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. Descarado

    Anyone and anything would be an improvement over Obama.

    December 28, 2011 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  2. Bored

    Getting really bored with the whole Romney vs Ron Paul vs This-Week's-Not-Romney Republican campaign. Seriously, Ron Paul has been all but ignored up until recently and the idea there has to be a Not-Romney is pathetic ("Not-Romney" read as "not a Mormon"). And seriously, why is Huntsman, the least insane candidate, the one with no support?

    December 28, 2011 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  3. Truth1

    Everyo0ne is down on Obama, but the man frankly has done a nice job. He inherited a mess from Bush and everyone knows it if they were to tell the truth. He avoided a great depression, he got bin laden (which Bush claimed he was doing..only not). He got us out of Iran, sure they may have a civil war, but your son nor mine is not over there dying. I mean how long are we supposed to stay anyway..one, two hundered years?? Or til a whole generation of our children are killed by people that will never like us? Next, he's turning the economy around, he brought decency back into the white house and policy to benefit middle Americans. I could go on, but if you are honest, the guys done pretty good job and I am a Republican. I'd rather see Obama then the clowns are party are running. Maybe people should stop listening to Fox news telling a bunch of lies and start tunning in elsewhere.

    December 28, 2011 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  4. Flower of the Dusk

    Nice headline. Where is Ron Paul's picture when he is doing VERY well in the polls. Nice job CNN...

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

    I saw Bachman interviewed earlier and this delusional woman still thinks she has a shot. The problem with most of them is none of them represent the majority of Americans, Santorum and Bachman cater to the Evangelical lunatics, Gingrich and Romney one is a Mormon and the other a untruthful womanizer.

    December 28, 2011 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  6. Alice58

    Can we go ahead and bring up the next GOP flash in the pan so Romney can get the nomination? I'm tired of the anybody but Romney conservatives. They are nothing but a bunch of whiney babies who are going to give Obama 4 more years.

    December 28, 2011 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  7. roadwarrior

    a vote for obama and the democrates is a vote towards the destuction of the american way of life the first and final mistake everyone makes is to believe anything the media says

    December 28, 2011 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  8. dave

    Let's go ron paul 2012!

    December 28, 2011 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  9. conoclast

    What's the difference between a Santorum and a Huckabee? One chooses being born again over growing up; the other is a pretty good bass player. Last time around sophisticated republican Iowans went with the bass player, it should be noted.

    December 28, 2011 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  10. Josie Scott

    Ron Paul might be ignored by the Jewish media, but he wont be ignored by the people

    December 28, 2011 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  11. Jason

    CNN – Not that I am saying anything that dozen's of other haven't already, but how in good faith can you run a headline about Iowa and include Nunber 1, 3 and 4 along with their pictures? I realize your coverage has been thus from the beginning, but what will it take for you to be unbiased?

    December 28, 2011 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  12. BlogMagog

    any of them are better than the current Imposter and Chief.

    December 28, 2011 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  13. Poor T-Paw ...

    He must feel like a fool for dropping out so soon. He could have had his 10 days of glory like all the others!

    December 28, 2011 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  14. Bored

    After re-reading my comment I answered my own question: Huntsman can't be the Not-Romney candidate because he happens to be Mormon. Dang, sane and Mormon. He has no chance of ever being a serious contender in the GOP.

    December 28, 2011 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  15. anagram_kid

    Bob Bofelli wrote – The news media wants to destroy Newt because they know he could beat Obama in a debate.
    This gets my vote for most absurd post of the day. Congrats, you beat out Truth and Nothing But the Truth and Four and the Door and let me tell you they have some funny posts! Newt needs no assistance in destruction; as those who know him have been saying for years, Newt's greatest enemy is Newt.

    December 28, 2011 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  16. open400

    Romney just says what the audience in front of him wants to hear. Romney never heard of Google; which means you can go back through all of his flip flops for the last 30 years. How could a guy like that lead the country? It would be disastrous to have such a flip flopper in front of this dysfunctional Congress or in front of world leaders in this fragile international order. A leader takes a position based on principals and finds a way to establish a policy based on that position.

    December 28, 2011 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  17. Glenn Doty

    Look, I don't have a dog in this hunt... because I'm voting for Obama unless the world turns upside down and Obama starts behaving like a republican...

    But it is EXTREMELY disconcerting that you left Ron Paul – the likely winner of the Iowa caucus – out of both the headlines and the picture. That's an insane level of propaganda/manipulation from a supposedly neutral source, and it should cause quite a stir, but it's more or less expected now.

    This should be embarrassing for CNN. The fact that it hasn't resulted in someone being flat-out fired is pathetic. I keep saying I will seek my news from a different website, though CNN has by far the best organized and most easily navigable website among the news sites... But eventually enough crap like this may force my hand once the real election cycle gets underway.

    December 28, 2011 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  18. blackpower

    all this to take away a black man's job? good god

    December 28, 2011 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  19. Aaron H.

    Santorum is a consistent and dependable conservative who has fought and won on issues important to conservatives. He has also won elections in the highly democratic state of Pennsylvania. Iowans are coming home to Santorum because of his proven leadership experience and his performance in important battles: life, social security, healthcare. Remember on all these issues how he was able to bring in democratic support.

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

    Among other reasons, I will vote for Ron Paul exactly because of the way he is being treated by the mainstream media. It's almost like they're trying to be obvious in the way they're attempting to deceive and obfuscate reality.

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

    Santorum is just too frothy for my tastes.

    December 28, 2011 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  22. nooneknows

    hmmm, can't say f r o t h y in the same sentence with Rick Santorum or you get moderated? Too funny.

    December 28, 2011 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  23. nooneknows

    ok, is everything moderated or just if you use the wacky definition of Santorum?

    December 28, 2011 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  24. Not the editor

    Who edits these stories prior to publish on the website? Can CNN hire a high school english teacher and let them at least take a look at them and correct puncuation and sentence structure?

    December 28, 2011 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  25. Joel

    They are all buffoons.

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