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. joe smith

    we think, your math is in need of tweeking..Pon Paul has 24%, and romney is at 20%..but never fear, Ron should surge even in spite of your erronious numbers..

    December 28, 2011 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  2. excitingman

    Romney is the nominee lets hope Obama crushes him!!!

    December 28, 2011 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  3. smc

    "Santorum has more than tripled his support" ... and in other news, the number of Iowans bound for the insane asylum has tripled too.

    December 28, 2011 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  4. kit8

    Mitt > Republican Party nominee
    The Donald > Independent
    Right wing split between Mitt and The Donald
    Obama > Elected president in 2012

    December 28, 2011 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  5. BigTBone

    No matter how hard they imagine it, there really just isn't a candidate named Abo. Personally I love the fracturing. There's really nothing to be said to make me believe anyone in the view would be better than Obama. Huntsman comes close but he's not insane enough to quell the far right freakshow.

    I'll be doing my part to give the president a Congress he can work with again. Any Grover signer is gone.

    December 28, 2011 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  6. Dan

    In a nutshell, there's what's wrong with our electoral system (or rather the American electorate): only 44% of Iowa voters and 37% of New Hampshire voters believe that "issues" are more important than a candidate's "personal qualities." For God's sake, you're not choosing someone to marry, to date, or to have a beer with – you're choosing a person to lead the executive branch of our government. Could it be that issues might just be a bit more important?

    December 28, 2011 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  7. AL in West Palm Beach

    I feel like I'm watching the dance of piranahs...whoever swim up to have sun light shine on them...is quickly eaten by the rest of the pack.

    December 28, 2011 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  8. Omni

    Ha! Santorum is beating Newt the liar. Santa loses to Obama by 30 points in all the polls. I must be a republican because I can't remember that stupid statement he made that put him at 2%. But I'm sure it will come back to haunt him soon.

    December 28, 2011 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  9. lucidguy

    Ron Paul is a close second at 22%. Doesn't get mentioned in the headlines. Nice CNN...

    December 28, 2011 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  10. Michael

    Might have been a good idea to at least ask a couple of independents.

    December 28, 2011 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  11. Craig Purcell

    Funny how the Public policy poll released today had Ron Paul at 24% to 20% for Romney. What happened? - why the big spread?

    December 28, 2011 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  12. Kay

    Wow, 16%!!!!! With that sort of a bump Santorum might get all the way to fourth place!!

    Come on. Santorum's just the latest flavor the GOP is desperately throwing out to see if they can make ANYbody popular enough to nominate so they don't have to go with Romney. It won't work, just like it hasn't with Perry, Cain, Gingrich, etc. Romney will be nominated and lose to Obama.

    December 28, 2011 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  13. Truth1

    Newt Gingrich is such a liar and imposter, I can't believe this lying bag of crap ever headed the Republican nomination. I mean the guy will say anything. I mean his own sister was on telivision and said she woudn't vote for him, what does that tell you?? Can you imagine the first lady with that hairdo, she would set us back 200 years around the world. Plus, I hear she was doing newt while he was still married. Neither of these two have any morals or shame, just what our kids need as an example on how to live their life. Cheat on your dying wife and everyone thereafter and get elected President. Newt, you need to sit your tired, sorry azz down!!!

    December 28, 2011 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  14. joby

    Ron Paul is the only legit candidate running.

    December 28, 2011 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  15. excitizen

    To those who constantly cry about who the "media is pushing" – get a brain of your own! If the media is that influential in your life and decisions – you really need to take a good, long look in the mirror. Evolve people!!!!

    December 28, 2011 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  16. Democrats for NEWT

    RON PAUL is as appealing as a week old turd and as likely to be President of the United States as much one of Osama bin Laden's progeny. Ron Paul is an anti-Semite, he's a racist, his views on foreign policy are dangerous to world peace. Anyone who supports him needs a heavy dose of psychotrophic meds. SANTORUM is a creep and will only ever have support from the fringe evangelicals. BACHMAN is a twit and married to a gay baiting closet case. PERRY is an imbecile clueless cowboy without spurs. HUNTSMAN is the most mature and reasonable of all the Republicans. ROMNEY is a robot and a bore. NEWT is a blast – he's a genuine powerhouse – says it like it is. NEWT will give Obama a solid run.

    December 28, 2011 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  17. JoeT

    Rick Santorum - the latest non-mormon we don't know enough about. And when we do?

    December 28, 2011 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  18. An Independent

    The president serves a 4 year term, but these GOP primary candidates can't maintain support among those in their own party for longer than a month. How can they possibly govern through Jan. 2017 if they're going to have no support after the end of Feb. 2013?

    December 28, 2011 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  19. ohio

    Love how they put a picture up with Ron Paul missing. Classy CNN. Classy.

    December 28, 2011 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  20. ThinkAgain

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

    If by "conservative," you mean religious fundamentalist, who doesn't have a clue about our guaranteed right to religious freedom, I agree.

    And exactly how can someone be called "honest" if they actively ignore reproducible scientific fact?

    Baggage? It was OK for his wife to have an abortion, but it's not for other women to do so? (She had a second trimester abortion to save her own life, using the reasoning that if she had not, her other children would have lost their mother.)

    December 28, 2011 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  21. gonzogates

    actually if Newt smelled his pootchute he would see that it stank like Obomba's

    December 28, 2011 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  22. Omni

    Newt had his 5 weeks of GOP fame. The foxboy is out for good now that he won't even comment on the lie he and his daughter told about his first marriage. This is classic.

    Too bad that the racist in the south hates Mormons more than they hate blacks. Romney will keep so many southern whites at home that Dems will take the Senate and Congress. Ha!

    December 28, 2011 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  23. libertyforall

    Ron Paul's been married for over 50 years. He's the only consistent conservative who's actions support his rhetoric.

    December 28, 2011 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  24. steve

    Booo-whoo for Gingrich and let the rest feed upon one another in a continued frenzy. Some of the most derange people in politics are in this group of pretend leaders and we'll all be better off once they are soundly beaten back. There doesn't seem much good in US politics these days but the continued contemptable behavior by these Republicans who do little more than block forward progress and fight not only with Democrats but also themselves – well, their day really does need to come to an end. We need multople parties working with one another for the people, not themselves.

    December 28, 2011 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  25. steve

    santorum rising....the visual is too much to stomach

    December 28, 2011 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
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