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. Chipster

    I see that Pawlenty is convinced that he can win in 2012. I wonder if seniors will welcome Pawlenty's version of "Death Panels." His health care plan? Pawlenty agrees that we can no longer afford to pay for emergency care for those who have no insurance so he has a plan to instruct hospitals to simply stop treating them. We can call his health care reform: "SEND 'EM HOME TO DIE" Health Care Reform.

    February 8, 2011 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  2. Clwyd

    I feel better already seeing as the repulsive republicans only have a bunch of losers to choose from!

    February 8, 2011 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  3. Bassman

    Those are amazing poll numbers for Palin considering our media can't cover her straight. The media will cover Pres. Obama by just giving us the facts. Palin, on the other hand, often endures added opinion in every story. Or the media will stick a microphone in the face of some liberal and ask, "so what do you think of Sarah Palin" And then treat their answer as expert opinion.

    February 8, 2011 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  4. GOP = Greed Over People

    Yet, the Huckster a Baptist minister is the front runner?

    Looks like ideology is still the driving theme.

    February 8, 2011 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  5. Cincinnatian

    The first primaries should rotate to different states every 4 years. Why should Iowa and New Hampshire always get the first say?

    February 8, 2011 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  6. galfridus73

    None of the Republican hopefuls will win. The only one with any possible shot (Romney) will be dogpiled by the other candidates trying to prove their "true" conservatism. Romney will spend so much money getting through the gauntlet that will be the primaries (while Obama doesn't seem to have any primary challenges), and position himself so far to the right, that he will be ill-prepared by time the general election comes along.

    Say what you will about Obama's presidency, his campaigning is ruthless. Furthermore, the last three incumbents to lose (Bush Sr., Carter, and Ford) all had insurgencies within their parties that drew a decently strong primary challenger to run against them (Buchanan, Ted Kennedy, and Reagan, respectively). Obama simply is not facing an insurgency in the party. And without a primary challenge (Randall Terry is a joke, so ignore his supposed challenge to Obama) he will be well positioned to take the Republican down as easily as Clinton took down Dole and Reagan took down Mondale.

    Any smart Republican candidate who knows they have a strong shot at the White house is going to hold off till 2016.

    February 8, 2011 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  7. Rick McDaniel

    So far, the best candidate would be Daniels. Those who have run before, have shown they can't win, and those who are pushing the religious agenda, can't win. The citizens want effective government, not religious fanatics.

    February 8, 2011 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  8. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    If ideology is less important than electability, how did Huckleberry and Caribou Barbie get so high of a percentage?

    February 8, 2011 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  9. Darth Vadik, CA

    A winner in the ideology of losers is the biggest loser...

    February 8, 2011 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  10. PalmReader

    As interesting as this poll might be to some, only including age 50+ voters is a bit of a stretch.

    February 8, 2011 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  11. 100% ETH

    Whomever could serve America enthusiastically, will be a must choice.

    February 8, 2011 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  12. james Miller

    We had the "Idiotologists" the first 8 yrs of the 21st century and it wrecked the economy. Now even the Repubs are just hoping to get a winner. The economy will be turning around for everyone ( not just Wall street) by 2012 and Obama will be hard to beat.

    February 8, 2011 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  13. rs

    If the information contained herein is correct, then the Republicans do have a serious problem. If all they are about is "winning", but have no real platform or values to run on, they will never become effective leaders (see: GW Bush, et al). If they actually embrace the only folks with a voice- the ultra-right fringe within their party, and run on their platforms, they will never win open elections. (Note see: Arizona for radical right leadership in action).

    It would appear then that the Republican Party: A) better figure our their finances; B) get a plaform they can support and sell to Americans, C) become a positive force in politics instead of just being the "anti-Democrats".

    February 8, 2011 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  14. 100% ETH

    The World keep getting TOUGHER and ARMED than before.

    America must be smarter and tougher than before.
    The working Hours must be fully stretched.

    February 8, 2011 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  15. Jaywing

    I see no winners in this picture, only whiners, quiters, liars, boys with magic underwear and goofballs. My guess is that if you threw the entire lot against a wall, none of them would stick. Break out the tea, GOP (Greed Over People), and enjoy it while you can, because the next thing you drink in 2012 will be the dregs of party hemlock.

    February 8, 2011 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  16. geecee

    Well, good luck with that GOP!! All you have running are a bunch of idealogues. None of them are Presidential material.

    February 8, 2011 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  17. annette

    the repubs want someone who can beat obama – well that leaves sarah at the bottom of the totem pole.

    February 8, 2011 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  18. Russ

    Yeah, let's not run on someone that has intelligence or good ideas to help our country, someone who cares about their fellow Americans struggling to get by, let's run on who best can defeat Obama. And the wonder why so many people think Republcians are infintile, self centered, hypocritical idiots.

    February 8, 2011 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  19. Peter E

    And this is news how? Republicans rarely cared about principles.Throughout the Bush years they kept criticizing democrats for actions Bush Jr. did, then made excuses for why foreign interventionism, record deficit spending, expanded Medicare and social programs were okay for their own president but not for others.

    February 8, 2011 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  20. ST

    Can a real winner in this group stand up please!!. None of them can come infront and declare will win. They also don't have ideology either!

    February 8, 2011 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  21. Limbaugh is a liberal

    Please, PLEASE nominate Palin! We could use a good laugh!

    February 8, 2011 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  22. Sniffit

    CNN: The ALL Republican 2012 Presidential Campaign website, ALL the time.

    This poll simply shows what we already knew, by the way: the GOP/conservatives don't give a crap about what people think, what solutions they're proposing, what policies they espouse, etc....ALL they want is control and power and to get rid of "President Darky." 2012 will be the year of the "I have no idea what I'm going to do to solve our problems and help this nation progress, but vote for me because I'm not HIM" campaign. Yippee solutions, no plans, no ideas and no thought...just hate, vitriol, tribalism, nativism, bigotry, partisanship and talking points devoid of factual and evidentiary support and wholely ignorant of the historical record....bought and paid for by corporate interests and secret foreign money funneled through tax exempted fronts. Boy, I sure can't wait for the corporatocratic krischun nashun utopia the GOP will deliver...

    February 8, 2011 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  23. Republican's Are Fraud's !

    There is no way they pick anyone who is moderate enough in peoples mind's to ever be considered for their nomination ! Plain and simple the teaparty idiot's will campaign hard against them and they will ultimately pick someone that the vast majority of American's find repulsive ! Just watch , it will be someone crazy like Palin ! Besides President Obama and the Democrat's will be strong with a host of accomplishment's under their belt's . Also most people aren't gullible enough to give republican's another chance at screwing this country up again after the bang up job that Bush did ! No Thank's ! Just look at where we were just two year's ago when the market's were trading around 7000 now their trading over 12000 ! The economy has started to grow again and job's are soon to follow when that happens ! All this happened despite republican opposition to every fix ! Just look at what the republican's have done so far after 2010 the election's, all they have done is try to take us backwards to the same old failed policies that created the mess were finally starting to come out of ! All they did was talk about job's before the election's but after the election's have done nothing to help job growth ! That's why I say the Republican's are Fraud's !

    February 8, 2011 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  24. slipthalo

    Republican voters only care about winning and not about the policies of the candidate or their view on the issues? Like that's news, it's been that way for several election cycles now.

    February 8, 2011 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  25. Tired of the nonsense

    So they only want an empty suit instead of someone who would work for Americans and try to rebuild this country after the Bush disastrous regime.

    Yeah. The GOP don't care about America or Americans, and this is further proof of it.

    February 8, 2011 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
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