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.


Cain upsets Perry as winner of Florida straw poll

Romney uses Michigan speech to challenge Obama

Perry casts Romney as 'slick' at Florida GOP breakfast

Santorum: 'I condemn' booing of gay soldier, didn't hear it

Filed under: 2012 • CNN poll • Mitt Romney • Polls • Rick Perry
soundoff (187 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    After what the country been thru ,obama is still unbeatable ? This is an insult to the American voters !!

    September 26, 2011 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  2. Phattee

    Teabaggers! Ready to march around with your "Tea Party for Romney" signs?

    September 26, 2011 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  3. Liz

    The Republicans, angry with a liberal president shoving healthcare and global warming drivel down their throats, are pushing for Mitt Romney to be president? Perhaps due to the (R) next to his name, they forgot that he led the drive for socializing medicine in the state he governed and is a proponent of global warming. In essense, a liberal. Their other option, Perry, is an admittedly "less compassionate" version of George Bush, who left office with approval ratings in the 20s. Nice work, GOP.

    September 26, 2011 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  4. Facepalm28

    More like Obama 54% – Perry 45%. Perry's strategy of inciting the Tea Party mob is never going to fly with an independent general electorate. Perry being nominated would be the best thing to happen to the country; it's the only surefire way to ensure Obama wins and the Tea Party gets kicked out of the House. Then maybe we can at least stop defaulting and nearly shutting down over every last Tea Party hostage issue.

    September 26, 2011 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  5. Linda

    In the last debate when Perry tried to explain Romneys' flip flops and stumbled badly I almost felt sorry for him. I said almost. Incredible that after that some people still see Perry as President. Unbelievable!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 26, 2011 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  6. remorse 2

    After almost 4 years of high unemployment, sick economy,high gas prices,high poverty, high home foreclosure,etc obama is unbeatable ? This is an insult to the intellegence of the American people !!

    September 26, 2011 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  7. badmoonrising

    The only candidate who will offer change and turn America back onto a road to prosperity and liberty is Dr. Ron Paul. Obama, Perry, Romney, all are one in the same. Its high time Americans got it that all this partisan bickering is doing nothing but playing right into the politicians' hands.

    September 26, 2011 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  8. ian

    if anything will ensure democratic success, it is perry as the republican candidate. please dear god, let perry be the candidate!!!! i am praying for his success in the rep. primaries! : )

    September 26, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  9. Retired Army in San Antonio

    Romney/Rubio in 2012?

    Seriously (LMAO) ?!?!?!?!?

    September 26, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    You poor Perry Fools....dream ON....he's a fraud seeking applause. And now he's bringing it to the masses......

    September 26, 2011 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  11. Recovering Republican

    Perry may lack intelligence, intuition, ability, and integrity, however, he does have excellent hair, and he does pray publicly. Sounds like Bushy the Sequel. Maybe then we will finally get a chance to invade Pakistan, Chile, and New Zealand. All Conservatives know that those New Zealanders hate the American way, and they hate baseball.

    September 26, 2011 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Snap Out of it.....Short Term Memory Americans.....Perry = "W" = More Misery.

    September 26, 2011 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  13. cm

    Cnn is Palin in the race, she can fool you white people.But black are not as stupid you one claims.
    So forget palin like most blacks have already done so.Perry can not even look at people when he is taking, you know why; HE CAN'T BE TRUSTED.I saw this from the day he stepped on stage. Freakin Crook. I also want to add you looks like a waxed firgure, not a human being.

    September 26, 2011 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  14. Recovering Republican

    The Perry debate with Obama should be hillarious. After Obama lays out economic and socio-political plans for the planet, Perry will explain how tax cuts cure cancer and promote good health in kittens. I never thought the GOP could find someone more hollow than Palin, but this just goes to show how one should never underestimate the GOP's ability for stupidity in the name of righteousness.

    September 26, 2011 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  15. AntiFringe

    If you don't like what you see in the latest poll, there will always be another one. Do you wanna see some significant changes in the present GOP field?.............Lie to your next poll taker. They'll be falling over themselves to be that person.

    September 26, 2011 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  16. lloyd roberts

    Did someone here mention Marc Rubio. He's a kid that comes form a certain Republican district, Cuban-Americans from Miami, who really have no clue what a true conservative republican is. They are republican only because they believe a democrat, (Kennedy), messed up the attempt on Castro's life. I lived in Miami for many years and can tell you that not one of them, if Castro was overthrown, would go back there. They are one issue voters and for Marc Rubio to really understand the republican party of Eisenhower, Rockefeller, Weld, Buckley is useless. This group has no clue about American conservatism, just a carribean slant on dictatorship government

    September 26, 2011 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  17. JJ

    I'm calling it right now, Chris Christie will enter the race in two weeks, win the nomination, take Rubio as his running mate, and win the 2012 election. I'll put $50 on this. Any takers?

    September 26, 2011 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  18. hongli

    John please check your underpants because you were Day-Dreaming - go get a shower and some body- wash and don't forget to brush your teeth.

    September 26, 2011 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  19. Ben

    Who in the world wants Obama as president? What in the world has he done that is positive? Other than pretend to kill Bin Laden?

    September 26, 2011 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  20. drummerjoe

    No, he can't. Because a majority of independents will not vote for him.

    September 26, 2011 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  21. Rick McDaniel

    The media favors Democrats, and Romney is a Dem wearing a GOP label, so the media is promoting Romney, in spite of the fact he really is not, the front runner.

    September 26, 2011 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  22. Perry 2012

    Yes. 100 percent..Obama cannot win in 2012..FAILED completely..

    September 26, 2011 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  23. mghughett

    Whoa... check out pages 9-10 of the poll the results of Obama vs each candidate... says a different story.

    September 26, 2011 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  24. Beverly - NYC

    Poor Mittens, you gotta feel for the guy. Here he's waited patiently for his turn at the big seat, while his fickle party continues to look for the bigger better deal. Poor Mitt maybe you should consider a flip flop on religion and become a southern Baptist then go back to being a Mormon. While Republicans are loathed to say it, they just don't trust your Big Love, Sister Wives religion. Since your party loathes education even more the masses will not educate themselves on the various sects. Oh I'm sure they will push other reasons not to fully support your candidacy if you make it too the end. Make no mistake the real reason will be your're not a white Southern Christian in Cowboy boots.

    September 26, 2011 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  25. judith

    All of these GOP candidates are badly flawed. Considering the terrible state of the economy and the constant bashing of Obama by the tea-party extremists, he continues to hold his own. He will be reelected because the GOP has no ideas and no decent candidates.

    September 26, 2011 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8