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

    We need leadership not another rich boy contest. It seems who has the most money now days wins this is AMERICA we can not be bought anymore.

    September 26, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  2. diridi

    Perry is an idiot, if you do not know, it is your karma....that's it....

    September 26, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  3. demsRdumb

    Obama's saving grace may be that half the country is politically retarded. Unemployment is 9%, the debt is 15 trillion, Obamacare is a disaster, but I'll vote for Obama because of personal qualities–he's a good father and likes basketball! ROTFL!

    September 26, 2011 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  4. mikle

    Obama the worse choice ever.Where is YES WE CAN, WHERE is CHANGE, JOBS, GITMO. Just bla-bla-blqa.

    September 26, 2011 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  5. Victor

    CNN, why did you not ask about Gary Johnson in your poll? On what basis is it fair to keep polling Huntsman and not Johnson? Especially given that most people said he got in the most notable line in the debate, even if it was a joke. I would have liked to have seen if he got a bounce out of it, but you didn't even ask! I think this is a very poor show on your part.

    September 26, 2011 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  6. sector7

    These polls, although labeled scientific due to their methodology, are biased and a poor indicator due to small sample sizes. To buy into them is to be misled.

    September 26, 2011 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  7. jb

    No, Obama would win in a landslide.

    September 26, 2011 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  8. dinak

    We want Christie, not either one of those morons.

    September 26, 2011 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  9. jb

    There are still Log Cabin Republicans? – You guys are in so much denial!

    September 26, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  10. P.G

    Perry – Just another phoney with Reagan's hair and Bush's smirk. Where's the substance? Huntsman 2012

    September 26, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  11. MAAndrews

    Mitt Romney is the best choice for the USA, Perry has totally lost his perspective on Illegal Immigration and been brainwashed by La Raza.
    Obama's days are numbered. 2012 can't get here soon enough!

    September 26, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  12. GOP Failed America

    Romney might be the strongest candidate against Obama but will the Holly Roller RIght vote for a Mormon?

    September 26, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  13. Indy

    Of course Romney polls better to beat Obama, Perry is new to the game and Romney has made a career out of running for President. The only person that has run longer then Romney is Donald Trump who has said for the past twenty years he is thinking of running. Romney is not employable in the private sector so he might as well get beat again for the highest job in the land, nothing else for him to do, no more companies to dismantle and he has already sent all the jobs out of the country.

    September 26, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  14. Drogo, who bit the dust

    Yep, a Mormon and a Cuban just what the country needs at this time.

    September 26, 2011 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  15. us1776

    Perry cannot even beat Cain in Florida !!

    Obama will mop the floor with him.

    Obama/Biden 2012 + NO TEA = America can move forward.

    September 26, 2011 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  16. coy4one

    A Perry win will make Gerorge W. Bush seem like the best President ever!! Want that?

    September 26, 2011 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  17. clarke

    Well as we head into October, I wnder who will be flavor of the month. Let us see who CNN picks

    September 26, 2011 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  18. Ted Ryder

    It doesn't matter. Automation is killing off jobs left and right. It use to be that a man who owned a company had to hire 100 people to get the job done. Now he hires just 10 and keeps all the profits. That is what is fundamentally wrong with capitalism in a technology based society.

    September 26, 2011 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  19. coy4one

    Does not matter who is President! It's Congress that will make any President rendered "useless!"

    September 26, 2011 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  20. chris

    real question is will Obama continue to beat himself. he's got the advantage in the media, but he also has all those Obama sanctions against the economy.

    September 26, 2011 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  21. Marie MD

    Has anyone from the teabagging or media crowd asked these loser for their birth certificates. I would like for everyone of them to show where they were born and make sure there's at least one witness to the birth and that they swear on that used up bible of theirs that this is truth so help me "their god".
    He is nowhere near any position right now but let's start with rubio and proceed to the mitt whose father was born in Mexico after his grandfather moved there so he could marry all the women he wanted and spawn like a rabbit.

    September 26, 2011 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  22. PAPilot

    My dead grandmother could beat Obama if we could only get her on the ballot. At this point, not having a president is better than the one we have.

    September 26, 2011 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  23. ck1721

    Sampling error of +/- 3% means that Romney, Paul, Perry, Cain could beat Obama. As more people are exposed to Cain and Paul, watch for their support to continue to rise as Obama's continues to fall.

    September 26, 2011 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  24. Brett 4Liberty

    Ron Paul is the people's candidate. The grassroots support him and the numbers only grow.

    All the other campaigns are necrotic, propped up by the establishment through the media.

    Ron Paul 2012

    September 26, 2011 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  25. Paul

    The GOP will win it for Obama. Their hate mongering is too obvious!

    September 26, 2011 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
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