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. Tr1Xen

    I predicted a year ago that Romney would come out on top. He's the one with the least baggage and who speaks the most "like a politician." Whether we like it or not, that's usually who we end up electing. I don't particularly care for Romney, but I'd much rather have him that Obama for president.

    December 28, 2011 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  2. CruiseAustin

    Dr. Ron Paul has continued to rise in the polls in Iowa. Dr. Paul makes the most sense out of any candidate out there. Let's bring all our troops home. Close all the bases (900+) around the world. We are broke. We can't do this anymore. I can't run my household like the U.S. government runs its affairs. I support Dr. Paul for 2012. I voted as a Democrat all my life and this is the first time someone has come along with the right ideas and the understanding of why we are in the mess we are in. Also, Dr. Paul understands what we need to do as a country to turn ourselves around and be great again.

    December 28, 2011 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  3. Bill

    Alas, the bombastic and bloated Gingrich has seen his star shine, burn out and fall back to earth. Too bad, I had hoped he would have given Mr. Brylcreem a run for his money. No matter, Obama takes the prize in 2012.

    December 28, 2011 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  4. na na na na, hey hey hey

    bye, bye, clown!

    December 28, 2011 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  5. josh

    how does ron paul poll amongest minorities, specifically blacks nationally, hispanics don't really count, as most favor a the dems. romney will get the vote as he is considered by many as the moderate choice regardless of what he says he is or isn't, and he is and has been for quite some time the GOP's obvious choice, i'm a liberal and i can see he's the best choice, everyone else seems like they're nuts, especially from the teaparty.

    December 28, 2011 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  6. babs

    Stick a fork in Ron Paul – he's done.

    December 28, 2011 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  7. Lesa

    Say whatever you. Anybody with half a brain never doubted that Romney was going to be the repub candidate but the thing is he has no way of winning. I mean how many average Americans can relate to a goodlooking super rich mormon. Obamas got this one in the bag.

    December 28, 2011 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  8. Phil

    All three are idiots anyway...except for Romney...he's a retard.

    December 28, 2011 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  9. TigersClaw

    Seriously, the Ron Paul trolls need to stop whining. He gets mentioned as often as he deserves to,

    December 28, 2011 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  10. Curt

    Never been to Iowa but just wondering if there is a lot of interbreeding there between relatives. To think that 36% of them think Santorum, Perry or Bachman is qualified to be President is real scary.

    December 28, 2011 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  11. izy

    Gingrich: Campaign worker's signature fraud cost slot on Virginia ballot, sounds like typical Repub actions, and Romney is no saint either, that man is a warmonger, he is going to have all our allies turn on us, the repubs are going to bring destruction to this country.

    December 28, 2011 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  12. RememberTheIncrease

    Santorum may be gaining ground and saying all the right things, but I'll always remember the midnight pay raise that cost him his job.

    December 28, 2011 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  13. Gerald

    Romney supports undeclared wars, banker bailouts, and the Patriot Act. His top contributors are Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, and JP Morgan (same as Obama). He won't reveal his tax return, 'nough said.

    December 28, 2011 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  14. Church of Suicidal

    And the politics of hate get their time in the sun. Unfortunately, this means Frothy Rick's campaign will continue for a little while longer. It's only a matter of time before the Santorum gets smeared, though. How's that for a visual?

    December 28, 2011 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  15. Slash

    lol @ all the ron paul people. He has NO chance of becoming President. His ideas appeal only to young, stupid, naive kids. The moment his "brilliant" ideas are introduced to the public at large, they will be disgusted at his xenophobia, racism, anti-gay bigotry, and desire to dismantle the things that keep us a first world country.

    December 28, 2011 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  16. SafeJourney

    When did Politics become such a joke. I remember, back in the day, (that kinda tells you how old I am) when this process of chosing the next POTUS was serious AND respectful. Guess not anymore

    December 28, 2011 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  17. michael

    Newt is laughable. He's a man living in total denial of everything.

    December 28, 2011 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  18. Fred54

    Setting the stage to steal the election from Ron Paul I see with the votes being counted at an "undisclosed location"
    Romney is the Israel and Banker approved candidate so he can't win legitimately.

    December 28, 2011 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  19. give it to me straight

    News Flash – January 3, 2012 – in Iowa the new leader of the republican poll is...

    Give it a rest – only have 6 days to see who the leader is...

    December 28, 2011 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  20. Scot

    If this guy Santorum is riseing in the poles in Iowa then it confirms my thinking that the midwest states are so backward that they need a good kick in the ass to get them out of the 50s and get in the real world !

    December 28, 2011 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  21. joey

    romney on top of gingrich, that visual is disturbing

    December 28, 2011 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  22. dan99

    The candidate that makes a big issue of stopping illegal aliens and getting rid of the ones already here
    will this election. In every poll taken about illegal immigration, at least 80% of the people polled want it
    stopped and want the illegals out of our schools and hospitals and job market. Politicians need to pay
    attention to that and stop listening to special interest groups that are anti-American.

    December 28, 2011 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  23. nuclearoption

    Did Michele Bachmann's wife get any votes?

    December 28, 2011 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  24. Ace

    Mr Santorum since when did bigotry become a moral famliy value!

    December 28, 2011 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  25. yo

    No is going to vote for a moron. I mean mormon. sorry

    December 28, 2011 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
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