have been all over the place.

    FYI: Kerry was polling around 7% eight years ago. Paul keeps gaining ground and needs to be taken seriously by the media.

    October 26, 2011 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  13. Jeff

    I am so tired of people saying that because Mitt is at 25% in a poll, that it means 75% oppose or won't vote for him. What does that say about Herman Cain? He is only at 18% in Florida.. does that mean that 82% of all Florida Republicans are either racists or would never vote for Cain? Perry is only at 9%.. does that mean 91% oppose him and he should just give up now?

    If Romney does better than everyone else, then he also does better on everyone's second choice list. So, lets say Cain implodes and drops from 18% to 8% in Florida... Romney will get a good chunk of the votes that Cain loses. Its simple statistics.

    October 26, 2011 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  14. KET

    Did anyone notice that they only polled AGE 65 AND OLDER?!?!?!

    October 26, 2011 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  15. KET

    Ron Paul 2012! The ONLY candidate who MAKES SENSE.

    October 26, 2011 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  16. emmy skadittle

    So the candidates will attack the Latino community to pander to the old scared white people of Arizona (gods western waiting room) and wonder why they don't vote for you

    October 26, 2011 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    SNL got it right: MIttens is the ugly girl at closing time hoping a guy with beer goggles comes along.

    October 26, 2011 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  18. Hunter

    So why has Romney not released his tax returns?? Could it be another multi-millionaire did not owe a dime due to the loopholes????

    October 26, 2011 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  19. vic , nashville ,tn

    CNN are you endorsing Romney ?

    October 26, 2011 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  20. Playlacrosse24

    i wonder what the polls would show if they talked about RonPaul more... more than not at all, that is...
    Ron Paul 2012!

    October 26, 2011 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  21. Mike

    How about we really shake things up and vote for the one guy worth voting for. Elect Ron Paul!!!

    October 26, 2011 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  22. Robert

    I voted for Obama but likely will vote for Romney. He's a moderate who seems able to bridge across differing fractions. Harvard law and Harvard MBA. CEO of an international firm, governor of MA a tough state. Helped save Olympics in Salt Lake. Family man. These next few years will be citical to the US – our $14 trillion debt is out of control. I hope he's the guy for the job. Ron Paul's "fortress America" didn't work so well before WW1 and WW2.

    October 26, 2011 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  23. Robert

    Ron Paul's "Fortress America" worked real well before WW1 & WW2. Romney seems to be the guy with the brains in this race.

    October 26, 2011 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  24. David

    Why not poll anyone under 65? Why not poll anyone black? Why not poll anyone that makes less than 50,000?

    October 26, 2011 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  25. Evan

    I do find it very funny that they only polled people 50+

    October 26, 2011 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
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