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. bluedogboy

    It's baffling to me that Jon Hunstman still cannot gain any traction. He is clearly the smartest and most sophisticated of all the candidates.

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

    Democrats would LOVE the used car salesmen Perry OR Romney to get the nomination, because their waffling, their lack of substance versus "say anything to sell ya'!" approach, will get eaten alive by Obama. If Repubs were smart enough to nominate either Ron Paul or Cain - agree or disagree with either of them, but they have clear perspectives and stand by them - and Obama could be in trouble come 2008.

    September 26, 2011 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  3. Andrew

    Romney/Cain That is an invincible ticket!

    September 26, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  4. MG

    Would love to know who the press is polling on these. It's bad enough that we watch Perry bomb debates... But if Bachman is making you look like a fool, how can you still be in 1st place? Perhaps if people focused less on Romney and Perry, one of the other candidates who 'can't win' according to the media, might actually have a chance.

    September 26, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  5. Sean Russell

    Wow, decisions, decisions, decisions. They have quite choice to make. Governor Flip-Flop or Governor Ordained by God.

    Make it easier and vote for the pizza guy.

    September 26, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  6. pityperryparty

    Perry is a joke. His party held him up to be the Messiah, then couldn't believe he did not measure up. They are desperate. Put in your resume' now. If you are white, older, evengelical, and won't pay a nickle to help anyone but yourself, you qualify.

    September 26, 2011 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  7. dont be a sucker


    Bachman has won a straw poll
    Cain just won Florida straw poll
    Ron Paul has won 3 out of the last 5 straw polls

    Perry haven't Romney won any straw polls-Buuuuut-They're still the "Top Tier' who the race is between ? ? ?

    Pay attention folks...The Establishment 'Republi-Crats' know who they want the race to be between, and they're using the
    Liar-Stream-Media to manipulate your opinion....Don't Let Them Do It

    I'm voting Ron Paul....And I ask that you vote ANYONE other than The Establishment goons...It's the only way we can get this country where it needs to be

    September 26, 2011 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  8. WilliamDB

    No way will Perry beat Obama. Nobody wants another GW Bush, other than the south and ultra-conservative states in the north like Nebraska.

    September 26, 2011 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  9. EconProf

    Everytime I want to feel smarter about myself I log on to this site and read the Democrats'/Obamabots' comments. How very amusing. Still blaming Bush I see. Great strategy, stick with that! Hilarious. Talk about herd-followers who can do nothing but repeat slogans, mantras and talking points! If it were Republican ideology on display I would have thought I logged onto Fox News! Original thought anyone????
    Truth is, Obama is done. Its just a matter of which flawed Republican is going to oust him. Because what you socialists keep ignoring is that this election will be JUST LIKE the last: a referendum on the failed policies of the party currently occupying the WH. Your guy and your ideology predictably failed. MAde things worse. Get over it.

    September 26, 2011 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  10. Revolt

    CNN, why do you continue ignoring & hiding the information about the Wall Street protesters? Why are you trying to hide the Revolution? Why does BBC have news & video of Americas Revolution, but you don't? And why do you & FOX news continue shoving the political candidates you want down our throats? You people keep talking about Romney & Perry, but what about Ron Paul? The only human being among them all? CNN, I think I'm gonna go ahead & make this more public than you would want. I think that I'm going to sue you. And so will the thousands of other people that stand behind me & more importantly America. CNN, brace yourselves for your demise.

    September 26, 2011 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  11. JackT

    Perry is an ILLEGAL ALIEN lover. He would be a BAD President. But, we NEVER get a good candidate to vote for. We ALWAYS have to vote for the lesser of two evils.

    I am SOO anti Obama, that my eyes bleed. BUT, if Perry is the GOP candidate, I will sit out this election and not vote at all. Getting rid of ILLEGAL ALIENS is my number one issue. Above the Economy and all else.

    September 26, 2011 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  12. kenneth

    Obama will win in november 2012 because americans will wakeup from their collective amnesia and realise who caused this economic depression.

    September 26, 2011 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  13. KellyinBoston

    Let me start by saying that I don't lean republican. Romney and Gingrich are the only two candidates of this field that I could consider–The others are certifiable idiots. I wonder if Romney could win, though. There is a lot of anti-Mormon bias in certain western states that are critical to republican wins (e.g., Colorado, Arizona, Montana). Clearly, Romney won't win Massachusetts (he ignored the Commonwealth while trying to promote himself as a presidential candidate during his single term as governor), but that's no big loss for a republican candidate. If Romeny wins the nomination, it will really come down to Michigan, Ohio, and Florida–We'll see how things go. Its going to be close.

    September 26, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  14. PackersFans

    Perry cannot beat Obama ,No way Who he s???? Invade late run for Pres.??? Vote for Mitt Romney can beat Obama for positive!!! Perry is just actior for vote by Christian?? Christian must carefully right guy .. Pray ask God who you should vote right a persoin can save America. Obama still felll down America and weakness history, why he should stay two term? Do not vote Obama!!

    September 26, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  15. obsthetimes

    hopefully the tone deaf republicans will lose. All they want to do is wage more wars and discuss abortion endlessly. People like Lindsey Graham won't be satisfied until they've invaded at least another 10 countries, wasting trillions and hurting US soldiers in the process. Now we have another pretender to the throne in Perry, droning the same George Bush message of social conservation and strong defense. Please! do something to develop the country.

    September 26, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  16. petemg

    The GOP needs to find their top, let us say four people to debate. The ones left should then back those. The GOP needs to unite for strength. And they also need to grow up and present ideas to create a better government. We have too many people in the debate with more to enter. Come on people swallow your pride you are going against a common enemy. Also news media we need to hear more from Herman Cain. Is the news media not allowing him to be heard because you do not want to have another "Black" man lead the country. I hate that word black because there should be no discrimination for we are all part of this country. Get your fellow Republicans together with the Democrats to find common ground and get things done. As it is you are known as a "Do nothing Congress" because Obama wants to have the blame game. Remember last fall the Republicans were going get into office so you could rid the country from Obama care.

    September 26, 2011 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  17. yasure

    The rednecks backing the GOP are very vocal but small in numbers. There isn't enough hicks or biblethumpers to beat Mr. Obama, wishful thinking banjo country...

    September 26, 2011 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  18. Dan

    Well Obama is a joke, he is the clown. he ia taking this great nation to the point of no return. The problem with most of the people is that you may be a good debator or a smooth talker like Obama, what good did it do. Its in the actions and results. Personally anyone in the Republican squad now is 100 percent better that the clown in the office now.

    September 26, 2011 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  19. JackT

    I would vote for Donald Trump IN A HEARTBEAT!

    September 26, 2011 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  20. bell

    I am almost sure those guys cant beat him. Yes, I am almost sure of that. They are not smart enough.

    September 26, 2011 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  21. what's up

    I have a floater that will beat Obama.

    September 26, 2011 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  22. Jack from Illinois

    Oh, Republicans, DO run Perry for President. DO nominate him.

    The only thing you could do better for your country would be to run Michelle Bachmann for Prez.

    September 26, 2011 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  23. getreal

    All this is good for a laugh but what these clowns have done to this country is no laughing matter and the sane and suffering American people ARE NOT going to stand for it! Obama/Biden will win 2012

    September 26, 2011 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  24. Whywhy

    For sure Obama will get re-elected with these two weirdos.

    September 26, 2011 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  25. Sean Russell

    You wonder if there's some people in Florida who are wondering where their pizza is, after voting for Herman Cain yesterday?

    September 26, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
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