CNN Poll: Gingrich soars, Cain drops
November 14th, 2011
12:03 PM ET
2 years ago

CNN Poll: Gingrich soars, Cain drops

Washington (CNN) – A new national survey of Republicans indicates that it's basically all tied up between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, with Gingrich on the rise and businessman Herman Cain falling due to the sexual harassment allegations he's been facing the past two weeks.

According to a CNN/ORC International Poll released Monday, 24% of Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP say Romney is their most likely choice for their party's presidential nominee with Gingrich at 22%. Romney's two-point advantage is well within the survey's sampling error.

Full results (pdf)

While the level of support has pretty much stayed the same for Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who's making his second bid for the White House, Gingrich has seen his support jump 14 points since October.

The poll also indicates that 14 percent back Cain, down 11 points from last month. Four women have alleged that Cain sexually harassed them during the late 1990s when he headed the National Restaurant Association. Cain denies the allegations.

"Cain is struggling with the charges of sexual harassment, and while most Republicans tend to dismiss those charges, roughly four in 10 Republicans think this is a serious matter and tend to believe the women who made those charges," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.

The survey indicates that only a bare majority of Republicans tend to believe Cain, and more than a third say he should end his presidential campaign. Among the general public, Cain has a bigger credibility problem - 50% of all Americans say they tend to believe the women and only a third say they believe Cain.

"Not surprisingly, there is a big gender gap on this matter - women say this is a serious matter and believe the women, but men say the story has been overblown and are split on which side they believe," Holland added.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is at 12% in the survey, basically all even with Cain for third place in the hunt for the nomination. Perry was at 13% in CNN's October poll. The new survey was conducted Friday through Sunday, entirely after last Wednesday's presidential debate where Perry suffered an embarrassing "oops" moment when the one-time front-runner struggled for nearly a minute to name the third of three federal agencies he would cut if elected president.

While Perry's overall horse race number has not suffered, dig deeper into the poll and it appears the "oops" moment is hurting his standing with Republican voters. In September, 72% of Republicans said Perry had the right personal qualities to be president. A majority of Republicans still feel that way, but that number has dropped 14 points since September.

According to the poll, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who's making his third run for the presidency, is at 8%, with Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota at 6%, former Utah Gov. and former ambassador to China Jon Huntsman and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania each at 3%, and 8% are unsure.

The poll's Monday release comes seven weeks and one day before the Iowa caucuses, the first contest on the primary and caucus calendar. The survey indicates that just over six in 10 Republicans say they may change their minds, with 31% say they will definitely support the candidate they are currently backing.

With Cain dropping and Perry flat-lining, it looks like it's Gingrich's turn to become the "anybody but Romney" candidate. If the GOP race becomes a two-man battle between Romney and Gingrich, the poll indicates they are well-matched. Romney and Gingrich are the two most popular Republican candidates among the GOP rank and file, and the only two with favorable ratings above 50% among the Republicans surveyed.

More than three-quarters of Republicans think both men have the right personal qualities to be president and more than seven in 10 Republicans say they agree with Gingrich and Romney on important issues.

The key difference between Romney and Gingrich is electability. For the first time in CNN's polling, Romney now tops Barack Obama in a head-to-head matchup among registered voters. But Gingrich faces an 8-point deficit when paired with Obama in a general election matchup.

"Among all Americans, 58% say that Romney has the personal qualities a president should have, compared to just 45% for Gingrich. Most Americans don't agree with either man on important issues," Holland said.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International, with 1,036 adults Americans, including 480 Republicans and Independents who lean Republican, as well as 552 men and 514 women, questioned by telephone. The overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points, with a sampling error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points for questions only of Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP.

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

Also see:

CNN Poll: Support rises for health insurance mandate

Democrats obsessed with Romney?

Cain 'totally respects women,' wife says

soundoff (444 Responses)
  1. Jordu

    Poor Herman would still be leading the pack if those women hadn't been white. There are lines that you just don't cross with the Tea Party.

    November 14, 2011 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  2. Robert

    As a Democrat, I guess I am actually hoping to see a REAL Tea Partier become the GOP candidate. Why? TP needs to be thoroughly discredited. If a Romney/Gingrich emerges as their nominee and barely loses to Obama, TP will simply exhume the tired argument that if only they ran further right, they would have won. I say, let the TP field their candidate, and let the TP'er get whipped by Obama by historical margins. Then, and only then, will the moderate Republican re-emerge and take their Party back from insanity. A functioning Democracy needs two credible Parties. I would like to see an electable Republican Party staffed by adults take back the reins.

    November 14, 2011 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  3. John

    WHO in their right mind would vote for this guy. I would not trust him as far as I could throw him. Come on people- think that what you say and do

    November 14, 2011 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  4. Veteran

    Newt and Col. Allen West.

    November 14, 2011 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  5. RIPRNC

    Apparently republicans don't want to win the election.

    November 14, 2011 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Romney beats Obama head to head and yet most Americans don't agree with Romney or Gingrich on important issues.
    Then who do the American people agree with on important issues? Just a little confused.

    November 14, 2011 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  7. Andrew

    Romney 2012. He will crush Obama!

    November 14, 2011 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  8. K3Citizen

    Flavor for this week is : Newt Gingrich! Next week will be Rick Santorum followed by Jon Huntsman.

    November 14, 2011 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  9. If U happy and U know it

    We have a new MSM / Predetermined "front runner".... I call BS.

    November 14, 2011 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  10. CaliforniaBC

    Gingrich may well be "conservative enough" for the republican party of today to beat Romney but is he sane enough for the rest of America beat Obama...?

    Probably not.

    November 14, 2011 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  11. sir_ken_g

    The GOP is desperate for "anyone but Mitt" even though he is the only one who is even marginally qualified or has a chance at POTUS Obama.. He's just not wing-nutty enough for them. Newt??? You have to be kidding.
    looks like FOUR MORE YEARS!

    November 14, 2011 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  12. RIP Clyde Frog

    I forgave Newt long ago for his transgression that hurt No One! Women folk will voe Newt before Cain I thinks

    November 14, 2011 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  13. Vosky

    ROTFLMAO!! Republicans are confused! The ticket is going to be for who can tell most lies. Now that brother Gingrich is surging, there is hope for brother Perry.
    I weep for my country!!!!

    November 14, 2011 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  14. bczu

    Newt??? Seriously? This is worse then the Democratic candidates in 2005.

    November 14, 2011 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  15. Ralph

    Its a very sad day, when Newt Gringhrich is perceived to be more ethical and/or moral, than Herman Cain

    November 14, 2011 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  16. thatmakessense

    How long will that last? Once its made clear his own past infedelity Newt'll take a tumble in the polls. I mean come on he cheated on his two previous dying wives. That's better than a couple of harrassment claims? I predict Romney is the clear GOP nomination...Not that hard to figure out.

    November 14, 2011 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  17. Jester2069

    Once again, any poll that is produced with margins of error reaching 8% in some areas seems hardly indicative to me.

    November 14, 2011 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  18. kit8

    SAD day for America when a 1990's has been is good enough to be elected president. W and Cheney four more years.

    November 14, 2011 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  19. Brian

    New flavor of the month coming up!

    November 14, 2011 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  20. Kathy

    This is my new favorite sitcom. It gets funnier every week.

    November 14, 2011 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  21. a6102658

    Gingrich is a lot more political savvy that Romney and I could see him overtaking Romney just because Republicans rather not have Romney, they prefer someone else.
    This is a great news if you are a Democrat, Gingrich is politically damaged goods, his Skeleton closets is a lot bigger than Romney's.

    November 14, 2011 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  22. Obediah

    I'm not a Republican and probably never will. However, for the first time I got to watch the Republican presidential nominee debates and I gotta admit – Cain to doesn't at all have the strong poise, that formidable character to be trusted. He did not directly answer the questions he was asked and It just looks like all he can say it 99 as a response to any question. 4 women alleging sexual harassment by Cain cant all be phony money mongers paid by Democrats to thwart his hopes of making it to the white house. He is toast!

    November 14, 2011 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  23. Jennifer

    Gingrich..... Wasn't he the guy that created the tax rates that all the rich are like fighting against?

    November 14, 2011 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  24. News

    Alright CNN...Time to go after Newt.....You got people questioning the Mormon faith for Romeny, and Cain's sexual prowess.......Newt's next..........

    November 14, 2011 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  25. Lee

    Anyone surprised? This is exactly what the mainline media wants. They love Newt and Mitt and other big government liberals. They are no threat.

    November 14, 2011 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
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