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. Four and The Door

    It's kind of fun seeing Donald Trump and his bold approach to this opportunity. At this point, I am more convinced that Mitt Romney or Sarah Palin are better choices. But every one of them would be a stronger, more effective leader than Obama. I'm just glad he has a team of people around him explaining what's going on in the country because otherwise he wouldn't have a clue. He's certainly not the one driving any of it. He's better described as someone on the side of the road trying to figure out what just happened. Meanwhile, John Boehner zios past him at 75 mph.

    April 12, 2011 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  2. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Saying 19% support him is the same as saying 81% do not support him. How did his announcement about taking his toys and running as an independent if he doesn't get the not play in Iowa? Not well, I would bet.

    April 12, 2011 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  3. Kenneth the VI of Minneapolis

    Hell, if Trump bring up Rev. Wright, his popularity will increase another 7 – 12 points........The GOP's dog and pony show continues.

    April 12, 2011 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  4. Rhona

    Excellent. If he's the best the Repubs can muster, it is going to be a walk in the park for Obama in 2012.

    Can the Republicans be any more disorganized and dangerous to America?

    April 12, 2011 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  5. Emerson C

    Trump is a flash in the pan. He will flame out.

    April 12, 2011 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  6. RG

    The irony is that Trump has gained credability over the birther issue. He may be what this country needs to lead us into fiscal bankruptcy, with his vast experience in this field. If you just want moral bankruptcy, you can pick from any of the Republicans.

    April 12, 2011 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  7. sue

    Until they can find someone that is a serious contender with smarts and not in it for their own gain (Trump, Palin) or in it with religion ruling their decisions (Huckabee, Palin) or canidates that run on everything this President has done wrong in stead of what they can do better (and I want to hear their ideas not just jive talk that they will do better HOW?????).....I will vote Democrat

    April 12, 2011 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  8. Louis

    The stupidity of the American voter has no limits.

    April 12, 2011 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  9. CutTax

    Trump is the only american hope

    April 12, 2011 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  10. Bill NY

    I think Mr. Trump should run and hopefully win so that he can finish the hatchet job the republicans/conservatives/tea party are doing to this country(put us out of our misery). With the lack of true leadership in this he would be the cherry on the sundae. Everyday I see more and more evidence of the extreme stupidity that the body politic has become in the USA. We are truly doomed!

    April 12, 2011 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  11. Sniffit

    Hahaha...he's going to completely screw the GOP up on 2012. I love it.

    April 12, 2011 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  12. sayer

    Would love to see The Donald get the nomination! That would guarantee Obama four more years!

    April 12, 2011 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  13. Bob Dog

    This is great news for America.

    With Sarah Palin looking a little "ridden hard and put away wet," we need another republican buffoon to ensure an Obama second term. Mr. Trump is just the ego-maniacal hypocrite we need to destroy any possible republican chance in 2012.

    The republicans keep churning out these complete unelectables – Palin, Barbour, Gingrich, Bachman, and now Trump.

    Wonderful entertainment!!

    April 12, 2011 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  14. haris b.

    I have lost what little respect I had for this joker. But I do hope he or Palin make it to the end so they can get demolished by Obama on his way to a second term.

    April 12, 2011 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  15. notfooledbydistractions

    Trumps polling numbers are a testament to the deplorable state of the republican party and the gullibility of it's supporters. Last time around it was witless Sarah Palin. Sane people would never consider this silver spoon wind-bag for a role as important as the presidency. Aside from that, I don't think the White House is large enough to house Trumps ego.

    April 12, 2011 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  16. Carol

    Really? With all that "birther" stuff? Who would vote for him???

    April 12, 2011 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  17. Anyone surprised . . .

    Half of the Republics think Obama is a Kenyan, Muslim secret spy. Half of the Republics in Mississippi think that interracial marriage should be outlawed.

    Republics are the party of the century – 19th, that is.

    April 12, 2011 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  18. Robb

    Man, the Republicans will support anyone who has a pulse. Another flavor of the day that won't go anywhere. Romney's unelectable because of his religion, Huckabee is to much of a Christian-tush kisser to attract Independents. Palin and Bachmann are too whacked and Pawlenty is too milquetoast. Is there anyone left on that side I can vote for? Sorry, didn't mean to say left.

    April 12, 2011 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  19. Rich

    His bump has to come from the Birthers. Some 40 percent of the Republicon minions believe that Obama was not born in the US. Trump's play to the Birthers, and its result, shows that this will be an issue in the Republicon Party throughout the Campaign. They're stuck with it.

    April 12, 2011 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  20. wmontanye

    Please run Donald Please.......LOL

    April 12, 2011 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  21. Fed Up

    Don't know if I will vote for him in the primaries. I do like him, however, because he speaks his mind and doesn't feel the need to be politically correct. He says what he feels. Good job there.

    April 12, 2011 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  22. Brian, NJ

    This is evidence that Trump knows what he is doing here. He is riding the "birther" issue to the top of the polls and will later dump it since Obama was born in Hawaii. He knows Obama was born in Hawaii, but this is an issue that gets him press and he knows the polls show a large amount of idiot Republicans don't think Obama was born in the US. He has already started to pivot to other issues.

    April 12, 2011 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  23. living in america

    Who is answering the polls, friends of Charlie Sheen. Wow if Trump wins his wife only knows two words as First Lady, Ching,Ching. I never heard her say a complete sentence. I can see him answering questions on foreign affairs. Get a foreign wife and marry her and the world will be alright. Maybe that squirrel on his head could bring peace to the Middle East. Can't wait until they open the files on him to see how he made his money since he is trying to open the files on President Obama's birth certificate.

    April 12, 2011 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  24. Lynda/Minnesota

    Can't get much lower than Donald Trump, GOPers. But do keep pretending it doesn't matter, or that they are all STRONG candidates (maybe) running for President. Apparently those who were *waiting* for a GOPer front runner to emerge seem happy enough with Trump. Can't imagine that the rest of American voters will be as easily excited by garbage candidates as GOPers seem to be. Even more interesting is that 70% want Huckabee to run ... regardless of whether they support him or not.

    April 12, 2011 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  25. Bill

    Bring it Donald! You're gonna crash and burn faster than a downed jet fighter. With luck, you will take the rest of the GOP with you!

    This guy's more obnoxious than Sponge Bob! I give him a wee or two tops, and then he can fade away just like the other GOP genius, Carl Paladino!

    April 12, 2011 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
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