CNN Poll: Romney on top, Gingrich fading & Santorum rising in Iowa
December 28th, 2011
03:55 PM ET
3 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. eric

    Slowly we watch the degradation of civilization
    the rise and fall of all we are
    stands before us.

    December 28, 2011 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  2. ron

    Ron Paul 2012

    December 28, 2011 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  3. Mark C

    Wow, now the nuts are turning to mr fecal lube as their latest savior. These people need serious help LMAO!

    December 28, 2011 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  4. ThinkAgain

    Well, this is a foregone conclusion, given that the GOP is planning on counting the caucus ballots in secret. Romney will first, with Santorum second or third, to string along the evangelicals. Gingrich will probably keep plugging away, given his delusions of grandeur. Although I think Ron Paul would be the worst thing for our country, he is polling high in Iowa, so he presents a dilemma for the GOP powers-that-be to push him down in the results without it looking too obvious.

    December 28, 2011 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  5. Donkey Party

    If Santorum is rising in Iowa, I hope there is enough protective clothing and boots to protect those poor Iowans from all that rising Santorum.

    December 28, 2011 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  6. Thecentrist11

    So it's probably going to be Obama in 2012!

    December 28, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  7. biased1

    This poll only sampled registered Republicans. What about sampling the relevant population: Iowa voters (including Independents and Democrats) who are planning to participate in the caucus? CNN is pathetic.

    December 28, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  8. kathy

    this is a very hurtful thing

    December 28, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  9. Jason K

    So, your sampling error threshold is + or – 4.5%...that's a pretty big margin of error. You're sure Romney is first? Really? Because I've scouted out smaller media sites in Iowa citing Ron Paul at or or 2% higher than Romney, with litte to no mention of wife abuser, moon base, Gingrich, or the bodily discharge known as Santorum.

    December 28, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  10. Paul

    Oh don't worry .. in the end by 2012 all GOP candidates will fade away into oblivion.
    I would love to Santorum win the nomination .. think what kind of fun we would have to see Santorum talk foreign policy . .. or education ... or Science ... think how much money would comedians make selling real good jokes about the guy... that would help the economy for sure

    December 28, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  11. gonzogates

    Ronald Paul and none other fer prez. in 2013!!!

    December 28, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  12. Ashley

    CNN poll?
    Don't believe in it.

    December 28, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  13. Capt. Obvious

    Funny how Ron Paul, who wasn't even listed as a candidate on the mainstream news, is now likely to win Iowa. But like Stalin said, Those who cast the vote decide nothing, those who count the vote decide everything. We'll see if the vote count is secretly moved to another location.

    December 28, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  14. MakeemStop

    This is awesome news for conservatives. Hopefully Santorum can keep the momentum going. And I also hope the rest of America will realize Romney, Newt and Paul aren't a solution to our problems.

    December 28, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  15. Eric

    That's weird CNN, because every other poll in the country says Ron Paul is leading in Iowa, not Mitt Romney. You didn't have a "Breaking News" headline for any of those polls.

    December 28, 2011 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  16. Cody

    This years nomination will be fun to watch.

    The only thing that will be more entertaining will be the Republican trolls trying to defend the nominee afterward haha

    December 28, 2011 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  17. GOP LOL

    Which clown shall win? Stay tuned!

    December 28, 2011 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  18. tml

    I really don't understand why Iowa has so much influence when it comes to choosing the next president.

    December 28, 2011 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  19. Alex Duitsman

    What about all the other political parties? I don't know if they are to broke or just that the media does not cover them. I think it is pure B.S. we hear nothing in the news about them. What if they good good ideas? Will will never know because these idiots in the repubs and Dems drown them out. What ever the reason I think it is crap.

    December 28, 2011 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  20. Kevin

    It looks like, yet again, there is no clear cut winner. Not just in Iowa, but in general. If these are the products that we produce from our education system, it is no wonder the United States will self destruct in 2012. You all can vote, I am going to stay home and live out my final American Dream. Watch Tv and play video games. More fun than voting my friends!

    December 28, 2011 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  21. George

    I'm voting for Ron Paul because the establishment is trying to derail his campaign.

    December 28, 2011 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  22. ThinkAgain

    All this GOP presidential candidate nonsense is just yet another distraction fabricated by the GOP to keep folks from realizing all their economic, military and foreign policies are PROVEN FAILURES and that they don't have anything to offer our country.

    Meanwhile, the GOP continues to block every judicial appointment made by President Obama, hoping to wait out his presidency (they've got another four years to go), doing their best to stack our courts with right-wing, activist judges who, like Chief Justice Roberts, want to put corporate interests ahead of everything else, and slowly strip average Americans of their fundamental right to judicial recourse (not to mention a woman's right to control her body and codifying discrimination against gays and lesbians).

    December 28, 2011 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  23. Logic in LA

    This media circus does not matter to the nomination, so why are we subjected to all this coverage.

    December 28, 2011 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  24. gino

    Elmer Fudd will be on top next...

    December 28, 2011 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  25. John Williams

    It's gratifying to see that the adults in the race (Romney and Santorum) are gaining ground. Ron Paul has some good ideas on reining in government spending, but I can't see putting someone in the White House whose approach to foreign policy pretty much matches that of Neville Chamberlain. The world is too interconnected now for us to be able to retreat inside our borders and imagine that that is going to work out well for us.

    December 28, 2011 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
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