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. Mike in SA

    How does the winner (by a mile) of the recent Iowa straw poll, Herman Cain, not even make it on the CNN survey??? CNN is way out of touch with any conservative mindset and is losing relevance because of that.

    April 12, 2011 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  2. Pat in IL

    This is just the "side show" effect.

    April 12, 2011 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  3. shoegazer

    Wake up America.This is what happens when the delusional line between celebrity and actual political leadership becomes
    so blurred that reality gets lost.

    April 12, 2011 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  4. Yeah I Know Right

    Shocking Republicans really are that stupid. Come on the man has filed for bankruptcy no fewer than 3 times.

    April 12, 2011 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  5. Frustrated Independent Voter !

    This just show's how gullible republican voter's are ! No one know's where Trump stand's on any issue , the first thing that comes to mind with him in politic's is BIRTHER ! This is nonsense ! Now I can completely see why Republican's elected Bush ! THEY'RE CRAZY ! This man with all his bankruptcies will be even worse than Bush was with the economy ! OMG ! Republican's are Stupid !

    April 12, 2011 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  6. Herbie Walker

    Running around like chickens with their heads cut off!

    April 12, 2011 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  7. beevee

    Good, let the dog fight begin.

    April 12, 2011 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  8. Fair is Fair

    With all of this birther nonsense and now mumblings of an independent run, I'm beginning to wonder if this chump is deliberately trying to sabotage the GOP.

    April 12, 2011 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  9. Al

    I'm not in love with the idea of the Republicans taking back the White House in 2012, but if they do, I pray it's with someone like Romney as opposed to celebrity candidates such as Trump who are more concerned about birth certificates than coming up with concrete problems. That said, the more extreme the GOP candidate, the better Obama is going to look to the swing voters. (Yes, I know Reagan was a "celebrity" candidate too – but he at least had complete terms as governor of California under his belt before he became president.)

    April 12, 2011 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  10. gg

    This poll proves that Republicans have become more delusional than ever.

    April 12, 2011 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  11. Are you kidding me ?

    He start's spouting this Birther nonsense and suddenly he jump's to the top of the republican list ! Republican's truly are CRAZY ! No wonder we got BUSH !

    April 12, 2011 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  12. Ituri

    If people vote for THIS IDIOT, I swear the US is a pointless, business controlled haven for stupidity.

    Trump, people? TRUMP? He bankrupted a CASINO. Who bankrupts a CASINO? They'll vote for him because he's FAMOUS, because they're IDIOTS, and nothing else. The game gets dumber and dumber every 4 years...

    April 12, 2011 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  13. Beverly - NYC

    Please Republicans make Trump your nominee, it will be fun watching him implode like former tea bag candidates
    Carl Paladino, Christine "I m not a witch" O'Donnell. I will be very disappointed in you Donald, if after all this hype you punk out for "family reasons."

    April 12, 2011 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  14. Carol

    Just when you think the rank and file of the GOP can't get any nuttier . . .

    April 12, 2011 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  15. C. Howe Yulikit

    Bwahahahaha!! This is hilarious! The Republicans actually consider him a viable candidate?!?

    April 12, 2011 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  16. JASON

    The mere fact this clown leads the GOP poll is all you need to know about the Republican voting base: DELUSIONAL and WATCH TOO MUCH TV

    April 12, 2011 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  17. Thankfully Independent

    The '12 Republican primaries are going to be a hoot ... maybe even better than the '64 and '76 classics.

    April 12, 2011 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  18. gt

    why not .... look at our last two presidents... of course he could win george and obama did... why not Donald..

    April 12, 2011 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  19. EZRA

    GOP is doomed. Trump? President? LOL

    April 12, 2011 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  20. don

    Donald Trump is presenting himself as a bold decision maker who shrewdly succeeds in uncertain financial times.
    Actually, his developments in New York City, Atlantic City, Chicago and elsewhere have performed very poorly for investors. Very poorly indeed.
    So he is mostly bold and somewhat arrogant. He will say things others will only think.
    The Democrats are wise to let him gain as much Republican support as he can. He will not withstand the critical eye of a general election campaign well at all.

    April 12, 2011 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  21. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Let's see which Republican is afraid of the "big bad wolf" that being Trump because there isn't one Democrat afraid of him as he'd like to think.

    April 12, 2011 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  22. RyPay

    what happened to the republican party? these candidates are all disgraces. I don't want to vote for Obama but I will have to since he is the lesser of 2 evils. Where have all the moderate republicans gone? We need you to save the USA.

    April 12, 2011 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  23. lynn

    Being an Arkansan I understand what Huckabee did to our state before high-tailing it to Florida. But at least he held an elected office for many years. And they jumped all over Obama when he ran for office, but he also held an elected office for several years. But the only thing Trump has done is self-promote his huge ego. The GOP is so desparate they'd even nominate a rock star just to "take back" the WH. Care about the U.S., certainly not, how silly to think they care about anything except the GOP.

    April 12, 2011 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  24. a6102658

    I love that, The GOP knows that while Trump can win the primary because of his own money, he is no competition to Obama.
    A Birther for president!!..IKnowRight?

    April 12, 2011 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  25. Constitutionalist_Patriot

    Hahaha why is anyone still talking about these mainstream idiots? Trump is an imperialist nut and Huckabee well he's about as establishment as it gets though not as bad as Romney. Think hard GOP'ers and nominate wisely because I speak for millions of Americans when I tell you it's Ron Paul or third party for me. I'm not voting for a corporatist neocon to replace the one already in the White House, I will vote for real change, I will vote for Ron Paul!

    April 12, 2011 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
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