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.

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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. Lost inTexas FOREVER and EVER

    it is so great that Iowa does NOT represent the whole of the country. To even consider somebody like Santorum to be POTUS is pitiful. But the good thing is if Rick becomes the front runner he'll get attacked like the rest have been and become part of the GOP bloodbath.

    December 28, 2011 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  2. philipinuhoff

    Did Gingrinch peak too early? You mean did he SPEAK too early.

    December 28, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  3. GROVER NORQUIST IS A ENEMY OF THE STATE

    Newt Romney better watch out. Ron Paul and santorum are creeping up on their heels. I find it funny how Bachmann has been left completely out of the picture when she was supposed to win Iowa hands down.

    December 28, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  4. Taft

    CNN Poll: Romney on top, Gingrich fading & Santorum rising in Iowa .... Ha! No mention of Ron Paul In The Headline, And The Headline Image Doesn't have him in it either... This is why CNN continues to loose market share to blogs and small online news outlets. You know them.. They are the ones who just tell the truth as it is rather than twist it to meet their own political desires.

    December 28, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  5. Jariv

    Romney 2012 !!! The great leader and manager that the United States desperately needs.

    December 28, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  6. Why only poll GOP?

    You only polled GOP in your Iowa poll, but in Iowa people can register and change registration right at the caucuses, and those who float between parties regularly do.

    How can you consider that accurate? Obviously it particulary impacts Ron Paul's numbers since he gets so many independents, but it makes the whole Iowa survey really questionable.

    December 28, 2011 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  7. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Yesterday the faux job creator, spineless jelly fish, liar, flip flopper, chosen one of the Kochs and Rove, and spokesperson for the upper 1% of wealth, played down his chances. It is so hard to believe that this person of privilege, could be humble. Or is it that lying and dirty campaigning pay off?

    December 28, 2011 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  8. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    This might keep Santorum in the race since he said that he is hoping for anything but last place. He is good for ideological perspective that few people share and a foil for Ron Paul.

    December 28, 2011 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  9. v_mag

    Oh, the tragic comedy that is the Repugnant primary season. First you laugh at all the preposterous charges, the hyperbolic prose, the wrapping of small minds in large American flags. Then you realize that one of these ants could actually become president, and you start to get depressed and worried about the fate of your kids and grandkids. Then you're so worn down by the never-ending process that you just want it over with.

    Come on, Iowa. Come on, New Hampshire. Get it the heck over with. I can't stand listening to another lie.

    December 28, 2011 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  10. Jay

    Nice headline... wonder who's in 2nd place.

    The mainstream media is manufacturing a surge for Rick Santorum. Predictable, but won't stop Ron Paul's victory in Iowa.

    December 28, 2011 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  11. Adam Packer

    Why isn't Ron Paul's name in the headline? Some say he is the real Frontrunner...

    December 28, 2011 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  12. baumer1966

    Ron Paul is leading in your polls Quit trying to make it look like he is not Winning,You had a Scientific study done on likely Voters and Ron Paul was over 50% that was just last week So, COME ON !!!!

    December 28, 2011 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  13. Chad

    Romney should have a new slogan "Nutty Flip Floppers Unite!" and Santorum should have this as his slogan "I want war with China, I want WW3, vote for me!"

    December 28, 2011 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  14. Matt

    Down with Gingrich

    Down with the Grinch in Gingrich! Down with the Scrooge! He's just not presidential material. No, not after marrying three wives and having extra marital affairs. He simply can't be committed to 'one man one wife'.

    Down with the GRINCH!...for certain.

    December 28, 2011 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  15. vic , nashville ,tn

    This news was breaking news in CNN situation room what a joke

    December 28, 2011 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  16. Four and The Door

    I can hardly wait. Just get it over with, nominate Romney and bring on Obama. Let's get the debates going. I look forward to seeing Obama try and stick up for the results of the last 3 years. (" ...but we avoided the worst depression ever known to man?")

    December 28, 2011 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  17. diridi

    Romney is front-runner, but will not win to Obama....period. This is a Bible Word....

    December 28, 2011 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  18. Chris

    Look out! Santorum will be the next candidate the media shoots to the top and then nukes!

    December 28, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  19. N&W 1000

    Rick Sanitorium? Larry? Rick Sanitorium? Larry, all I need is five dollars. Five dollars from every American. The Bush's are trying to sabotage my daughter's wedding. Larry? Are they coming to take me away?

    December 28, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  20. fred

    Rick Santorum? Really? No one has heard a word from him yet. Maybe that's why he is 'surging' in the polls? LOL

    December 28, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  21. Notice

    Notice whos been left out of the picture above the article?

    People, we must educate ourselves or nothing will change. Read Edward Bernays "Propaganda" and Carrol Quigleys "Tragedy and Hope".

    December 28, 2011 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  22. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    My predictions:
    Romney will do well. He will probably place 1st or 2nd and use this as a springboard to raise more money. He will probably also do well in New Hampshire just to spite the Union Leader.

    Paul will do well. He will probably be in 1st or 2nd place, but no lower than 3rd. His presence will be a continuous thorn in the side of the established party bosses, and could cause a brokered convention.

    Gingrich is flagging. He can hope for 3rd, but has a chance to place 2nd. If Santorum continues to rise in the polling, he could drop to 4th. His total lack of organization in his Election Committee will count almost as much against him as his arrogance. He could keep in the race until the end and cause a brokered convention.

    Santorum is picking up steam. Instead of becoming an afterthought, his backing by evangelical leaders could bring him up to 4th or maybe 3rd place. His type of politics do not play well in New Hampshire, though, and he currently does not have the organization or money to properly compete in Florida and South Carolina. This could change if Jim DeMint decides to endorse him. This endorsement would probably result in Perry and Bachmann supporters going to him.

    Perry is flashing out. Every time he opens his mouth he makes Republicans long for that intellectual giant, George W. Bush. He will probably place 5th or 6th.

    Bachmann will also place probably 5th or 6th and will take it as a Mandate from God that she continue in pursuing the nomination. She will probably tie for last place in New Hampshire with Perry and Santorum if she continues.

    Huntsman doesn't really care about the outcome, as he is spending his efforts in New Hampshire. How he does there will serve as a bellweather for his chances in South Carolina and Florida – two states that are not exactly friendly to Mormon candidates.

    A brokered convention could make this anyone's game resulting in another candidate representing party "purity" and costing them the national election. Reaction against Congressional foot dragging could defeat Republican attempts to capture seats of retiring Democrats, too, especially if the Republicans do not come up with a charismatic candidate who can attract the necessary independent vote to coattail their Congressional and Senate candidates.

    December 28, 2011 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  23. Lenny Pincus

    What I take from this analysis is that Iowa Republicans are far out of the American mainstream and should be ignored.

    December 28, 2011 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  24. PJ

    Anyone but Romney the phoney.

    December 28, 2011 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  25. petena

    Here we ago again, with the flavor of the week.

    December 28, 2011 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
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