CNN Poll: Republicans want winner over ideology in 2012
February 8th, 2011
08:35 AM ET
12 years ago

CNN Poll: Republicans want winner over ideology in 2012

Washington (CNN) - Given the choice between a candidate who agrees with them on the issues or a candidate who can defeat President Barack Obama in 2012, a new national poll indicates Republicans overwhelming want a winner.

According to CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday, nearly seven out of ten Republicans say they would prefer a GOP presidential nominee who can top Obama in the next election, with 29 percent saying a nominee who agrees with them on every issue that matters the most is more important.

Full results (pdf)

"Republicans are divided on their choice for the GOP nominee in 2012, but they are united in their desire to see Obama ousted from the White House," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

The survey indicates that the race for the Republican nomination is still wide open, with Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Mitt Romney all clustered at the top of the pack. Twenty-one percent of Republicans and independents who lean Republican say if Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and 2008 GOP presidential candidate, decides to run for the White House, they would be likely to support him for their party's presidential nomination, followed by Palin, the former Alaska governor & 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, at 19 percent, and Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and 2008 Republican presidential contender, at 18 percent.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, at ten percent, is the only other Republican tested who gets double-digit support. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who made a bid for the last GOP presidential nomination, came in at seven percent, with the remaining potential candidates named in the poll all in the low single digits. CNN's poll numbers are in-line with most other national GOP 2012 horse race surveys.

It's worth remembering that polls taken a year before the first votes will be cast are mostly a matter of name recognition.

"Keep in mind that Joe Lieberman and Rudy Giuliani - both relatively famous when they decided to run for president - were ahead in polls conducted in 2003 and 2007," says Holland. "Neither man won a single primary or caucus once the voting started."

The poll indicates that potential candidates like Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour are virtual unkowns to at least six in ten Republicans.

"If that changes for any one of them, they are likely to rise in the horse race question," adds Holland.

So who do Republican think will win their party's presidential nomination? Romney and Palin top that list, but only a quarter of Republicans pick either one as the most likely nominee in 2012.

According to the poll, four out of five Democrats would like to see their party re-nominate Obama for president in 2012, up five points from early November. One in five say they would prefer another Democrat as their party's presidential nominee.

And what about the general election?

The survey indicates that roughly a quarter of all Americans would definitely vote for Obama, a little more than a third say they would definitely vote against him. That leaves approximately four in ten swing voters in the middle - 23 percent who would probably vote for Obama right now, 16 percent who would probably vote against him - but most of whom would be considered "persuadable" by political pros.

Will Obama win? Fifty-one percent of the public says no, with 46 percent predicting he will claim victory in November of 2012.

Iowa and New Hampshire traditionally kick off the presidential primary calendar, but the poll indicates that only 37 percent of all Americans would like to see those two states always come first in the nomination process, with 56 percent saying they would rather see other states go first in the race for the White House.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted January 21-23, with 1,012 adult Americans questioned by phone, including 479 Republicans and independents who lean Republican, and 441 Democrats and independents who lean Democratic. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

Check out CNN's new Polling Center, which provides the most comprehensive polling data covering national questions and the top 2010 election races of any news organization in the political landscape.

Filed under: 2012 • GOP • Polls
soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. Robert

    ", with 29 percent saying a nominee who agrees with them on every issue that matters the most is more important."

    What is wrong with this 29% of people? There are multiple sides on every issue. Do these people seriously think other human beings think exactly the same as they do? Do these people think a political party is a robot army of like-minded zombies? This is a disgrace! Anything above 0% on this indicator is a measure of the mass delusion of the voters.

    February 8, 2011 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  2. John

    Not one of these clowns will beat Obama in 2012. Who is really going to debate him? Mitt Romney might be the best suited but OBAMA CARE IS MODELED AFTER ROMNEY'S MASS HEALTHCARE!!! So how is he going to attack that? Taxas are the lowest since the 1950's, Republicans talk about cuts but the problem is the only REAL BIG cuts you can make are the following: DEFENSE, MEDICADE AND MEDICARE and we know the Repugs cant touch those as the political fallout would be tremendous. The best thing the Repugs can do is wait until 2016 and bring in a younger well spoken candidate that's a Moderate. You will NEVER GET A FAR RIGHT OR LEFT WACKO in office again in this country. And that means you FAKE TEA PARTY!

    February 8, 2011 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  3. Max

    So the issues aren't the focus? Representation is overrated? Republicans would much rather win (read: hand Obama a loss) than elect an official who holds their beliefs? As disgustingly ignorant as that is, the other edge of the sword will be the effect on the moderate/independent voter like me who will watch whichever ultraconservative wins the Republican primary and promptly vote for Obama. I don't see a whole lot of even keels among the candidates so far, especially not in the ones leading the polls.

    February 8, 2011 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  4. Brian, NJ

    Reagan was at 35% approval rating and won re-election in a landslide. Obama is in a much better position at this time to win than lose.

    February 8, 2011 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  5. rusty155

    I don't who the brain of this poll Is, but Saran palin couldn't bet my dog If she ran. I use to be a Republican , now I'm a Independent. This happen shortly after John McCain pick Saran Palin as his running mate. In my opinion I think John McCain would be In the White House right now If It wasn't for Saran Palin. People that run the Republican party wants too run win In 2012 you better not have Saran Palin running against Obama or It will be the biggest one sided victory In history and Obama will Win AGAIN.

    February 8, 2011 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  6. MG

    Will Obama win? Fifty-one percent of the public says no, with 46 percent predicting he will claim victory in November of 2012. – This is great when this poll is based on 1500 people which represent the entire public-Give me a break!!! If huckabee or palin are nominated that is a good sign Obama will get re-elected. Palin can't beat him and no one wants a religious nut like Huckabee to tell us what we can or can't do with our lives that doesn't coincide with his warped vision of Jesus.

    February 8, 2011 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  7. Michael

    The GOP wants a winner over ideology huh? I guess that's why they have Palin, Romney, Santorum and Bachmann pictured at the top? lol what a joke. The GOP wouldn't know what a centrist was if one bit them.

    February 8, 2011 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  8. Madtown

    Sarah Palin's name keeps popping up in this country's media headlines for only 1 reason: our country's celebrity obession. She has nothing to offer the political process, she's not even currently a politician, she's a tv celebrity.

    She's essentially Snooki, with a few kids and better hair. They've both amassed their fortunes the same way, being paid to showcase their idiocy.

    February 8, 2011 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  9. GW

    Please, please let Sarah Palin run for President! As a life-long Democrat I sincerely hope she wins the Republican nomination. And she could pick someone like Backman or Paul as her running mate. The presidential debates would be incredible. I urge all Republicans to please vote for Palin. She would be a great candidate.

    February 8, 2011 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  10. EffortPA

    Poor Palin, not even McCain will support her bid to run.

    February 8, 2011 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  11. Superhiro

    Well at least the GOP has it's priorities straight. Winners over quitters. Good luck in 2012

    February 8, 2011 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
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