CNN Poll: Trump tied for first in GOP horserace
April 12th, 2011
11:24 AM ET
12 years ago

CNN Poll: Trump tied for first in GOP horserace

Washington (CNN) - Donald Trump is now tied with Mike Huckabee for first place when Republicans are asked who they support for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, according to a new national poll.

But while a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday indicates that the real estate mogul and reality TV star has nearly doubled his support since mid-March, it doesn't mean he has smooth sailing ahead.

"More than four in ten Republicans say they would not like to see Trump toss his hat in the ring," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

Nineteen percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents questioned in the poll say that as of now, they'd be most likely to support Trump for next year's GOP presidential nomination. Trump says he'll decide by June whether he runs for the White House. An equal amount say they'd back Huckabee. The former Arkansas governor and 2008 Republican presidential candidate says he'll decide by later this year if he'll make another bid for the White House.

Twelve percent say they'd support former Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, who was the party's 2008 vice presidential nominee, with 11 percent backing former Massachusetts Gov. and 2008 White House hopeful Mitt Romney and the same amount supporting former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Seven percent say they are backing Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, another 2008 presidential candidate, with five percent supporting Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who enjoys strong backing from many in the Tea Party movement. Everyone else registers in the low single digits.

Trump jumped from 10 percent in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll conducted last month, with Romney dropping from 18 percent to 11 percent.

"Are Republicans switching from Romney to Trump? Some are, but it's a lot more complicated than that, as you would expect with 11 potential hats in the ring," adds Holland. "Only one in five Trump supporters say that Romney would be their second choice. It looks like Trump pulls as much support from Gingrich and Palin as from Romney, and Romney's support would go down even if Trump were not in the list of potential candidates."

The poll was conducted in the two days before Romney's Monday announcement that he was taking the first formal step towards another bid, by setting up a presidential exploratory committee.

According to the survey, more than seven in ten Republicans say that regardless of whom they would support, they'd like to see Huckabee run for the party's presidential nomination, with two-thirds saying the same thing about Romney.

But that figure drops to 56 percent for Trump, with 43 percent saying they don't want to see him run. By a narrower 53 to 47 percent margin, they would like to see Palin make a bid for the White House, and by a 51 to 45 percent margin, they would like to see Gingrich run.

So what could be behind Trump's rise in the poll?

One contributing factor could be his numerous appearances in the national media. Trump's questioning of whether President Barack Obama was born in the U.S. has put Trump smack in the media spotlight the past two months.

"If Trump is rising in the polls because of the amount of air time he has gotten, it would be difficult to tell whether his gains are due to what he is saying or simply due to his increased visibility. In a field of more than a dozen potential candidates, all air time is good air time," says Holland. "Most presidential seasons get to a point when the voters are looking for a fresh face. That's what gave us Fred Thompson in 2008 and Wesley Clark in 2004, to name just two examples. If the Republican rank and file has already hit that phase, Trump would be the obvious beneficiary."

But being in the top spot in the polls the year before the election doesn't always end with that candidate winning their party's nomination. Both Sen. Hillary Clinton and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani led in the national horserace polls in 2007, with neither ending up taking their party nominations.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted by telephone, with 824 people questioned. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

-CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

Filed under: CNN poll
soundoff (137 Responses)
  1. stevetall

    Horse race? Isn't anyone representing the front-half of the horse?!?

    April 12, 2011 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  2. Seattle Sue

    Tied with Mike, that's not saying much.

    April 12, 2011 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  3. Citizenny

    I think I would vote for Trump!

    April 12, 2011 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  4. TM

    And who was leading the Republican polls in early 2007? I'll give you a hint, it WASN'T McCain.

    April 12, 2011 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  5. Robert

    At least this the time the Republicans will have someone with half a brain. The last thing this country needs are movie stars, cowboys or failed business owners.

    April 12, 2011 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  6. Jon

    That jerk? Seriously, guys?... Well, I guess he's a little bit better than Palin. So at least that's progress.

    April 12, 2011 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  7. Dan

    Works for ME ... the more idiots like TheDonald and Sarah Palin that run on the GOP ticket, the easier it'll be for the OTHER side -

    April 12, 2011 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  8. GrogInOhio

    That is absolutely hilarious. It's a VERY good sign for President Obama that no serious candidate from the GOP is interested in challenging him.

    April 12, 2011 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  9. Dump Trump

    He‛s painfully honest! 
 “Bankruptcy?  I don’t think it’s a failure. It’s a success.”
(when Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts filed for bankruptcy protection after accruing $1.8 billion in debt)

    He‛s got his priorities straight!
 “You know, it really doesn’t matter what [the media] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”

    He‛s selfless and cares about others!
 “I’m not a schmuck.  Even if the world goes to hell in a handbasket, I won’t lose a penny.”

    April 12, 2011 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  10. Brian

    I actually agree with him on many levels. Anything is better than the crap we have in office right now. Pffft.

    April 12, 2011 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  11. Sarah Palin does not speak for me in Ohio

    A twice divorced, several times bankrupt big mouthed "tycoon" is just what we need as a Republican candidate. Is this the best you can do?

    April 12, 2011 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  12. LaylaG

    Are you kidding me? What could Trump possibly positively contribute to the American people? He doesn't care about the struggling underdog. He's in it to make his own fortune even larger. American politics have become such a joke, and unfortunately, the same can be said for the American people.

    April 12, 2011 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  13. Chuck

    Anyone that thinks this man or Palin would have even a remote chance of being elected anything more that nutjobs of the year, truly should have their heads examined as they are really liking in common sense, and the ability to reason coherently!!!

    April 12, 2011 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  14. ConservaFascists/FUBAR

    Trump is a joke! If I were a republican, I'd choose Romney over this bigot Trump. Mitt actually has 'GOVERNED" while Trump has has "FAILED" businesses.

    Bachmann/Palin 20never

    April 12, 2011 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  15. max

    wow ... so many stupid people in the party of G(ay) O(ld) P(reverts) .... the new stupidity of the radical right amazes me ...

    April 12, 2011 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  16. Kent

    President of a company, yes. President, of, by, and FOR THE PEOPLE...... no.

    April 12, 2011 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  17. Politicians are Angels and Teachers are now Devils according to the gospel of GOP Tea Party

    I like the fact that Trump is NOW leading in the polls for the GOP nomination!

    This is just laughable at best and it shows that the GOP nomination is nothing but a reality show!....glad Palin & Trump both have their own reality shows and they've brought it to the mainstream media circus to replace the GOP nomination where real issues that affects our great nation & practical solutions needs to be discussed!

    Thanks GOP-Tea Party for giving us another laugh this coming election cycle....keep on talking about birther and death panels to solve our nations problem!!!

    April 12, 2011 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  18. David

    This is a fine reflection of a segment of the American public. Trump has corrupt ethics and morals; boasts of screwing people on "deals"; and cares only about winning and profit. THIS is someone you want to be president???

    April 12, 2011 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  19. JV

    Lord! Can't imagine what this will do to his ego.

    April 12, 2011 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  20. fiscalsanity

    Trumps was the first to say "The Emperor has no clothes" and finally people are waking up to the fraud that is Obama!

    April 12, 2011 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  21. Grady

    i am neither shocked nor awed...with todays politics being the circus that it is...Vince McMahon, could announce his desire to run, as a Republican, for the preidency during a Wrestlemania event and probably be considered a front runner for the GOP.

    April 12, 2011 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  22. greyhackles

    The real headline should have reflected the nose-dive by Romney – the only R that has even the slightest chance of winning the general election...

    April 12, 2011 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  23. OKTOGO77

    This just says so much about Republicans...

    April 12, 2011 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  24. The Real Tom Paine

    The support is soft for the flavor du jour. He's already said he would consider a 3rd-party run, and his positions on trade contradict decades of advocacy for Free-Trade within the GOP and the US Chamber of Commerce. Once people discover he's willing to do anything to boost ratings for his show, and the hell with the country, his support will evaporate. The GOP's bench is so thin its ridiculous.

    April 12, 2011 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  25. Diane P

    This country needs to look at it's educational system, people are obviously not being taught requirements for thought processing or competent decision making. We're looking like foolish idiots around the world , how embarrassing!

    April 12, 2011 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
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