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. Jeff

    The Republicans won't win at al no matter who they put up therel. This election will solely be about the have's vs. the have not's. The Republcians stand for the rich and their Bush tax cuts and the Democrats stand for the working class.

    September 26, 2011 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  2. LV

    Sure he can. If Obama with nearly zero practical experience can win, and people can think $arah is good, ANYONE could win. His biggest strength is that he holds his ground. If he keeps doing that, he has a good shot.

    September 26, 2011 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  3. keith beard

    The reason CNN wants Perry to run is the same reason Perry hesitated about getting in the race in the first place. He has a lot of skeletons. The reason they don't give Herman Cain hardly any attention, White Republicans along with hard working African Americans would vote for him. He is more qualified now than Obama was when he ran, he has manage to run not being a lawyer or/and a back stabbing career politician . Plus CNN doesn't have dirt on him.

    September 26, 2011 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  4. FauxNewz

    Most of you have never met a person more conservative than I am, and I won't vote for Perry since he gave in-state tuition to students who aren't even citizens.

    September 26, 2011 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  5. NoGr8rH8r

    Currently the GOP doesn't have anyone in their stable that can beat Obama. (I'd vote for Giuliani if he was up there)

    September 26, 2011 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  6. Weemees

    Obama in 2012! By far the best choice we have.

    September 26, 2011 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  7. Frank138

    This (CNN) poll makes the republican choice clear: Nominate Romney simply because he can win. With the economy and jobs the real issue, Obama cannot win vs Romney. Not even the Obama-worshipping national media can overcome the fact that by November 2012 Obama will have flatly failed to do what he promised the American people he would do, if only we would elect him.

    September 26, 2011 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  8. nodule

    If Rick Perry wins I am moving out of this country and watching it burn from afar. He will destroy this country because he has absolutely ZERO idea what he's doing.

    September 26, 2011 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  9. Reggie1971

    It seems a great many of my fellow Republicans are determined to stay on a kamikaze mission. It is unbelievable that they think nominating a less articulate version of George W. Bush is a strategy for success. Romney proposes a conservative agenda, is smart, can think on his feet, has business and executive experience, and is an excellent debator. But no, no matter how abysmal the man speaks, no matter how much he insults the base implying them to be racist, and outright calling them heartless....we just gotta support Governor Goodhair.....come hell or high water.

    September 26, 2011 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  10. beckster

    Only Ron Paul can save us now from Obuma and the rest of the Republican re-treads. Paul/Cain is my vote.

    September 26, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  11. Common Blue Collar Worker in Pittsburgh

    Mickey Mouse would be a better choice than Barry H. O. at this point. Fact.

    September 26, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  12. CaliforniaBC

    Perry, if he is the gop/tp choice, will have a tough time in a general election given his far-right leanings that will not just go away. He's been too vocal about them and that will scare intelligent independents.

    His employment "success" will also be put to the test as his state's budget begins dealing with no federal stimulus to help balance it out and he sees large government job losses. I believe the estimate is about 110,000 jobs will be on the chopping block. How will that look for mr perry?

    September 26, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  13. dum....ask.............

    Can the nation tolerate another Texan in the White house?

    uh.....maybe not

    September 26, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  14. Ben Alcobra

    Of course Perry is tops in the GOP. He's the Republican presidential paradigm since Bush sr: an invisible president, whose policy is determined and implemented by other power brokers in his administration. Perry himself is actually as irrelevant as Bush sr and jr. Perry's vice president and the vice president's staff are the ones to watch if you want to see how the GOP is actually going to run things with Perry as president. Hey, look on the bright side. In Obama's administration, no one is setting and implementing policy. Someone who actually does something might be better than nothing.

    September 26, 2011 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  15. Lonewolf777

    Obama will be re-elected. A majority of Americans may disapprove of his performance, but that doesn't mean they want to fire him. Most Americans are quite aware of the mess Bush/Cheney left us with and that it may take a while to undo the damage. Giving the power back to the GOP would simply be suicidal.

    September 26, 2011 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  16. don

    Vote Republican. Let those that caused the mess clean it up!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 26, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  17. Vote None of the Above

    Vote None of the Above.
    Interesting game politics.
    The only winning not to play the game.

    September 26, 2011 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  18. 27Reasons

    You poll a mere 1010 random people internationally, and we're supposed to believe the results mean something..... Shame on you CNN for attempting to pass a completely meaningless sample of opinions as news! What a joke!

    September 26, 2011 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  19. Anomic Office Drone

    Perry leading the Republican primary in the polls is further proof that the closed primaries serve only to produce the two worst candidates.

    September 26, 2011 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  20. sparky91

    Why can't the GOP produce any candidates I can get behind! I wouldn't vote for any of these guys! (or gals). And I will NEVER vote for Obama, so I guess it's Mickey Mouse next year. Sad part is, can't stand Obama, terrible president, but I would "trust" him more than I would any of those whacky candidates the GOP is offering up. Time to move.

    September 26, 2011 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  21. Jay Kay, Minneapolis

    It pleases me to see Bachmann crashing and burning. She is nothing short of an embarrassment.

    September 26, 2011 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  22. mb2010a

    Perry doesn't stand a chance against Obama.

    September 26, 2011 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  23. DNadeau

    Please show me a poll thats not biased and spun, Perry is no top contender... he's the Jewish Media Mafia's top contender..

    September 26, 2011 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  24. UsaGod help us

    I don't think obama would allow a 30 y/o man without medical insurance to die.. Some Gop supports have become animals in the jungle..

    September 26, 2011 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  25. David

    I'm voting for Ron Paul. But if Perry makes it, I'll vote Obama over him. I don't really see a difference in the tow, other than race, and to me, that doesn't matter.

    September 26, 2011 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
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