August 13th, 2010
12:02 PM ET
12 years ago

CNN Poll: Who's on top in hunt for 2012 GOP nomination?


Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul (left to right) top a list of potential 2012 GOP contenders, according to a new CNN poll.(PHOTO CREDITS: Getty Images)

Manchester, New Hampshire (CNN) - Less than three months before the unofficial start of the next race for the White House, a new national poll suggests there is no frontrunner for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

But a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday also indicates that the eventual GOP nominee would have the edge over President Barack Obama if the election were held today.

According to the poll, when asked to choose among a list of nine potential GOP White House hopefuls, 21 percent of Republicans support former Massachusetts Gov. and 2008 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for their party's 2012 nomination, with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at 18 percent. Romney's three point advantage over the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee is within the survey's sampling error.

The poll indicates that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is in third place at 15 percent, one point ahead of former Arkansas Gov. and 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Rep. Ron Paul, who also made a bid for his party's nomination last time around, is at ten percent, with Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana at three percent and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania at two percent.

"More than half of all Republicans we questioned consider themselves Tea Party supporters or active members of the Tea Party movement," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Romney tops the list among Tea Party Republicans; Gingrich is next on that list and Palin is in third."

The survey's release comes as Gingrich speaks Friday at the Iowa State Fair, a tradition for presidential hopefuls. Pawlenty stopped by the fair on Thursday. And the poll's release comes one day after Romney headlined a fundraiser for New Hampshire Republicans, his second in the state in the past week.

Of all the possible contenders for the next GOP presidential nomination, Romney appears to have the strongest organization at the moment. According to a spokesman, his political action committee has endorsed over 150 Republican candidates and contributed more than $400,000 to conservative candidates and causes this cycle.

For Democrats, the poll indicates the choice is much clearer, with nearly three-quarters of them saying they would re-nominate Obama if he runs again. Only 57 percent of Democrats said the same thing about President Bill Clinton in 1994, half way through his first term in office.

But according to the survey, if the presidential election were held today, an unnamed Republican candidate would have a 50 to 45 percent advantage over Obama among registered voters.

"That's far from a prediction of an Obama loss in 2012. Bill Clinton faced a 15-point deficit on this question in 1994 and went on to win re-election two years later; the elder George Bush had a 19-point edge the year before the 1992 election and lost," adds Holland.

The poll indicates the standard partisan differences, but among independent voters, Obama trails the GOP candidate by 13 points. The president has a nine point advantage among women voters, with the Republican ahead by 19 points among men. Obama has a 24 point advantage among urban voters, with an eight point deficit among suburban voters and trails by 12 points among rural voters.

Eight in ten people who say they are members or supporters of the Tea Party movement would vote for the Republican candidate over Obama, with six in ten of all Americans who don't support the Tea Party movement saying they would pick Obama.

"The demographics of the Tea Party movement explain that gap," says Holland. "Nearly four in ten white men say they are members or supporters of the Tea Party, compared to 26 percent of white women and 15 percent of non-whites."

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted August 6-10, with 1,009 adult Americans, including 494 Republicans and 458 Democrats, questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

Full results (pdf)

Filed under: 2012 • CNN Polls • GOP • President Obama
soundoff (94 Responses)
  1. anthony

    Romney does not have a chance. He is doing his best to appeal to the base of his party, but the base will never accept him. He is too liberal for them and the fact that he enacted the Massachusetts health care plan, which is the model for the Obama health care plan, will certainly hurt him, even though the Heritage Foundation, a Republican think tank, came up with the proposal that led to the Massachusetts plan. His party is moving so far to the right that they are now in the Atlantic Ocean.

    August 13, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  2. Ben

    I will vote Ron Paul this go around. He has been proven right concerning the war in Iraq, nation building in Afghanistan, and of course the impending economic debacle and why it all transpired.

    August 13, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  3. Reality Speaks

    If this is all the GOP has to offer, there will be another landslide victory by President Obama..

    Palin is a wacko and a national punchline.. Tina Fey won an Emmy with comedic portrayals of her.

    Romney is an out of touch with the common man, loser (of the GOP nomination) who most people wont relate to..

    Obama won by almost 200 electoral votes, and they will have to flip all the battleground states to even have a shot.. there is no way they are going to flip all of them..

    So much for polls.. Some polls had McCain winning by 5% a week before the election... How did that turn out?

    Their best shot is probably Gov McDonnell of VA maybe running with Gen McChrystal or Pawlenty..

    They already ran Charlie Crist off.. and Mark Sanford tango'd his way out of contention..

    If the right has their way, and can get their candidate in, or force him to give in to their ideas the way McCain did.. there will be another Obama landslide..

    August 13, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  4. ex-repulican since McCain picked Palin

    That is way off in 2012 and most of the hate and division will be a thing of the past. I would be alittle worried if Mitt went against Obama, just alittle. Palin, frightning, funny, a horrible thought and would definitely provide a big win for President Obama. He keeps accomplishing more and more and keeping more and more of his promises. He will be a two term President for sure. FOR SURE. The American people are to smart when it comes down to vote for Palin to really vote for her. 'C'mon, and who are they polling?

    August 13, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  5. Dan

    Sarah, will be elected prez in 2012. She will undo everything obama has done to us. All the leftist Saul alinsky stuff, the left is doing to marginalize Sarah hasn't worked. she is reagan, the liberals hate her but the people love her. She is genuine and unafraid.

    August 13, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  6. malabar

    Any1 but Obama 2012. christie 2016

    August 13, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  7. Nelson, Colorado Springs Co

    I don't know who did this poll or what they were smoking but they are wrong, We America have short memory of things pass. we want things done now or yesterday. who is this 666 person? A poll it a poll like a fish is a fish???????

    August 13, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  8. Dave

    Romney is the most qualified of the Republican contenders. He has both business and government experience, and a record of turning bad situations into good ones. And, by the way, his health care reform in MA was based on the private sector, not bigger government like Obama.

    August 13, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  9. Rick McDaniel

    Not those who ran before.

    August 13, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  10. Dan

    Ron Paul is the only real conservative running, and his own party wants nothing to do with him. However, the GOP fails to realize that Paul is bringing in the college kids in droves, and that he is the only Republican the anti-war left, disaffected Obama voters, libertarians, constitutionalists, and Independents would even consider voting for. If Romney or Palin are nominated, most of those votes go towards four more years of Obama. When PPP did a poll recently, they found that Independents preferred Paul (46%) over President Obama (28%) in a 2012 General Election match up. This is very telling, as Independents are now the majority.

    If Paul were nominated by the GOP and got an opportunity to explain to all Americans what his platform truly was, he would crush Obama in the debates and win in all 50 states. He represents real change, and what you see is what you get. Everyone else is arguing over how to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. It's time the American people stopped voting based on political parties and voted for Ron Paul the person, who has always been consistent in how he votes, regardless of how his party is voting.

    I can't wait till the debates. Fox and the other mainstream media channels cannot possibly be rude and ignore him like they did last time, can they? The other candidates will probably sound a lot more like him and give him far more respect. This time around, Paul will be at 10%-15% in the polls, with a $10 million dollars before the first debates start. All eyes will be on the man that warned us all along, and I have a feeling a lot of people will be listening more carefully to what Ron Paul has to say about his transition plan to get this country off its' addiction to credit.

    The tipping point is when everyone starts saying "I always liked that guy and he CAN win". The unfortunate thing is that the closer Paul gets to the White House, the more likely he gets JFK'ed. The people that are benefiting financially from the status quo (and who own the politicians in both parties) own the mainstream media, and keep trying to deflect our attention from the real issues. Ron Paul terrifies these people, and annoys members of both major political parties. That's got to mean something.

    August 13, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  11. mark

    To all the Bush haters just a little reminder. Every and I do mean every bill Bush signed into law was passed by a Nancy Pelosi controlled house and a Harry Reid Senate before it ever even reached the presidents desk.

    Think about that before you decide who you want to support.

    August 13, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  12. Gil

    It just shows how poorly educated the American public is and their minds set is so far right it needs to think once rather than just vote for the zombie republican candidate.

    August 13, 2010 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  13. jonah

    My Dream Teams: GOP Huckabee and Condeleeza Rice
    DEM H.Clinton and M. Kennedy

    I think any of those people would make great leaders.

    August 13, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  14. dot in Texas

    GOP I have your 2012 team PERRY-PALIN !!!! both are so OUT OF TOUCH, its has a ring dumb and dummerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!! The cowboy and mama grizzly OMG LOL!!!!!!!!!

    August 13, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  15. ex-repulican since McCain picked Palin

    Roi is wrong, no doubt! No doubt it will be President Obama again. Fantastic

    August 13, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  16. GREG-AZ

    Romney, Palin, Gingrinch, or Huckabee?? Well of those 4 Huckabess has the BEST chance against Obama...the other three will see almost certain defeat in the general election in 2012 for obvious reasons that I won't even state. The 2012 election is going to be interesting if any of those candidates end up being the GOPs nominee Obama running as good of a campaign as he did in 2008 will earn him another 4 years in the whitehouse which is EXACTLY what this country needs!

    OBAMA 2012!!

    August 13, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  17. anagram_kid

    I cannot foresee any of the current crop of GOP candidates winning against President Obama in 2012. The economy will continue to improve and all the right will have left to complain about is the social issues that do not and will never matter to centrists. America is moving forward with or without those who cannot accept it.

    August 13, 2010 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  18. beowulf2

    I Like Gingrich. He has the ideas we need to back out of this trench and move forward into the future with confidence, not trepidation of what may lie ahead with the secular socialism of the left.

    August 13, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  19. Four and The Door

    Gary, Hunt Valley, Md. August 13th, 2010 12:21 pm ET

    When a stiff, vanilla, blow-dryed type such as Romney tops the list, the train is headed off the track
    You do know that the position we will be asked to vote for is someone to manage the United States Federal Government including the military and some other stuff. I'm just not making the connection based on your criteria. I would expect things like economics, government philosophy and management experience should be considered as well as how their hair looks and the color of their skin.

    August 13, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  20. Gino

    Looks like Bar Barr might actually have a fighting chance in 2012.

    August 13, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  21. bernice

    All you dumbies that are saying bad things about O'Bama is because you're not intelligent enough to know the good things he has done for our country...EDUCATE YOURSELF & stop sounding so ignorant

    August 13, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  22. George

    What a pathetic nation we have become, most everyone thinking that they are entitled to some type handout from the government. That is the first thing that is wrong with us. I am nauseated at the comments made here as if all Democrats are smarter than any Republican or vice versa. That has got to stop or no one will be successful. I would not vote before voting for Palin, because I don't see her as a leader. That doesn't make her stupid or a lunatic. However, Obama can't see the forest for all the trees. I don't agree with his policies or politics. I feel that they are bad for America. Work hard, pray hard and live right.

    August 13, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  23. larry

    the 2012 election is over 2 years away so this poll is meaningless.

    August 13, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  24. mike

    Yeah lets vote another republican racist in office that will suck up to the wealthy at the american voters expense and then we can fight with each
    other on who should live here it is always good to put a tea bagger in office who has no solution to any of the problems because if they did they be yelling to every voter out there but lets do the smart thing we will wait just before the election and say we have an answer to the economic problems and before anybody can see if there solution holds water we will vote them in office

    August 13, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  25. Me

    Right Wing posters have said:

    "President Obama has no chance of being reelected in 2012. The 2012 election will be the Republican Primaries"

    "Republicans can nominate anyone and it will be better than Obama."

    "Charles Manson would have the edge over Obama if the election were held today"

    If you believe this, you have clearly underestimated how bad the Republicans did while they were in power. We have not forgotten how GOP policy has failed this country.
    As much as Republican elected officials LIE and try to control the perception of the policy that is being passed now, it's STILL better than the GOP alternative.

    August 13, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
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