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. bull123

    does anyonre really care about Iowa or New Hampshire anyway?? The real race starts in SC & then Fla

    December 28, 2011 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  2. gravis

    Could you imagine being one of those stupid Republican teabag-types that threw all their rabid enthusiastic support first behind GW Bush, then Palin, then Trump, then Bachmann, then Perry, then Cain, now who knows? One-by-one these "politicians" have shown themselves to be complete jokes or utter disasters. I would have to seriously start questioning my intelligence and judgement, and perhaps avoid the voting booth from here on in

    December 28, 2011 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  3. JimSim

    Santorum all the way. Conservative, honest, no baggage.

    December 28, 2011 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  4. tony

    According to the latest conservative family values polling, Newt is likely to marry13% of the Iowa voting population.

    December 28, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  5. Kris

    Well take a look a the PPP polling from just Dec 27th and Paul is on top; 24% to Mittens' 20%. PPP is known to be extremely accurate as well. Much Much Much more accurate than CNN caucus polls...I wonder why...

    December 28, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  6. Brad76

    I highly doubt anyone actually believes these polls, but w/e.

    December 28, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  7. Eric

    Gingrich and Perry are out in Virginia for sure, with Gingrich's fraud and Perry's lame lawsuit. Virginia's ballot law that Perry is contesting has been on the books since 1970. Better candidates than him have dealt with the law, so I don't see him succeeding. (Plus, he's a dumb hick that can't even keep manufactured talking points straight. Sorry, had to get that jab in there.)

    December 28, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  8. gravis

    Could you imagine being one of those Republican teabag-types that threw all their rabid enthusiastic support first behind GW Bush, then Palin, then Trump, then Bachmann, then Perry, then Cain, now who knows? One-by-one these "politicians" have shown themselves to be complete jokes or utter disasters. I would have to seriously start questioning my intelligence and judgement, and perhaps avoid the voting booth from here on in

    December 28, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  9. Jinda

    The Newt is down the chute

    December 28, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  10. don

    the media has done a nice hit job on Newt for the last 2 weeks, all hands are off Mitt Romney though. I also noticed the media is pushing Rick Santorum a guy who won't be able to win anything else, but could take enough votes from Newt to push Romney to a 1st place finish in Iowa. Newt needs Sarah Palin to endorse him now, to push him ahead in Iowa.

    December 28, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  11. jonnybgood

    first BOOM!

    December 28, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  12. steeve-o

    Newt's plunging, Romney's on top, Santorum everywhere.... disgusting.

    December 28, 2011 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  13. gravis

    Could you imagine being one of those Republican tea party-types that threw all their wildly enthusiastic support first behind GW Bush, then Palin, then Trump, then Bachmann, then Perry, then Cain, now who knows? One-by-one these "politicians" have shown themselves to be complete jokes or utter disasters. I would have to seriously start questioning my intelligence and judgement, and perhaps avoid the voting booth from here on in

    December 28, 2011 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  14. PulTab

    Funny, now it's santorum's turn. Give it a few days and maybe huntsman will get his turn in the nut parade.

    December 28, 2011 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  15. Daniel

    It's amazing that most mainstream news polls such as fox news and CNN always downplay Ron Paul's performance, if not completely fudge his numbers. Not to mention that Ron Paul's support in Iowa and NH are both around 50% republican. That means that the other 50% of Paul's base are independents and dissafected democrats. If we are looking for a candidate that can reach across all aisles and stop Obama and Bush's runaway government freight train then look no further than Paul. RON PAUL 2012!

    December 28, 2011 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  16. 2LIVEJEW

    I bet Santorum is really frothed that Gingrich is is in nasty, sticky situation, and Romney has been able to wash his hands of all of the mess. Dr. Ron Paul delivered thousands of babies so he's seen worse...

    December 28, 2011 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  17. Matt

    One important thing to note in this poll is that they polled only currently registered Republicans. Ron Paul's support comes greatly from Independents and Democrats who intend to vote in the Jan. 3rd caucuses. So this poll likely vastly understates Ron Paul's potential support. It probably also overstates Santorum's support. In the 2008 Democratic caucuses, almost a quarter of voters identified as Democrats. I doubt any Independents or Democrats will be voting for Rick Santorum.

    December 28, 2011 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  18. darth

    If Santorum wins, we are all f'n doomed.

    December 28, 2011 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  19. theswaf

    meantime Ron Paul holds the lead, oh, did they not mention that?...

    December 28, 2011 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  20. gonzogates

    Rick Sanitarian ain't got a chinaman with a broken foot's chance of climbing the Eiffel Tower!!!

    December 28, 2011 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  21. Tired

    Why is it every news mediam is so hard pressed not to use photos with Ron Paul in them along with the rest of these clowns? Ron Paul is running a very close second, and we show the other guys.

    Is the powers running the media machine really that hard pressed not to give Ron Paul the credit he deserves?

    I am not sure who to vote for at the moment, but will not allow the media to blacklist someone who is running, just because it does not fit in their little business plan.

    December 28, 2011 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  22. NyteShayde

    This GOP race is like watching a roulette wheel.

    December 28, 2011 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  23. Polopoint

    Breaking News?! *yawn*
    CNN Poll . . . Breaking News?! *yawn*
    Romney on top (today)?! *yawn*
    Please spare us the 'play by play' type coverage covering this thing like a horse race at the track . . .

    December 28, 2011 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  24. Terry Vann

    OK, I got it, first Bachman, then Perry, then Cain, then Gingrich, then Paul, then Romney, then Santorium.
    Can't wait until next week when perhaps Huntsman surprises them all by winning a state he already gave up on.
    Is this a comedy or tragedy, or what!

    How much you wanna bet it's a brokered convention and they draft Jeb Bush!

    December 28, 2011 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  25. Charles W. Skinner

    Again, CNN uses a weak sample size to create a false meme that Romney and Paul have some huge support base. With a sample size this small, there is a 1/20 chance that the results are RANDOM. The CNN/Time/ORC poll has a well known liberal bias in that the sample weighting is skewed toward liberal issues, rather than a properly balanced poll. This poll, like almost every other poll conducted in the last two weeks, is meaningless because of the miniscule sample size.

    December 28, 2011 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
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