Poll suggests Romney on top in Iowa if he runs again
August 27th, 2014
02:23 PM ET
3 months ago

Poll suggests Romney on top in Iowa if he runs again

(CNN) - He keeps saying no to third run for the White House, but another new poll – this time in Iowa – indicates Mitt Romney would be the front runner for the Republican presidential nomination if he changes his mind.

A USA Today/Suffolk University survey of Iowa voters released Wednesday should add to the feeding frenzy over a possible 2016 presidential bid by the 2012 GOP nominee. While the former Massachusetts governor's repeatedly said he's not running again, the attention such speculation captures is a sign of the wide open nature right now of the upcoming Republican nomination race.

According to the new poll, if Romney was added to the list of potential 2016 GOP White House contenders, 35% of Iowa Republicans say he'd be their first choice in the Iowa caucuses, which kick off the presidential primary and caucus calendar.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won the 2008 Iowa Republican caucuses and is considering another bid in 2016, is a distant second, at 9%. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who narrowly won the 2012 caucuses, are each at 6%. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Texas Gov. Rick Perry are each at 5%, with the remaining potential candidates tested were all in the lower single digits.

Take Romney out of the equation, and the poll indicates Huckabee – at 13% is on top of the crowded list of potential candidates. He's followed by Christie at 11%, Perry at 9% Paul at 7%, Santorum and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee, each at 6% and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida at 5%. The remaining potential candidates tested were all in the lower single digits.

The poll's 2016 GOP nomination results not only reflect the wide open race among the Republicans but are most likely also a reflection of name recognition.

"Think about it – we're still closer to the last presidential election than the next one. So until some of these other potential candidates have more time to really begin campaigning in earnest, I think Romney will continue to be top of mind for a lot of average voters," longtime South Carolina GOP consultant Joel Sawyer, senior VP of the Republican digital firm Push Digital, recently told CNN.

Romney keeps saying no

The poll's release comes one day after Romney said in a radio interview that "someone else stands a better chance of winning than I do."

"Had that not been the case," Romney told radio host Hugh Hewitt, "then I would be running."

Romney keeps 2016 talk alive with "Dumb and Dumber" scenario

Romney's been very clear on the subject of 2016.

"The answer is no, I'm not running for president in 2016. It's time for someone else to take that responsibility and I'll be supporting our nominee," he told anchor Wolf Blitzer in February on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer"

He's been using the same "I'm not running" language over and over again. And Romney's wife, Ann, has also been adamant against another run.

Romney tops the field in New Hampshire

Regardless, pollsters are asking about Romney. Two public opinion surveys conducted this summer in New Hampshire – WMUR/Granite State and Suffolk University/Boston Herald – indicated that Romney would be the overwhelming front runner in the first-in-the-nation primary state if he decided to run again.

The first poll to spark the Romney 2016 flames was an ABC News/Washington Post national survey released last November that suggested that if the 2012 presidential election between Romney and President Braack Obama were held today, Romney would hold a slight lead in the popular vote. Obama won the popular vote in the 2012 contest by a 51%-47% margin.

The flames were further fanned earlier this summer when by a 45%-38% margin, voters nationwide questioned in Quinnipiac University poll said that the country would be better off if Romney rather than Obama had won the 2012 election. And a CNN/ORC International survey conducted last month indicated Romney topping the President 53%-44% in the popular vote if the 2012 election were somehow held again.

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GOP strategist Kevin Madden, who served as a senior adviser in Romney's 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, recently told CNN that "the interest in Romney is driven by those who believe, very deeply, that he would have been a very effective president and that he has been proven right on so many issues and ideas that he advanced in the 2012 campaign."

"But conceptual candidacies are very enticing, almost irresistible. Actual candidacies are cold, hard realities. There's a universe of differences between the two," added Madden, a CNN contributor.

That CNN/ORC poll backs up Madden's point. The survey suggested Romney losing to Hillary Clinton by a 55%-42% margin in a hypothetical 2016 matchup.

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The USA Today/Suffolk University poll was conducted August 23-26, with 500 likely 2014 voters in Iowa questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

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Filed under: 2016 • Mitt Romney
soundoff (111 Responses)
  1. Lynda/Minnesota

    Yep. That Mr. Mittens momentum is still going ... and going ... and going.

    August 27, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    Republican cannot possibly want Romney to run again. Mitt Romney will never run for public office ever again, especially for POTUS. Romney is afraid of two little words, "tax returns."

    Mitt's not stupid. If he gets the GOTP nomination again, then he will be under pressure to not only produce more tax returns, but also producing everything since the last time he ran in 2012. The return that he did release seemed to defer several deductions into the future. Mitt could have paid a lot less than what the numbers showed. People will rightfully want to see the return from the next year, just to see if Harry Reid was correct in saying Romney is one of those elite who paid almost nothing in taxes compared to their incomes.

    With that in mind, Mitt Romney can go out on the campaign trails and say almost anything he wants, and not be held accountable for any of it. He'll never run again. Mitt can sound like a moderate, drowning the noise of the far right wing. Sure, the base will hate what he might say, but they know deep down that their candidate doesn't feel that way. Romney is going to be the Republican Party's Trojan Horse, folks.

    August 27, 2014 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  3. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    The worst campaign for President in US history. This guy is not qualified and the American people showed him that on Nov 5 2012. Can't wait to see the GOP stuff Jeb Bush down the tea potty's throats EXACTLY like they stuffed Romney down. Straight no chaser. Hillary will drink to that!

    August 27, 2014 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  4. jv

    Romney day dream will never come true.

    August 27, 2014 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  5. Pandamonius

    He can run all he wants, but until the GOtP wakes up and realizes that they need to quit scaring off the moderates and independents, they aren't going to take the white house.

    August 27, 2014 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  6. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    Please run Willard!!! You run the country from your fake Oval office.

    August 27, 2014 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  7. Nacho Man

    These polls don't matter and I don't know why organizations even conduct them. Remember in 2011 when Donald Trump was the frontrunner?

    August 27, 2014 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  8. blake

    Wake up GOP. Romney is not a consistent conservative. Plus he already lost to an extremely weak Democrat candidate.

    August 27, 2014 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  9. DRAKE MALLARD

    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

    "The blind trust is an age old ruse, if you will, which is to
    say, you can always tell a blind trust what it can and can not do. You
    give a blind trust rules"

    August 27, 2014 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  10. strangerq@aol.com

    That CNN/ORC poll backs up Madden's point. The survey suggested Romney losing to Hillary Clinton by a 55%-42% margin in a hypothetical 2016 matchup.

    ^ So yeah, run this guy.

    August 27, 2014 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  11. Rev

    pppth the only reason America would be better off today if Romney had been elected instead of Obama is because the GOP house would have released their hostage to their man Romney. Apparently that's what the House expects Americans to do, capitulate to their demands or suffer, and unbelievably they may very well get away with it.

    August 27, 2014 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  12. Sam the Man

    Whiskey tango foxtrot, like rMoney is going to be anymore in touch the third time around.

    August 27, 2014 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  13. slguy

    I say if the poll where really held today, Mittens will still loose to Obama. Even though the CNN polls says otherwise :)

    August 27, 2014 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  14. Rosslaw

    Funny! Republicans have no idea how to run polls or even count for that matter. Rick Santorum eventually was declared the winner in the 2012 republican Iowa primary but only after Romney had been declared the winner weeks earlier and got the boost from that "win". Every Mittens staffer was convinced on election day 2012 that their candidate had won based on their own polls which weren't worth a bucket of warn spit. Karl Rove had his melt down on Fox News election night claiming that the returns had not come in from our 51st state, the twilight zone or some other location only Karl knew about. And more recently Eric Cantor thought he was ahead in his race by 30+ points until he learned that he wasn't. And these clowns are going to protect us from "voter fraud"!

    August 27, 2014 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  15. Rudy NYC

    Pandamonius

    He can run all he wants, but until the GOtP wakes up and realizes that they need to quit scaring off the moderates and independents, they aren't going to take the white house.
    -----------------------------
    PREDICTION:
    Mitt Romney will be the bright shiny, moderate talking object that they want your moderates and independents to listen to, instead of listening to the right wing extremists that are actually running for office. Just wait and see. You watch.

    August 27, 2014 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  16. Dar

    Quite a list the republicans got going there. NOT!!!

    Of course there's the democrats list..................Another NOT!!

    (Hummmm, if only Superman or Superwoman would show up to help us all.)

    Oh Well, Let the best liar win!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 27, 2014 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  17. gravis

    Wow, the Mittster is the best the GOP can come up with after all this time? Maybe they should've been trying to find a reasonable candidate instead of screaming about Obama and blocking everything he's tried to do.

    August 27, 2014 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  18. Lynda/Minnesota

    "He's been using the same "I'm not running" language over and over again. And Romney's wife, Ann, has also been adamant against another run."

    Ah ... but will there been an Etch-A-Sketch follow up as the months progress?

    August 27, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  19. laragabriella

    In 2016 following the two terms of the worst president in US history, anything is possible.

    August 27, 2014 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  20. laragabriella

    Come 2016 following the two terms of the worst president in US history, anything is possible.

    August 27, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  21. Swedge70

    What this indicates primarily is the sad state of affairs that is today's GOP.

    August 27, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  22. Ol' Yeller

    Well, I remember another poll which 'suggested' romney would easily win the Presidency last time... in fact, I think there are still some republicants glued to their faux news wating for rove to declare him the winner.
    Rubes.... you gotta love 'em (or hit 'em with a shovel and bury them in a shallow grave).

    August 27, 2014 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  23. foundstar

    ...Real obvious....They got no one else...He's the least idiot of the pack and still a 2 time loser....

    August 27, 2014 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  24. scott

    in 2012 the iowa republicans gave the caucus to michelle bachmann, am i worried, no way

    August 27, 2014 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  25. Reasonable

    Romney should run. Make that a "MUST". The GOP deserves a candidate like him, just as much as he does them. One skims off the top while the other shafts the "have nots". What could be better? Oh, unless you throw in Palin for Veep, preferably wrapped in mooseleather. That wil make for an entertaining campaign!

    August 27, 2014 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
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