CNN Poll: Perry still at top but Romney stronger vs. Obama
September 26th, 2011
12:01 PM ET
12 years ago

CNN Poll: Perry still at top but Romney stronger vs. Obama

Washington (CNN) - Despite his performances in the two most recent Republican presidential debates, a new national survey indicates that Texas Gov. Rick Perry remains on top of the field in the race for the GOP nomination.

But a CNN/ORC International Poll also indicates that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney does better than Perry in hypothetical 2012 general election matchups against President Barack Obama and matches evenly with the president on the issues and on personal characteristics.

According to the survey, which was released Monday, 28 percent of Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP say they support Perry as their party's presidential nominee, with Romney at 21 percent. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is at ten percent, with Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who's making his third bid for the White House, former Godfather's Pizza CEO and radio talk show host Herman Cain, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, all at seven percent. The poll indicates that Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota is at four percent, with former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania at three percent and former Utah Gov. and ambassador to China Jon Huntsman at one percent.

Palin has flirted with a bid for the GOP nomination, but the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee has not taken any concrete steps towards launching a campaign. Taking Palin out of the mix produces a similar result: 30 percent for Perry, 22 percent for Romney, 11 percent for Gingrich, and all other candidates in single digits.

The poll was conducted Friday through Sunday, after last Thursday's debate in Orlando, Florida. Pundits and analysts rate Perry's performance in that debate, and in a debate one a week and a half earlier in Tampa, Florida, as uneven. Perry's distant second showing at a much-watched straw poll of Florida GOP activists this past weekend may be a reflection of his debate performances, and his stance on illegal immigration and border security, which were spotlighted in both debates.

"Did Perry's performance in the most recent debate affect the horse race? Maybe yes, but maybe no," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Perry's support is down just two points, and Romney is up only one to three points - and since all those numbers are well within the sampling error, it doesn't look like much has changed, possibly because average voters aren't as plugged into the debates as political junkies are. If the debates have had an effect, it may be mostly in favor of Gingrich, whose support went from 5 percent in mid-September to 10 percent now."

According to the poll, the president's overall approval rating, at 45 percent, is essentially unchanged since July. Fifty-two percent of all Americans disapprove of his job performance to date.

The 2012 election will not be an up-or-down vote on Obama, but rather a choice between the president and another candidate, so head-to-head match-ups against the top GOP candidates are a better test of Obama's electoral strength.

The survey indicates that Romney fares best against Obama. It's basically all tied up with 49 percent for Obama and 48 percent for Romney in a hypothetical two-way match-up. According to the poll, Obama holds a five point margin over Perry, 51 percent to 46 percent.

In a hypothetical matchup between Paul and Obama, the president holds a four point margin, 51 percent to 47 percent. Obama handily beats Bachmann and Palin in two-way match-ups. But keep in mind, as always, that polls taken more than a year before the election have little or no predictive value.

Obama's ace-in-the-hole remains the fact that he is personally more popular than his policies. According to the poll, his favorable rating, which measures reactions to him personally, is eight points higher than his job approval rating. Fifty-two percent of all Americans disagree with him on issues, but 58 percent believe he has the personality and leadership qualities a president should have. And by a 49 to 43 percent margin, Americans say that personal qualities are more important than issues to their vote for president.

Only Romney matches up well with Obama on both of those measures. Six in ten Americans say Romney has the personal qualities a president should have, compared to only 45 percent who feel that way about Perry.

Forty-six percent of Americans agree with Romney on issues. "That doesn't sound like much, but it's far better than the 39 percent who say they agree with Perry. That 46 percent is also ten points higher than the number who agreed with Romney in his first run for the White House in 2008," adds Holland.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from September 23-25, with 1,010 adult Americans, including 447 Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.


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Filed under: 2012 • CNN poll • Mitt Romney • Polls • Rick Perry
soundoff (187 Responses)
  1. Obama/Biden 2012 -- Because 4 years of FAILURE just isn't enough

    Romney/Rubio 2012 – The cure for four years of Obama FAILURE.

    September 26, 2011 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  2. Sequoia

    There is no way either of these clowns can beat Obama. If Mullah Perry and Flip Flop Mittens Romney are the best Republicans have, it's gonna be another Obama landside. He's the rational, moderate, informed adult in the race and he's got my vote!

    September 26, 2011 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  3. bb

    Perry is dense as a door knob. We all knew that what he has said in the past, much less what he has said recently OR his poor track record, would have put a roadblock in front of a national election for him. No news here.

    Mitt is dull, boring, status quo, offers nothing different than the Bush policies that crashed our economy to begin with, has no track record himself in the public or private sectors. He won't appeal to the far right OR Independents. But he's a white male....which is good enough for too many Republicans, given the alternative. Our country deserves the decline it worked so hard for.

    September 26, 2011 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  4. Douglas

    WOW! If either of these two career politicians got in as the Republican candidate I would choose to just write in Ron Paul. I am not happy with Obama, and I think both of those two choice republicans are muff cabbage! We need a true Republican if we are to try and get Obama out. Clearly these two front runners only want to win and do not actually care about changing anything, America is doomed unless stop voting for career politicians that only want to keep things the way they are.

    September 26, 2011 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  5. SaintM

    I'd like to see Perry remain at #1, get the nomination, and then try to outsmart President Obama in the debates. His incoherent performance in the debate last week will be even worse when confronting the intelligent, educated person who currently has the job that he wants.

    At the debates, look for the wire running into Perry's ear just like George W. Bush. Republicans can't reason on their own, so they need to have their answers handed to them. Perry is a fool, but I like a fool to go up against President Obama because that makes his re-election iron clad. Don't be fooled by Mitt Romney. He hasn't been vetted on a national level as the Republican contender, and I don't think he would fare any better. He has a lot of explaining to do about his Corporate Raider and outsourcing jobs to other countries–let along his own miserable leadership record in Massachusetts.

    September 26, 2011 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  6. gorefan

    "by a 49 to 43 percent margin, Americans say that personal qualities are more important than issues to their vote for president. "

    How does that compare with similar polls in previous elections? Have polls always shown that "personal qualities are more important than issues' in people's vote for president? Or is this something new? These seems to contradict the whole "it's the economy, stupid" argument.

    September 26, 2011 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  7. king

    ooohhhh hell if these people elect a repug with a repug congress. i wonder what them old folks would do when they are handed coupon to go out their and beg these private companies to insure them. oohh i forgot the corporate run media will not bring their heartaches to light. since their will be no more obamacare. i wonder what policies these money hungry shareholder will direct their CEOs, how to diliver health care. and since the employers would have to pay for folks healthcare, because the repugs will kill the mandate of employees paying for their own health care. i wonder how many people will be layed off or how many investments would be made to open up new businesses since the healthcare would cause so much to employers. i wonder deregulating every thing and dig for oil in our own backyard, when the world economy is slowly whinning themselves off oil, and moving to clean energy. i wonder how many jobs that will create, or
    will the the jobs creations outweigh a lifetime of polution of water, air, and cancer. i hope the new healthcare the repugs put in after they kill the obamacare will insure patience with biological and chemical poisoning.

    September 26, 2011 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  8. catwill

    Polls at this time is not predictive of future success. We are becoming used to these GOP/T candidates and they all are lacking as a viable strong candidate against President Obama because their own party don't want them as a candidate and is wishing for another person to run.

    September 26, 2011 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  9. Obama/Biden 2012 -- Because 4 years of FAILURE just isn't enough

    "by a 49 to 43 percent margin, Americans say that personal qualities are more important than issues to their vote for president. "
    Except when the nice guy has FOUR YEARS OF FAILURE in the job. Except when the nice guy is TOTALLY CLUELESS about how our economy works. Ex cept when the nice guy is totally incompetent and displayed ZERO LEADERSHIP ABILITY.

    September 26, 2011 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  10. enough of lies

    Maybe it will be Romney and Perry vs obama – biden

    September 26, 2011 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  11. thomas

    In the end , who will be on top ?

    Perry / Romney or Romney / Perry
    Log Cabin Republicans for Perry

    September 26, 2011 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  12. George

    Obama is still the best choice. Nobody matches up his personal qualities for president.

    September 26, 2011 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  13. larry

    Ron Paul will be on top. Please google his predictions ten years ago. I voed for McCain and liked Obama but I have seen the light. Please check him out!!

    September 26, 2011 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC

    How many free passes will Republicans give to Gov. Rick Perry? I mean like the guy has blown up in 3 three straight debates. He should be called out on strikes.

    September 26, 2011 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  15. john

    Perry will beat obama next year. perry 50% obam 47%

    September 26, 2011 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  16. Thomas

    Check the link to the survey results. It pulls up a poll from 2010

    September 26, 2011 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  17. WillR

    George Bush = Failed trickle down economic policies
    Romney = Failed trickle down economic policies
    Perry = Failed trickle down economic policies

    Not anywhere near good enough, GOTP.

    September 26, 2011 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  18. Chad

    You may as well re-elect Obama if you are going to vote for Romney, or Perry. They both want Carbon taxes, they both support gov. healthcare despite what either one says, they will continue if not expand the 5 wars we are currently involved in.
    So dont worry Democrats, at the top both parties are the same. Neither Perry nor Romney will stop gov. healthcare, they will expand it. So get ready for more of the same, an guess what unemployrment will also get worse with either of these 3, because thats part of the globalist plan. There is no difference except for Ron Paul.

    September 26, 2011 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  19. Brian

    Lame. Gary Johnson excluded from the poll. Hard to meet the polling requirements to get in a debate when you're not even an option in the poll.

    September 26, 2011 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  20. P8TRIOT

    Ron Paul is the only real Candidate. All the rest ( especially Perry & Romney ) will continue where Obama left off. Look at this guys voting record. He stand by his guns and doesn't flip-flip . I don't want Coke or Pepsi anymore....I want Dr. "Paul" Pepper !

    September 26, 2011 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  21. smith1

    let these two idiots "duke it out" !!! romney will be exposed for the inveterate "flip-flopper" that he is and people will see how "dumb as dirt" perry is !!! and if a "3 AM phone call" should come for either one, romney would likely say "should I answer it ???" and perry would likely say "is it for me ???" !!! neither is presidential material !!!

    September 26, 2011 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  22. Tom in the Great NW

    The glaring difference in teanut-gop candidates is that Mitt Romney does not pray for the US economy to fail; also, he does not attack President Obama in a personal way.
    ..But the rest? Perry is another Dubya, Bachmann is ridiculously stupid, Palin snipes on her twitter "I quit, but I'm not a quitter", Paul is hopelessly misunderstood by even the teanut-gop, Huntsman is MIA, and Cain doesn't know who he is.
    ...Let us support our president as he makes these monumental repairs inflicted upon us by the teanut-gop!!

    September 26, 2011 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  23. Joan

    The results of this poll are just more proof that all polls are unreliable. They vary by poll, state, wording of the questions, who asks the questions, who gets asked the questions, what time of day they get called, where they live, etc. etc. etc. Also, who is doing the poll is very relevant. Rasmussen and McClatchey polls are biased toward Republicans but some others may favour Pres. Obama. The results of the straw polls are especially a poor indicator because only a few hundred people vote and obviously that is not indicative of a whole state. Bachmann won a huge straw poll but is out of the running now and for days she got 24/7 coverage because of that poll. Really now, how reliable was it? Polls are fun for the pundits and journalists but anyone who really thinks they represent 300 million people are out to lunch. The only winners in any of these polls are the people who get paid to do them.

    September 26, 2011 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  24. Perceptions

    Romney – the Fiscal Conservative and Rubio- the Social Conservative.............that's the Ticket !

    Go Mitt ! Go Rubio !

    September 26, 2011 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  25. R

    Yes, personal qualities are important to some degree, but 49 percent of Americans would base their vote on that, as opposed to the issues? This is not American Idol – this is our future we are talking about.

    September 26, 2011 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
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