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.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

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. alin

    To bad the show "Lie to Me" got canceled. all the candidates in the above pic would have made a good episode depicting their LIES hahaha Vote Ron Paul

    December 28, 2011 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  2. once upon a horse

    Rick Perry has jumped on the Rick Santorum bandwagon for abortion so if one of your loved ones happens to be the victim of a violent attack and becomes pregnant due to it...she MUST carry that child to full term. Of course after the 9 month nightmare she can put the child up for adoption but that is what the far right GOP is all about. I just wonder if that happened to one of their loved ones though if they would force her to do the same thing?

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

    That's interesting, because the new PPP survey released yesterday, shows Ron Paul on top with 24% and Romney at 20%.

    December 28, 2011 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  4. DanW

    Oh Please let Santorum win! Pretty soon the Republicans will be calling on me to run!

    December 28, 2011 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  5. bette

    CNN Poll: Romney on top, Gingrich fading & Santorum rising in Iowa .... Ha! No mention of Ron Paul In The Headline, And The Headline Image Doesn't have him in it either... This is why CNN continues to loose market share to blogs and small online news outlets. You know them.. They are the ones who just tell the truth as it is rather than twist it to meet their own political desires.

    EXACTLY!!!!

    December 28, 2011 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  6. Kevin

    Dear CNN,

    Do you have something against Ron Paul? Really?? The whole hush and push under the rug of any news worthy of Dr. Paul speak volumes of how scared you guys are really of him.

    December 28, 2011 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  7. markiejoe

    Seeing as how John Huntsman is the only sensible GOP candidate, it makes perfect sense that he's at 1% in Iowa.

    December 28, 2011 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  8. Doc Magnus

    What a joke – you couldn't mash all these "candidates" together and produce one statesman or stateswoman. Huntsman comes closest and the GOP nosedivers aka "the base" are doing their level best to send him packing. These empty suits and a dress should all travel the primary states in the same little clown car – with Her Man Cain running along behind like a keystone cop. Now THAT"S something I'd watch!

    December 28, 2011 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  9. sameeker

    I saw a poll today that had Ron Paul on top. I am a democrat but I think the corporate owned media is giving that guy the shaft.

    December 28, 2011 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  10. Greg

    WHY are people so wrapped up in the Republican party.... It is so very clear that Mitt Romney is the only viable candidate to run in the general election. He will be chosen in the end no matter what. Stop spending energy focusing on Newt, Bachmann, Palin, that 9-9-9 guy ... and all the other people that are just not going to make it.

    December 28, 2011 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  11. Mo

    II wonder what Mr. Cain thinks about all of this candidate-go-round sillyness? The RepubliCants are just a joke now-a-days.....

    December 28, 2011 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  12. sundance147

    Dont forget Herman Cain is on the ballot in Iowa!!

    December 28, 2011 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  13. CHE

    Mitt Romney is a TIMID and coward.
    Fat ASS Newt. Gingrich challenged him to a parking lot fight days ago and timid, coward Mitt Romney didn't show up. He’s nowhere to be found the last time I checked. Instead, the word on the street is that; coward Mitt is hiding under his mother's skirt with his tail between his legs scared like a rat as we have known him to be.
    This is a fight we all wish to see. Folks should you lay eyes on coward Mitt; tell him Newt. is looking for punk ass to chew. Old man, Ron Paul doesn’t back off from a fight?

    December 28, 2011 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  14. SaintM

    These republicans can continue to run over each other and knock each other out, but when push comes to shove, Obama's poll numbers are better when compared to any of the republican candidates running. Obama will pull off a Secretariat style win in Nov. 2012.

    President Obama 2.0, because intelligence stumps ignorance/stupidity every time.

    December 28, 2011 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  15. brothaa

    you guys want to maybe not forget to mention and put a picture of one of the top candidates Ron Paul.

    it seems odd he just seems disappeared.

    December 28, 2011 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  16. vote for OWS 2012 and beyond!

    Romney has the backing of banksters, hedgefunds, and insurance companies. Of course he'll always be on top in these polls. I honestly hope he becomes the republican candidate so he can explain all those political "flipp flopps" during debates. I also can't wait to hear more about his true business experience in buying and breaking up companies for his own personal gain. Not to mention his outsourcing of jobs to third world labor countries.

    OWS 99% for congress 2016!!!!
    OWS 99% for congress 2016!!!
    OWS 99% for congress 2015!!!

    December 28, 2011 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  17. Bubba

    No electoral votes are assigned by the Iowa straw poll so why all the media buzz? Because it's simply that media buzz put out here for the gratificatiobn of people who live and die by polls

    December 28, 2011 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  18. roadwarrior

    down with socialist in charge give us back the great country we once had

    December 28, 2011 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  19. Craig

    Ron Paul = Nut
    Ron Paul Supporters = Nut Jobs

    Congrats, you people took the crown from the Obama supporters.

    December 28, 2011 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  20. Ron Paul 2012

    No Ron Paul again ?
    CNN is so corrupted.

    December 28, 2011 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  21. Doug

    Honestly, the media COMPLETELY ignored everything about Obama (except slogans) and look what we've got.
    An economy that is in the crapper and we're no better off in terms of foreign relations after his grovelling at the feet of foreign leaders. Every Republican has been dissected and scanned under a SEM and the idiots above have the gall to say that all Republican candidates are so flawed they gasp at the thought of a Republican President. Well get used to it because if Americans have one bit of honesty, courage and intelligence they'll throw Obama and Biden (a bigger boob than any VP in history) out on the streets where they actually belong. Obama can go back to organizing the 'Occupy Movement' crowd and Biden can BS with his union thugs. Good luck.

    December 28, 2011 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  22. Patricksday

    Where is Ron Paul, he is set to take Iowa. I hope this gives Newt a flat tire in his attempt to lead American Corporations.

    December 28, 2011 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  23. grizzly

    Not one of all the GOP candidates is the least qualified to be president of the United States. We are once again confronted with a goupd of loosers, liars and tiefs and teh public is supposed make a choice. There is no hope for this country. Lets face it teh rest of teh world has lo0ng recognized it it is only the Americans who have not realized it.

    December 28, 2011 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  24. Isaac

    can't wait for Ron Paul to win this!!

    December 28, 2011 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  25. Name Rich

    Won't matter what happens in Iowa.

    December 28, 2011 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10