CNN Poll: Two-thirds of Republicans say minds are not made up
October 17th, 2011
12:14 PM ET
9 years ago

CNN Poll: Two-thirds of Republicans say minds are not made up

Las Vegas, Nevada (CNN) - One day before a CNN Western Republican presidential debate, a new national survey indicates that Mitt Romney and Herman Cain are essentially tied for the lead in the race for the GOP nomination, with Rick Perry dropping to a distant third.

But according to the CNN/ORC International Poll released Monday, only one third of Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP say their minds are made up.

See full results (PDF)

Programming note: GOP presidential candidates next face off at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday, October 18, in the CNN Western Republican Presidential Debate in Las Vegas, Nevada. Submit your questions for the debate here.

Twenty-six percent say they are likely to support Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who's making his second bid for the White House, with Cain, the former Godfather's Pizza CEO and radio talk show host, at 25%. Romney's one point margin is well within the poll's sampling error. Cain has seen his support nearly triple, from 9% in September to 25%, while Romney's edged up four points.

According to the poll, Texas Gov. Rick Perry's at 13%. Perry quickly surged to the top of the national polls after he launched his campaign on August 13. But thanks to an uneven debate performance in late September, a distant showing at a much watched straw poll in Florida two days later, and constant attacks on his stance on illegal immigration and Social Security by the other candidates, Perry has faded in the polls. His strength has been cut in half since September in CNN polling.

"Republicans who support the tea party movement love Herman Cain - he gets support from 39% of them, more than double the number who support Mitt Romney," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Republicans who say they are nuetral toward the tea party back Romney by roughly the same margin – 35% of them favor Romney compared to just 14% for Cain."

The survey indicates that 9% back Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who's making his third bid for the presidency, with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 8%, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota at 6%, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania at 2%, and former Utah Gov. and ambassador to China Jon Huntsman at 1%.

"There has been little change for the candidates in single digits since September - just two- to three-point swings for Paul and Gingrich and little or no change for Bachmann, Santorum and Huntsman," adds Holland.

According to the poll, only one third of Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP say they will definitely support the candidate they are currently backing, with two thirds saying they may change their minds.

"With only 33% of all Republicans saying that their minds are made up, it's far too early to say the race is over, or even that is has boiled down to a mano-a-mano fight between Romney and Cain," says Holland.

The survey indicates that most Republicans say they are satisfied with the field of GOP candidates still in the race, although only one in five describe themselves as very satisfied. Republicans who back the tea party are more satisfied with the field of candidates than Republicans who are neutral toward the tea party.

Is the GOP nomination worth fighting for?

"Most definitely. There is a big 'enthusiasm gap' between Republicans and Democrats that, if it persists, may boost the eventually GOP nominee's chances in 2012," says Holland.

Two thirds of all registered Republicans say they are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting next year, compared to less than half of all Democrats. In the 2008 election cycle, the Democrats were more enthusiastic that then GOPers, a major advantage that helped elect then Sen. Barack Obama.

Some of the current enthusiasm gap is likely due to the fact that the Republicans are in the middle of a classic battle for their party's nomination while Democrats, for now, have nothing to pay attention to. But if that gap persists once the primary season is over, Obama will have a more difficult road back to the White House. For the record, Democrats seem happy with Obama - eight in ten want to see the party re-nominate the President, his highest number on that measure since June.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from October 14-16, with 1,007 adults, including 416 Republicans and independents who lean toward the GOP, questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points with a sampling error of five percentage points for questions asked only of Republicans.

–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story.

Also see:

CNN Poll of Polls: Romney and Cain battle for top spot

New national poll shows Cain at top

Poll: GOP shakeup in South Carolina

Filed under: 2012 • CNN/ORC International poll • Republicans
soundoff (225 Responses)
  1. Jilli

    Well, when your choices are a phony flip-flopper (romney), a fraud (perry) and an ignoramous (cain) I'd have to agree it'd be tough to decide which loser to choose.

    October 17, 2011 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    I read this poll differently. Two thirds of Republicans do have their minds made up that they are not voting for Romney.

    October 17, 2011 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  3. portland tony

    Minds made up.....Well, 2/3's of the Republicans I know, don't have a mind to make ^.

    October 17, 2011 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  4. king

    hey these repugs are destine to bring the country back to where the dem congress took over in 2007 when the repugs, deregulation, tax cut for the rich nearly destroyed this country for the 6 years they ran congress and the presidency. this trickle down austerity movement with the repugs and tea baggers are slowly sucking the blood out of the american economy for the last 11 years. the dems seems powerless to stop it because they're always seems to be a blue dog democrat in the midst that is always killing the dems agender of progression. lesson when the repugs took over they inherited a budget surplus and a projected 8 trillion budget gain in 10 years. they took over and started their trickle down programs fighting 2 wars without paying for it. then on top of that implemented tax cuts that they sware will boast jobs creation. clinton policies created 23 million jobs, the repugs trickle down policies created 3 million jobs in 8 years and a finacial disaster only surpassed by the great depression. now they want to go back to where they left off in 2007 when they took the economy to hell the same year dems took congress from them.

    October 17, 2011 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  5. vet in texas

    America, do not vote for any pledge signers, if you think it's OK to sign a pledge after taking the only important pledge, then you will be fine if Obama had signed a pledge by Jessie Jackson, signed a pledge by Louis Farrakhan, or signed a pledge by Cornell West.........if your fine with that, then you'll be fine with all of these people who have signed pledges.

    PS, Huntsman hasn't signed any pledges!

    October 17, 2011 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    The circus has come to town.....clowns on parade!!! The only thing the GOP is doing in DC is trying to ban abortion...that is what they have been working on. Yes...let's send one of these clowns to be 'Top Clown' and see if things get any better!!!
    Obama 2012

    October 17, 2011 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  7. Cari

    2/3's of Republicans will vote for Ron Paul, theres no use leaving him out when he's winning every straw poll there is =)

    October 17, 2011 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  8. swolfson929

    Bring in the clowns!! The circus is coming!! The only thing the GOP is doing in DC is trying to stop abortion. That is what they have been working on. Let's vote in one of these clowns as 'Top Clown' and see if it gets better!!!!!
    Obama 2012

    October 17, 2011 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  9. Jake

    and they are going with Palin or Christie!

    October 17, 2011 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  10. Veritas

    Which of the evil clowns to choose?

    October 17, 2011 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  11. Blastmasterx

    Bwahahahaha!! This is breaking news?!?!

    October 17, 2011 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  12. clifffromparma

    Why is this breaking news ? Why is this news at all ?

    October 17, 2011 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  13. Lynda/Minnesota

    "For the record, Democrats seem happy with Obama – eight in ten want to see the party re-nominate the President, his highest number on that measure since June."

    And ... yet ... only 1/3 of Republicans have a clear indication of who they will nominate, but are ... nonetheless ... enthusiastic with their choice - or lack thereof? Whatever.

    October 17, 2011 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  14. Patrick Lewis

    I can NOT see Cain getting the republican nod. It's one thing to speak to the voter, but you can't campaign state to state with no campaign staff. You also can't win with a message that is full of holes and wishful thinking. If Cain is the nominee, the GOP will fall and he will drag others down with him.

    October 17, 2011 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  15. A Repulbican

    We're toast!

    October 17, 2011 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  16. trixen

    @Jilli Well, I think just about anything has to be better than the status quo at the moment.

    October 17, 2011 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  17. namethename

    I am voting for Obama 2012 !
    I also invest my money with Madoff. I know he is in jail, but I still believe him.

    October 17, 2011 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  18. vic , nashville ,tn

    CNN actually all the other polls shows Herman Cain in the top

    October 17, 2011 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  19. ton

    Well considering these same "polls" had Perry in the lead when he wasn't and Ron Paul neglected when he was, I can't take these polls seriously. It seems to be the media's way of telling us who they think we should vote for instead of voters thinking for themselves.

    October 17, 2011 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    This election isn't for over a year, can we focus on the problems facing the country and how we can fix, or start to fix, them instead of fixing them in over a year?

    October 17, 2011 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  21. arturo ferrer

    No wonder Obama loves to be the underdog against whoever the Opposition may put up because he can easily
    defeat 'em in the polls

    October 17, 2011 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  22. coy4one

    This is a lousy-written article! In fact, it appears that the pole questions are geared toward specific outcome and not neutral. In fact, it's rather stupid!

    October 17, 2011 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  23. Eliud

    Voting for Ron Paul all the way!!!

    October 17, 2011 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  24. brian

    Of course they have not made their mind up yet – the election is over a year away still! I would hope they haven't made their mind up yet.

    October 17, 2011 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  25. Darth Vadik, CA

    This is a direct reflection of how much the GOP does not like Romney...

    ...tho only reason he even ties Cain is because a lot of Republicans believe that he is the only one who can beat Obama...

    ...Republicans also believe that the world is 6000 years old too, so fairy tales are real to them...

    ...I still say Perry will be their nominee...

    October 17, 2011 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
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