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. tvugly

    Really, America? Rick Perry? Really!? You already tried that. For 8 years! Remember Bush? The guy who ruined your country? Or did they actually convince you that all this is Obama's fault? Idiots.

    Democrats logic: "Obama won't stand up to the republicans/ Isn't progressive enough. So I'll probably vote republicans"

    Republican logic: "I can't remember anything past yesterday but that Perry seems comfortably familiar for some reason and black people are bad so I'll vote for him. Also, this socialism thing sounds bad. Don't know what it is. But it sounds bad."

    September 26, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    Either one can beat Obama. He has squandered his presidency with weath redistribution.

    September 26, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  3. A bag of hammers

    Perry is so dumb he makes dirt look smart

    September 26, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  4. Jared


    Ugh! Give me someone I can vote for without throwing up in my mouth! I can't vote for Obama because his policies are so anti-business that it is amazing we even have an economy left. And in the other corner we have doofasses that wouldn't do any better.

    September 26, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  5. Susan

    There is no way any republican is going to win over Obama, considering the choices. We the people are still not over 8 years of BUSH!

    September 26, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  6. Little Jimmy Truth

    Perry and any Republican can work hard. Obama couldn't handle so well.

    September 26, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  7. jeffbo

    If we end up with Perry and a rep congress/senate, we will be doomed.

    September 26, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  8. lauradet

    Can Perry beat Obama? Hell, No he can't!

    September 26, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    "But keep in mind, as always, that polls taken more than a year before the election have little or no predictive value.".... Nice. Relevant piece.

    September 26, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  10. branttravis

    Perry was leading when Obama was just learning the Quran.

    September 26, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  11. willard

    I'm belived that I said mock out of presdient obama so obama like too much problems with his job for 3 years

    September 26, 2011 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  12. Adam

    Neither actually has a chance at all, so its a moot point.

    September 26, 2011 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  13. ohWOW

    You idiotas are REALLY gonna nom another TX Gov....REALLY??? ok yeah good luck with that one

    September 26, 2011 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  14. Todd in DC

    The Ron Paul people need to get over themselves. The GOP nominee is not giong to be Ron Paul. He can't break double digits in polls, much less win.

    September 26, 2011 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  15. obamaSupporter

    For sure Perry is a stand up guy, something that Obama lacks. He knows that teabaggers do not like his stance on immigration but he is not backing away from it, and on top he tells them that they have no heart (wish he could say to them that they have no brain either). Regardelss of how you feel on this issue, who could stand up like this guy does. He's got some big balls and we got to respect that. Mittens Romeny is biggest flip-flopper/pathological liar.

    September 26, 2011 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  16. idiotsabound

    Rick "my brain is like a chicken pot pie" Perry? I am not surprised he gets the nod of the Republicans. Most Republicans are educated to about the 5th grade and can relate.

    September 26, 2011 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  17. rude

    I would vote republican next election IF they had a candidate instead of clowns.

    September 26, 2011 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  18. Truman Guy

    Obama/Hillary 2012.

    Obama would have to jetison Biden to pump up the ticket to make it more voter worthy. Obama"Biden or Obama/Hillary?
    Hillary could pull in alot of voters.

    September 26, 2011 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  19. mofo

    Hmm...should I vote for the middle aged white rich dude, the middle aged white rich woman or keep the current dude that at the time was so "cool" to elect. Politics hurt my brain.

    September 26, 2011 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  20. Scott

    Check out the "Non-White" figures. You can see where the lines are.

    September 26, 2011 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  21. Punch

    Don't believe "national polling." It's a scam, sham and fraud. Big media is counting on YOU to not use your brain.

    September 26, 2011 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  22. Dave

    Republicans better get used to the name "President Obama." You have five years left to go!

    September 26, 2011 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  23. Roscoe Chait

    It doesn't matter if they can beat Obama. The important thing is can they do anything for the country? Will they do anything besides shoot off their rich, ignornant mouths?

    September 26, 2011 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |

    If this is the best the GOP has to offer, they clearly dont want to win or cant win! ... AGAIN! I will hold a prayer session for Rick Perry since he will need it. And I am sorry for the Ron Paul fans, your in a cult. Lets face it. He isnt viable candidate either cause the guy still cant find the gold in Ft Knox. Someone should tell Mr Paul that we are not on the Gold Standard anymonre. As of now, the GOP is still taking job applications for SERIOUS CANDIDATES.

    September 26, 2011 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  25. Bryan

    Romney is a loser. This Mormon moron flip-flops on EVERY issue he's ever been presented with. He inherited money from his rich father, has two mansions, and is expanding one mansion. He got several deferments during the Vietnam war so that he could do church work in the oh so working conditions of....wait for it....Cannes, France. He does have perfect hair, though.

    And oh yeah, he's the genius who strapped the family dog to the top of the family car for a 12 hour trip to Canada. Such a smart man. Guess that was his job creation program for care for abused dogs.

    September 26, 2011 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
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