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. GISTHATRIGHT

    No mention of Ron Paul again. He's the one on to pof both. CNN Poll biased. Dont believe the hype.

    December 28, 2011 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  2. jason

    I saw this poll was conducted by CNN so I disregard it.

    December 28, 2011 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  3. Oy

    don....a hit job? I think Newt does that well enough on his own. I'm sure you also think that the media crucified Palin, since you seem to be a fan....again, she sticks her own foot in it. Stop acting like these people are martyrs.

    December 28, 2011 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  4. native new yorker

    So now Santorum gets his chance out of the clown car? Do you really want that?

    December 28, 2011 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  5. jonnybgood

    @gravis: Fear not as we're questioning your intelligence for you. So far: Boom goes gravis' intelligence.

    December 28, 2011 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  6. jj

    I bet the brown-nose who conducted this poll followed them both into the men's room.

    December 28, 2011 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  7. Jason

    "Newt is a really smart guy. But so is the guy who sold me my car and slept with my wife."

    December 28, 2011 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  8. Andrew Brenton

    Haha CNN is clearly a joke and only report what the elite tell them too! It's really simple just look at each canindates record and all are the same except for one, which is Ron Paul ladies and gentle men! If you like bold bath and war vote for any but Ron Paul, but if you like peace and freedom and prosperity vote for Ron Paul! Ron Paul is the one who is really up in the polls but are trying to manipulate and test you by giving each canindates a try at the top and if they can stay, they will receive the nomination! Common sense people!

    December 28, 2011 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  9. Oy

    I find it really interesting that people will randomly post "Ron Paul 2012!!!" on various message boards all over the internet. I'm sure there's no payment involved at all....

    December 28, 2011 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  10. Ricky

    With it being a telephone poll, I'm sure certain individuals were passed over to skew the results. I see other polls with Ron Paul in the lead.

    December 28, 2011 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  11. bill

    i'm still waiting on romney to explain how he managed to make all those millions, for which he is still getting paid 19 million dollars a year, to take over american companies, force them to take out huge loans to pay him and his friends off, then leave them to go bankrupt under all their debt they created – which would throw the american workers on unemplyment, and the production would move to china.

    December 28, 2011 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  12. Jenna NYC

    Rick Santorum is actually quite an intelligent, impressive guy. I never cared for his single-issue (anti-abortion) stance in the past...like it was everything. Women's health is paramount to me and other women. The law should be left alone. But as for other issues, he is spot-on...he might make a good VP to Romney's President. I've watched him in the debates and he comes off very well. Huntsman is my favorite, but he doesn't stand a chance. He would make a great Sec. of State.

    December 28, 2011 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  13. TigersClaw

    The great thing about being a Republican is that, apparently, everyone gets a chance to be the frontrunner.
    Obama 2012.

    December 28, 2011 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  14. Oy

    "NEWT is a blast – he's a genuine powerhouse – says it like it is. "

    Really? He went after Clinton for having a mistress...while having one at the same time. Do you honestly think he "says it like it is"? Seems like he is not too straight forward.

    December 28, 2011 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  15. V in Chicago

    Santorum would not be a bad choice if he could only leave his religion out of it. I do not want Washington or my President to provide me with spiritual guidance. That should be left up to the church or one's own beliefs. That, in my book, is the biggest problem with the people of Iowa. They want church to be held from the White House and that just isn't what the founding fathers had in mind. Seperation of Church and State – remember?

    December 28, 2011 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  16. Calif7

    Anybody but the flip flopper (Mitt) who hides behind the Super Pacs.

    December 28, 2011 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  17. Oy

    BTW, I don't believe for a second you are a Dem.

    December 28, 2011 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  18. roadwarrior

    shut up gravis you must be one of those left wing losers just sit back and collect your food stamps and welfare check while you stll can

    December 28, 2011 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  19. Spiffy

    So why is there a picture of Newt on the home page if he is basically old news?

    December 28, 2011 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  20. Steven Shaffer

    Why does your ticker on CNN say that Santorum is ahead of Paul?

    December 28, 2011 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  21. Janece

    LOL Ron Paul is only 3 points behind Romney (according to this article. Other polls say that he's clearly winning in Iowa) and the CNN hacks couldn't even put him in the photo. RON PAUL 2012!!!

    December 28, 2011 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  22. alin

    funny how Ron Paul is not even in the picture lol .... it must be ONLY with the loosing candidates hahaha

    December 28, 2011 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  23. Janet

    "personal qualities are more important than the issues" WHAT??? No wonder this country is going downhill fast.

    December 28, 2011 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  24. WJMalan

    Santorum, Bachmann, and Perry have picked up some of the refugees from the Herman Cain camp, as well as some who fell off the careening Newt Bandwagon. It is not the inherent strength of any of three "social conservative" candidates that has caused them to gain ground since November, but the crashing of Cain and Gingrich.

    If these three social conservative stooges really cared about their cause, two of them would fold and support the third.

    Despite Newsmax and other neocon electronic fish-wrap hyping Newt, his collapse continues. Of the mainstream Republicans, all of them rabid interventionists, only Romney can beat Obama. Newt is so loathed, he has no chance. Imagine the female vote reaction to one of the reasons Newt dumped his first wife – that she was too old and not pretty enough to be First Lady.

    The attacks on Ron Paul are not unexpected. Hopefully he will weather them. If not, I hold out hope that RP will run as the VP candidate on the Libertarian Party ticket with Gary Johnson.

    December 28, 2011 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  25. Save Us Jeebus

    Sorry, Newt. Bringing up Santorum's rear is not where you wanna be. But, then again, Iowans picked Huckabee (34%, McCain got just 13%) in 2008, so I wouldn't give too much weight to the caucuses. Iowans (at least the Republicans) don't really know what they're doing...any more than the rest of us do. Which begs the question – why the heck are these caucuses such a big deal?!

    December 28, 2011 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
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