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. MM

    This does nothing but confirm that so many conservatives still struggle with complex and intellectual thoughts. For all those conservative out there that like Trump, do some research and try to understand why the last time he spoke of running (2000), he was pro-choice, advocating universal healthcare and he also wanted to increase taxes on the rich. Real conservative ideals, huh. Way to go flip flop more than Mitt.

    April 12, 2011 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  2. Eric

    Trump is a joke, fellow Republicans. Don't take him seriously. Vote for Huckabee or anyone else for that matter. We HAVE to have someone in the race who can beat Obama, and Trump is not the guy. Obama just announced today that he intends to raise taxes on job creators. How will that help restore the economy that he had a hand in destroying?

    April 12, 2011 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  3. Ancient Texan

    Conservatives like the idea of a candidate that will stand up and speak his mind, after the weak approach taken by John McCain in the last presidential election. That said, I don't think that Trump will rise to the top of the list and stay there, but he will embolden other candidates to be less timid.

    April 12, 2011 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  4. FM

    Oh gosh! things are slowly starting to heat up. Every time GOP poll is out, what we get is the mixture of apples and oranges together. Nothing concrete and separated. Instead of wasting time and money campaigning, they should wait until 2016. It will be the easy ride.

    April 12, 2011 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  5. Thomas Paine

    Wow, it's like the cast from Freaks. You got a Combover, a Mormon, a Moron, a Cheesehead, a Cracker and a Razorback. All that's missing is a Wino and you'd have lunch. That reminds me, where's Beck?

    April 12, 2011 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  6. Aaron

    Something is off with the CNN polls. Last week, Trump had no support, then suddenly with his birther nonsense, he's at the top? Even Repubs aren't that dense and propaganda prone.

    April 12, 2011 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  7. DN

    What does it say about Republicans in our country who support a man who's loudly jumped on board that crazy 'birther' controversy. As if Hilary Clinton's team (during the primaries), and then John McCain's team (during the general election race) wouldn't have uncovered the truth, if there was something to hide. You don't think the topic came up before Obama was elected and those running against him wouldn't have grabbed at the chance to disprove his ability to be president? Seriously.

    April 12, 2011 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  8. Gary

    Conservatives opting out of republican party?

    April 12, 2011 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  9. Mike

    I would vote for Trump. He seems pi–ed off, and so am I. Plus, he is basically an independent. Conservative, but he'd tell you the GOP is full of milktoast.

    April 12, 2011 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  10. Michael

    Is this the best the republicans can offer? I know there are more republicans qulified than Donald. Now wait a minute, maybe not. Let's see, Bachman, Palin, Gingrich, well, maybe he could get nominated after all. It would, however, prove that you can in fact buy an election. I doubt that this counrtry could function effectively with a president that owned a casino and stared in a reality TV show. Oh, the rest of the world would ahve a field day with this one.

    April 12, 2011 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  11. Itsa

    So, who is the bigger joke – Trump or Huck? Hard choice, but I'd have to go with Huck, because Trump is acting so crazy that he has to be mole working for the Dems. America, really????

    April 12, 2011 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  12. Lucy

    I think that Trump is a force to be reckoned with - he's passionate, knowledgeable and, most of all, not afraid to speak out. I also like Huckabee. Of course, this is only until Marco Rubio runs!!! That guy is awesome!

    April 12, 2011 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  13. Rick McDaniel

    I thought Bachmann was the "flavor of the day".

    April 12, 2011 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  14. mgc florida

    The dumbing down of america continues, first the tea party my way or the highway crowd and now mr "you're fired". can this country get any dumber!

    April 12, 2011 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  15. PDXSerric

    LMFAOIRL! I thought Trump was in there to give the illusion of credibility to Palin. Oh, I HOPE it's a Trump/Palin ticket for 2012. It'll be like Christmas, Easter, birthdays and New Years for the Dems, all rolled into one!

    Trump: I want to see your real birth certificate!

    US: I want to see your real hair.

    April 12, 2011 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  16. Voice of Reason

    Quit talking about him. You'll only encourage him. This poor deluded guy is starting to believe that people really want him to run for pres – or (worse yet), that he's actually up to the job.

    We saw Palin go through this about a year ago – and it took a while for reality to set in. That she was not as big a deal as she thought she was, and that she is ultimately completely unqualified for the job.

    I hope Trump will do the same – eventually realizing that he is far better at sitting in the wings and sniping at the real men and women who are competent. Sort of like a small dog yipping at a guest from under the couch.

    April 12, 2011 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  17. Rick McDaniel

    As an independent, I would consider he would be an even stronger candidate.

    April 12, 2011 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  18. J.R.

    It's like the Twilight Zone come to life. The Donald, and the Palin. I don't know about you, but I would say the Mayans were right.

    April 12, 2011 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  19. Mark

    Yep, let's put this party back in charge. They did such steller job with Geogre W. driving the bus....ricght off an econimic cliff. The democrats handed Bush a surplus and after engaging us in a war based on lies and decption they now want to claim they had nothing to do with this coutries problems. They brought this on themselves with dereglatiuon, tax cuts and spending like they had their own prinint press. Now they say "Give us another chance. We're better than Obama". Really? This economy is their doing. I guess they figured that since they screwed it up, they should be allowed to fix it. Not while I'm breathing.

    April 12, 2011 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  20. Jake

    I'm feeling very comfortable with a Trump & Obama faceoff. Trump's main platform is the birther movement appealing to the conservative right, but is he really expecting them to embrace his foriegn born, money digging, snooty wife as America's first lady!? good luck!

    April 12, 2011 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  21. Pam

    Someone needs to tell "the donald" to go sit in "the corner"!

    April 12, 2011 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  22. Bill

    Don't think it's not possible. I remember when they re-elected Nixon, against all forms of common sense... There' s no limit to lowering the bar in America.

    April 12, 2011 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  23. willard bullock

    Obama are keep mess up with mideast of country so he was fault his act with liyba

    April 12, 2011 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  24. Itsa

    Trump, a 4 time bankruptcy-pro with a life long pattern of being leveraged beyond his means – vs. – Huckabee, a poser preacher who has spouted a lifetime's worth of bigotry and hate speak against Americans in the last 3 years alone. There you have it, the front runners of the GOP field. I really don't know whether to laugh hysterically or cry. What has happened to the people in this country that they think these two are remotely near acceptable?? Really sad.

    April 12, 2011 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  25. Liberalator

    The American voting public is so stupid it never ceases to shock me.

    Voting for President is not a celebrity contest or an American Idol show. It is voting for what one would hope is an intelligent, worldly, committed, and responsible person who has the best interests of the country at heart and not a windbag driven wealthy elitist who has benefited from a tax code that favors the wealthiest Americans and shady business deals.


    April 12, 2011 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
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