CNN Poll: Gingrich lead gone, dead even with Romney
December 19th, 2011
11:55 AM ET
3 years ago

CNN Poll: Gingrich lead gone, dead even with Romney

Washington (CNN) - Newt Gingrich's lead in the race for the GOP presidential nomination has evaporated, according to a new national survey.

A CNN/ORC International Poll released Monday indicates that 28% of Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP say the former House speaker is their choice for their party's nominee, with an equal amount supporting former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. In CNN's previous national poll, conducted last month, Gingrich held a 24%-20% margin over Romney. And Gingrich's lead over the rest of the field of candidates was even larger in other surveys conducted at the beginning of this month.

Full results (pdf)

"Early-December polls from other organizations tended to show Gingrich's support in the mid-30s with Romney in second place, so the current figures indicate that Romney has recently gained ground at Gingrich's expense," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

According to the new CNN survey, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas is in third place at 14%. That's a five point rise for Paul since last month's poll. The survey indicates Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota at 8%, Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 7%, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania at 4%, former Utah Gov. and former ambassador to China Jon Huntsman at 2%, and nine percent undecided.

With 15 days left until the Iowa caucuses, which kickoff the presidential primary and caucus calendar, the poll indicates that only 35% of Republicans are definitely supporting the candidate they're currently backing, with the rest undecided or willing to change their minds.

So what's behind Romney's rise and Gingrich's drop in the poll?

"Romney's appeal to Republican voters seems to be based mostly on his personal qualities, many of which - including likability and trustworthiness - are problem areas for Gingrich. For Romney, that's not a bad position to be in when six in ten Republicans say that personal characteristics will matter more than issues when they decide which GOP candidate to support," Holland said.

The survey indicates that a plurality of Republicans nationwide say that Romney best represents the personal qualities a president should have. Romney is viewed as the most honest and trustworthy candidate, with only 12% saying that Gingrich is the most trustworthy Republican in the race - his lowest score on any item tested.

And Romney is seen as the most likable Republican in the field, beating Gingrich and Bachmann on that measure by a two-to-one margin.

"Gingrich has one major advantage - he remains the candidate who Republicans view as the strongest leader, with more than four in ten giving Gingrich a thumbs-up on leadership," Holland added.

Just over four in ten Republicans say that they think Romney, who's making his second bid for the White House, is most likely to win the GOP nomination, regardless of whom they are backing, with Gingrich four points back at 37%. Everyone else is in single digits. As for which candidate has the best shot of beating President Barack Obama next November, 36% say Romney and 35% say Gingrich, with everyone else in single digits.

More than eight in ten Democrats and independents who lean towards the Democratic party say they want Obama to be renominated next year.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from Dec. 16-18, with 1,015 adult Americans, including 436 Republicans and independents who lean Republican and 497 Democrats and independents who lean towards the Democratic party, questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Also see:

Bachmann pauses in Iowa tour to talk 'myth' of Kinsey Report

Paul claims Bachmann 'hates' Muslims

S.C. governor rallies crowd for Romney


Filed under: 2012 • CNN/ORC International poll • Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich • Polls • Republicans
soundoff (136 Responses)
  1. Sirned

    Newt will get the old family values voters. Why? Just because they don't think very clearly anymore, I'm afraid.

    December 19, 2011 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  2. greg

    learn the game people. Gingrich was never intended to win the nomination. At best he's aiming for cabinet position but most likely Gingrich is going for more exposure to add credibility for his future consulting work. The real nomination will go to Romney with Perry as the VP nod. This has been known for some time by the people in the know. Don't fall for the game, Romney / Perry is already set.

    December 19, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  3. CaliMafia

    GOP, GOP, what a mess
    Your candidates are worth less and less
    They fight and they bicker
    And no one is slicker
    Than Newt with a new mistress.

    December 19, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  4. McShannon

    What happened to sparkling clean candidates worthy by their record?

    December 19, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  5. Manny

    It is fairly obvious that CNN is doing everythng it can short of out right misprepresentation (though it has come very close) to obscure, distort and otherwise undermine the real performance of RON PAUL both in IOWA and Nationally. It cleverly manipulates statistical poll results to "conform" to its story about front runners (Romney, Gingrich and Perry) but NEVER PAUL.
    When "forced" to write about Paul because the results cannot be ignored it nevertheless results to "excusing" his performance by blaming his "followers" "distortion" of the Polls and mined comments about about how "unpopular" or "obnoxious: his views are.
    I was not "sold" on Paul until I saw how incredibly hard the mainstream media is directly and indirectly working to "exclude" him from the realm of possible candidates. Probably becasue it is him more than any other candicate who stands THE BEST CHANCE of beating OBAMA. THe media wants us to pick the candidate with the least chance of beating its true "choice" for 2012 ; OBAMA.
    For all that CNN, CBC, NBC and FOX have done to deny me the right to choose I now CHOOSE RON PAUL. More than ever !

    December 19, 2011 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  6. Tom

    How can you conclude that Gingrich is losing support from these poll numbers. Since the last poll, his numbers have gone from 24 to 28%. That sure looks like an increase in support to me. This hack jub is just more evidence of the media trying to pick the candidate for us. Don't listen to them, they don't have the right to pick our candidate. Vote for who you think best represents your viewpoints, has good ideas to get our country back on track, and has the abilty to win.

    December 19, 2011 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  7. Jay

    Mitt = nominee – – Obama becomes President – – United States DOOMED!
    Mitt= nominee – – Mitt becomes President – – United States Doomed!
    Any of the existing Candidates or spoken about candidates on either side become President – United States Doomed!
    United States only hope – some miracle happens and we get a President who A) gives a damn about honest hardworking actual taxpayers B) tells all low life bottom feeding mouth breathers to stop pigging out at the government trough C) tells all rich stinking tax credit demanding special interests that it is time they pair there fair share and stop manipulating the system D) doesn't want to be President just to put forth their own idea of Christianity while condemning the rest of the world because they are elected to legislate not moralize! Just my thoughts!

    December 19, 2011 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  8. Jules

    Thank goodness. Newt would be much too easy a target for Obama. If we have a Romney-Obama match-up, we will hear about real issues instead of wasting time on all of Gingrich's mistresses and the ethics violations. Let's have a real election this time instead of a mudslinging dog and pony show.

    December 19, 2011 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  9. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    >Only problem with that view is that Romney will tack so far to the Right to win and keep the loonies happy that he will alienate the moderates and independents he needs to win.

    Not necessarily. More and more people are lining up behind Mitt Romney because he has shown to be the most conservative candidate that has a chance to beat Obama. Liberals think that Republicans are going to nominate some far right bomb thrower regardless of whether they think he can win in November. Sorry, you're just dreaming. Nothing new there. Romney vs. Obama is a clear choice. Proven SUCCESSFUL experience, versus 4 years of failure. Only clueless kool aide drinkers will vote for Obama again.

    December 19, 2011 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  10. Rsprings

    Here is my Analysis
    Obama-The country cannot afford 4 more years of his policies.
    Gingrich-every time he opens his mouth he proves he cannot govern from the middle.
    Bachmann-Her time has passed she proved she is to far right to be effective.
    Paul-Really? He sounds like someone's crazy uncle.
    Santorum-a possible VP candidate at best.
    Huntsman-to milk toast to be a world leader. (see how well it worked for Obama)
    Romney-A solid candidate that Republicans can get behind and independents will favor over anyother including Obama.
    I don't think I missed anyone did I ?

    December 19, 2011 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  11. JMichaelG

    Wait so the poll used more voters who tend to lean Dem than voters who tend to lean Rep? Call me crazy, but is that not the dumbest thing you've ever heard? Why in God's name would you poll even half as many democrats when they don't vote in the primary? Its well known Democrats hate Gingrich. Seems like an easy way to skew a poll towards Romney.

    December 19, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
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