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. Coopm

    LOL And this is new? All politicians care about is winning office. They coluldn't give one crap about what's right or what's wrong or how to find workable solutions, it's all about winning the office. Forget about what's best for the American people.

    February 8, 2011 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  2. CHUCK

    Who cares what the GOP wants. I predict that President Obama when win the 2012 Presidental election if he wants to run. I think he is doing a fair job and if the GOP refuses to help the President make our lives better, then they should and will held responsible for their lack of action. No more political wars! Time to get to work.

    February 8, 2011 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  3. ReFascistican

    All of those fascists in the picture are idealogues. You have to be one in order to be accepted within the ReFascistican Party. However, none of them can beat the President.

    February 8, 2011 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  4. diridi

    none of these are worth talking.....o.k...worth spending our time....o.k..

    February 8, 2011 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  5. Anonymous

    If Republicans/Tea Party wants a winner in 2012, they should not run any of the people pictured above.

    February 8, 2011 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  6. Marcus

    I don't get it, all the GOPers leaderships says that Obama is inexperient, not doing a good job, is going to send the USA to the drain and all that we've been hearing since day one. But the GOPers voters would rater have a GOP candidate with whom they don't identify plenty 9or almost not at all) as long as he had any real chance to defeat Obama?
    Are the GOPers leaderships in touch with the majority of the GOP base?

    February 8, 2011 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  7. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The GOP search party is going to have to foray deeper into the woods to find their candidate.
    They have found goons, racists, dimwits, fruitcakes, loons, and wizards, but they haven't found someone that stands a chance of even making it through the primaries wihtout having their house of cards come tumbling down around them.
    Right now they have bubkes.

    February 8, 2011 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  8. T'sah from Virginia

    Wow – fuzzy numbers – and to think that in the previous Ticker Pawlenty said he will WIN THE PRESIDENCY in 2012 and he is not even in the "double digit" status as a favorite!!!

    Sarah Palin is up w/Romney? That shows you how much people THINK with their BRAINS!! Sarah is POPULAR and KNOWN therefore, she can be President. Oh PLEASE let Sarah be the nominee for 2012.............PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 8, 2011 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  9. Seattle Sue

    If Republicans/Tea Party want any chance of winning in 2012, they should not run any of the people pictured above as they are all losers.

    February 8, 2011 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  10. informed voter

    It is amazing to me that Republicans care more about winning control than getting this country back on its feet. When you look at the current crop of potential Republican candidates, there is not a winner among them. America continues to progress forward, with President Obama at the helm. The Dow is higher than it's ever been and we are adding jobs instead of bleeding them. The world respects us, again (notice there were no "Death to America" rants during Egypt's uprising). Obama will be almost impossible to beat if he continues to have the successes he has managed (even with the unprecedented opposition by the rabid right). President Obama is a winner!

    February 8, 2011 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  11. indi

    What a choice? You Republicans look for Quality and intelligence dont ya!!!!! All multi-millionaire idiots,nice family picture,where is limbach!!!!!!!

    February 8, 2011 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  12. detada

    A very uninteresting cast of GOP clowns.

    February 8, 2011 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  13. king

    who are you serious Palin is in the lead of repugs nomination for president. now i know the repug party have no clue of what it takes to be Potus. first of all you have to have world influence, that means the world have to like you, i dont see none of these fools posessing that other than maybe israel, they are in trouble. next you have to have a open mind to tackle situations. these conservatives have a one track mind of dealing with situations affecting americans: trickle down economics. third they have to have willingness to help the people without a voice in society, that will never happend because they feel that if they did this they would some how have to hurt big corporations. and forth manage the budget, that will never happen either, repugs are more concerned what going on abroad and willing to spend big money for to do so that means deregulating big corporations so they can do what they did and bring the world to their knees again and tax break for the already wealthy that takes their money out of the economy circulation and put over seas on the sidelines while leaving 90 percent of americans to fend for themselves.

    February 8, 2011 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  14. spike in conshohocken pa

    If you love Obama, vote Palin 2012!

    February 8, 2011 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  15. Dnick47

    Problem is that the Republicans do not have any one who is not already dispised by the American people because he/she is a raving true believer ideolouge.

    February 8, 2011 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  16. michael

    obama will win no question no matter who the republican

    February 8, 2011 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  17. GonzoinHouston

    Bad news, GOP. 7 in 10 may want a winner, but the TP's won't support anyone who has ever cast a vote that doesn't follow their dogma. The most active and vocal part of the party is a group that is absolutely uncompromising in their ideology, and will actively oppose even safe-seat incumbents of their own party.

    If the candidate cannot win the endorsement of Sarah Palin then the TP's will stay home on election day. Now, who can get her endorsement yet still attract the independent voter? That's right – nobody!

    February 8, 2011 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  18. Walker

    You'd never know from your pics and headline that Huckabee is in the top spot in this poll..ridiculous.

    February 8, 2011 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  19. EBC

    Looks like a circus of clowns to me. These are the BEST the GOP has to offer? Geez, let's see what the WORSE is because I'm sure its the same group of losers. Republicans LOVE recycling losers over and over. NOT surprising at all. This just proves they have NO LEADER.

    February 8, 2011 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  20. Chipster

    No surprise there. Haven't Republican leaders made it pretty clear that all they want is control so they can protect corporations from all those evil rules preventing pollution, unsafe working conditions, unfair labor practices, abusive penalty fees, and – #1 on the list – help corporations avoid any accountability for products or services they deliver.

    February 8, 2011 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  21. Anonymous

    Look at the poll... They only asked 1,012 people. There are almost 200 million registered voters in the U.S. Get a bigger sample!

    February 8, 2011 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  22. Bob Dog

    Run, Sarah, Run!!! Our country needs you! (To destroy any republican chances whatsoever.)

    February 8, 2011 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  23. ellid

    Let's see....

    A religious fanatic, a quitter, and a technocrat with no convictions. What a wretched group.

    February 8, 2011 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  24. Bob Dog

    Sarah, put yourself before your country! Run, Run!!!!

    February 8, 2011 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  25. John

    When it all boils down, President Obama has an excellent chance of winning. If the big business's (virtually all are republican oriented) start hiring and producing then there is no question President Obama will win. Right now the republicans are divided and frankly the front runners wouldn't get my vote. I am a repbulican.

    February 8, 2011 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
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