CNN Poll: Romney on top, Gingrich fading & Santorum rising in Iowa
December 28th, 2011
03:55 PM ET
2 years ago

CNN Poll: Romney on top, Gingrich fading & Santorum rising in Iowa

Des Moines, Iowa (CNN) - Did Newt Gingrich peak too early?

A new survey of people likely to attend Iowa's Republican caucuses indicates that the former House speaker's support in the Hawkeye State is plunging. And according to a CNN/Time/ORC International Poll, one-time long shot candidate Rick Santorum has more than tripled his support since the beginning of the month.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

Twenty-five percent of people questioned say if the caucuses were held today, they'd most likely back Mitt Romney, with 22% saying they'd support Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. Romney's three point margin is within the poll's sampling error.

The poll's Wednesday release comes six days before Iowa's January 3 caucuses, which kickoff the presidential primary and caucus calendar. The Iowa caucuses are followed one week later by the New Hampshire primary.

A new CNN/Time/ORC poll of likely primary voters in New Hampshire indicates that Romney, the former governor of neighboring Massachusetts, remains the front-runner, far ahead of his rivals for the GOP nomination.

In Iowa, both Romney and Paul are each up five points among likely caucus goers from a CNN/Time/ORC poll conducted at the start of December. The new survey indicates that Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania, is at 16% support, up 11 points from the beginning of the month, with Gingrich at 14%, down from 33% in the previous poll. Since Gingrich's rise late last month and early this month in both national and early voting state surveys, he's come under attack by many of the rival campaigns.

According to the survey, 11% are backing Texas Gov. Rick Perry, 9% are supporting Rep Michele Bachmann, and 1% are backing former Utah Gov. and former ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, who's spending nearly all his time campaigning in New Hampshire.

Santorum is campaigning on a shoestring budget, but he's visited all of Iowa's 99 counties and has made a strong pitch towards social conservative voters, who are very influential here in Iowa on the Republican side. Wednesday Santorum was up with a new radio spot on Hawkeye State airwaves touting endorsements by social conservative leaders. His pitch may be starting to pay off.

"Most of Santorum's gains have come among likely caucus participants who are born-again or evangelical, and he now tops the list among that crucial voting bloc, with support from 22% of born-agains compared to 18% for Paul, 16% for Romney, and 14% for Gingrich," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

The survey suggests that turnout on January 3 could be crucial in determining who comes out on top in the caucuses.

"Santorum and Paul may benefit from lower turnout, since they have an edge over Romney among likely voters who say that 'nothing at all' would prevent them from attending the caucus," says Holland. "On the other hand, Romney appears to have an edge among those who attended the caucuses four years ago - he did finish in second place in 2008 – and Romney does best among older Iowans."

As a result, the poll suggests it's difficult to predict exactly whose supporters will show up at the caucuses and whose supporters will stay at home.
"Add in the fact that nearly half of Iowa respondents say they are undecided or could change their minds and it looks like Iowa is a wide open contest," adds Holland.

In New Hampshire, the CNN/Time/ORC poll indicates that Romney remains the overwhelming front runner. He's supported by 44% of likely GOP primary voters, up nine points from earlier this month.

Paul is at 17%, with Gingrich at 16%, down ten points from early December. Huntsman, who's hoping for a strong finish in the Granite State, is at 9%, with Santorum at 4%, Bachmann at 3%, and Perry at 2%.

"Iowa and New Hampshire are close together on the electoral calendar, but the two states are different in many significant ways," says Holland. "Born-again voters are less prevalent in New Hampshire, and only a third of New Hampshire likely voters say that moral issues such as abortion or gay marriage will be extremely or very important to their vote; in Iowa. More than half of likely caucus participants say that."

The poll indicates that Romney comes out on top in both states when likely voters are asked to name the GOP candidate who best represents the personal characteristics a president should have, and in both states he has a commanding lead when likely voters are asked which candidate has the best chance to defeat President Barack Obama in November.

But when likely caucus-goers in Iowa are asked to name the candidate who agrees with them the most on major issues, it's Paul who tops the list. And while Romney leads on that question in New Hampshire, it's where he gets his lowest marks from Granite State voters.

Fortunately for Romney, this may not be an issues-driven contest. In Iowa, only 44% say that issues are more important than the candidates' personal qualities; in New Hampshire, only 37% feel that way.

The CNN/Time poll was conducted by ORC International from Dec. 21-24 and Dec. 26-27, with 452 voters who are likely to participate in the Iowa Republican caucuses and 543 who are likely to vote in the New Hampshire Republican primary questioned by telephone. The New Hampshire survey's sampling error is plus or minus four percentage points. The Iowa poll's sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.


Filed under: 2012 • CNN poll • Iowa
soundoff (248 Responses)
  1. brian

    Ron Paul is winning I live in Iowa and our local news has Ron Paul winning in a real poll. The cooperate media don't want him to win so they act as if he is not winning. Time to wake up people Ron Paul is the only candidate Democrat or Republican who can and will get this country back on the right track and get US citizen their rights, freedom and liberty back to what our for fathers intended them to be

    December 28, 2011 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  2. loco

    fade away, newt, you're done

    December 28, 2011 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  3. ruby gumshoe

    I always thought that a newt was some sort of slimey lizard.

    December 28, 2011 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  4. Bookenz

    Newt Gingrich is almost 70 and too old to be President. Plus his name is "Newt." Just no.

    December 28, 2011 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  5. Disenfranchised Voter

    My personal favorite is Huntsman. He is very bright and has extensive domestic and foreign policy experience. Additionally, his views are very moderate and he could unite this broken country. It annoys me that most Republicans are too conservative to vote for him – he is very anti-choice. Is it because he actually believes in science?

    Most liberals, conservatives, and moderates I know would support him as well.

    December 28, 2011 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  6. nuclearoption

    Santorum reminds me of something out of "children of the corn"

    December 28, 2011 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  7. Bored

    @blackpower... Really? That's your comment? No relevant commentary, just want to make this about race? With those kind of reasoning abilities I'm surprised you aren't campaigning for one of these clowns. Oh, right, Herman Cain dropped out and no one else is black...

    December 28, 2011 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  8. Romney Un-Electible

    No "REAL" Christian will vote for Romney so that being said Romney has no chance. I would rather put up with the MISTAKE Obama than put a Morman in the White House. Newt is the only hope for getting America back on track.

    December 28, 2011 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    True American patriots will vote Ron Paul in. We'll take back our country soon at the polls or later in the revolution.

    December 28, 2011 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  10. Ben

    Ron Paul 2012!

    December 28, 2011 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  11. tekstep1

    "Fortunately for Romney, this may not be an issues-driven contest. In Iowa, only 44% say that issues are more important than the candidates' personal qualities; in New Hampshire, only 37% feel that way." That pretty much sums up the GOP voter's thought process. Real smart guys.

    December 28, 2011 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  12. Jeff

    Romney will win the GOP nomination, everyone who is going for any other candidate will get behind Romney, and Romney will crush Obama.

    One thing to watch for – when Obama is in full campaign mode, please notice how much he does NOT talk about the economy. If this election is about the economy, Romney wins hands down. If it is not about the economy...well then...Obama may win another term, and I start to cry and worry about the future of my kids and grandkids.

    December 28, 2011 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  13. Doug

    I'll run through this thread bare naked if Ron Paul wins anything. Democat dirty tricks can literally register at the caucus' and caucus for Paul just to screw with the electorate....nice real nice. You can count on the OWS crowd 'being there' for Paul.

    December 28, 2011 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  14. Sarah

    Save this great nation....ANYONE but Obama!!!!

    December 28, 2011 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  15. Beth

    I never thought I would say this, but if Romney gets elected, I will have to vote democrat. I'm sorry, but I'm not able to vote for a Mormon. Not ever.

    December 28, 2011 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  16. Jay

    Dear CNN,
    Roughly 24% of the Iowa voting population that plans to attend the caucus is non-republicans. Ron Paul pulls 39% of these voters in the latest polls (post-Christmas). If you want to poll only registered republicans, that's fine, but know that it's completely irrelevant.

    December 28, 2011 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  17. jess

    RON PAUL 2012

    December 28, 2011 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  18. Bianca

    Ron Paul's picture should have been at the top, not those marginal candidates. If Ron Paul does not win, we are having a stolen primary. And given how his name, or his platform is not even mentioned anywhere in the "mainstream" regime media, it is not a surprise that he will have hard time. He is known only by the word of the mouth.

    Shame!

    December 28, 2011 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    So Ron Paul is 3 points back and Santorum makes the headline?? Ron Paul cant even get in the picture? Unreal that the media continues to ignore a guy that is with in the margin of error to WIN Iowa!

    December 28, 2011 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  20. geoplato

    How could the citizens of Iowa even consider a man like Gingrich who was committing adultery even as he was impeaching Clinton for the same offense? This is so sad and a direct reflection of the moral demise of our nation.

    December 28, 2011 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    You can ignore Dr. Ron Paul, but by doing so you betray humanity.

    December 28, 2011 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  22. Bob in PA

    Santorum 2012! To Hell with the gays and Muslims! Mandatory Mass for the masses!

    December 28, 2011 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  23. Mune Shadowe

    "A new CNN/Time/ORC poll of likely primary voters in New Hampshire indicates that Romney, the former governor of neighboring Massachusetts, remains the front-runner, far ahead of his rivals for the GOP nomination."
    This is likely voters, I would like to see what the stats are for the ones who are going to vote, I would be willing to say quite a bit different.
    Poll stats is DATA to be manipulated by whomever has control of it.

    December 28, 2011 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10