CNN Poll: Two-thirds of Republicans say minds are not made up
October 17th, 2011
12:14 PM ET
10 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. Steven Bannister

    I would prefer Ron Paul of course. But a Romney / Cain ticket COULD beat Obama and that would be something to see.

    October 17, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  2. Rodney

    Please ask Mr. Cain what will happen to businesses if his 9-9-9 plan is implemented and 90% of the people start buying used goods to lessen their tax burden. If Mr. Cain's plan works as weill as he says it will, won't many companies go out of business because there will be much less demand for new products?

    Only about 400 families control most of the wealth in the USA. Please ask Mr. Cain if he thinks those 400 families will buy enough new products and have enough used goods to sell to address the rest of America's needs (all to benefit the tax burden on the average American as is Mr. Cain's supposed purpose with the 9-9-9 plan).

    Ask Mr. Cain if this is what is meant by "trickle down economics." Used products trickle down from the rich to the poor masses, all for their benefit, of course, because it is tax beneficial. 0% capital gains for the rich, while the poor get "Used."

    I think I jjust came up with a slogan for Cain's plan – "The poor get USED!"

    October 17, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  3. Billdawg

    The strength that Herman Cain is showing with Tea party 39% shows clearly people are voting on the issues not race. Obama is running scared as well he should be. These liberal morons can't believe that a black man would talk about personal responsibility. He is a breath of fresh air. Obama will go down as the worst President since Jimmy Carter.

    October 17, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  4. vrsatile1

    @ 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.

    You are absolutely correct! At this point in the game its all about which network can spin it faster than the next.

    October 17, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  5. SPQR

    I may have missed this, but has Mr. Cain explained how he came up with his 9-9-9 numbers ?

    October 17, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  6. Cindy

    How can a poll that only polled people living in the "south" be very accurate when the rest of the country is not represented.

    October 17, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  7. mookie

    I guess we should believe CNN, the network that blatantly pulled online poll results when undesired candidates won, then went on air and use a rigged GOP poll to declare Romney and Perry victorious. Most of the people in this poll were contacted on land lines? I can't think of anyone that still has a land line. Any candidate that the media will stand behind has been bought and will act in the interest of powers that be.

    October 17, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    American people know what THEY want them to know. They are afraid Ron Paul will win, so better not to mention him on news. he is a threat to them. But guess what people finally start to open their eyes, they start to educate themselfs, dig on youtube for information. Apparently we wont find out the whole truth on cnn . Sad. Americans trust their gov waaaay too much, but im glad they start to wake up.

    October 17, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  9. Jack Tors

    It's romney and cain now? What happened to forcefeeding us romney and perry? Did he do something to upset CNN?

    October 17, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  10. Disgusted to the max

    Excuse me but the Republicans HAVE made up their minds...they're voting against BObama! Cain can't win and neither can Ron Paul, so unless you want another term of BO's stinking financial mess, better get on board. By the way, this poll completely sucks – 1,007 people do NOT a party make and then throw in the plus or minus 3% factor and you've got absolutely nothing. Cain has sucked the air out of the room temporarily because of his 9-9-9 plan, which everyone knows will do more to stifle the already hurting economy and nothing to create jobs. Let's not even mention that his plan will end the real estate deduction – get the picture yet? Cain's plan is catchy and that's all. People do not understand the extremely negative impact it will have on our already suffering economy and neither does Cain. Romney understands the implications of this childish and simple plan and why and who it will hurt, which is why he laughed the loudest at the debate. Read the experts opinions on it people and do your own personal math – can you afford to pay more for what you buy – food, medicine, gasoline – neither can I. AND all the OTHER TAXES you are currently paying for whatever you buy are NOT going away. It's a consumer tax people and you're the consumer!

    October 17, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  11. CRB

    Cain cannot be elected. He is a great man who has made great accomplishments – but great accomplishments don't make you presidential.

    And you can't slam the small people who are trying to climb up the ladder with insensitive after insensitive comment, and with a 9-9-9 plan that has the potential to stall their climb altogether.

    October 17, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  12. bluedogboy

    Congratulations Mr. President, on your re-election to a second term as our president.

    October 17, 2011 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  13. amac

    Isn't the Republicon Party supposed to declare whom its candidate for president will be and all the delegates fall into line supporting him? That's the way the Republicon Party operates in Congress.

    October 17, 2011 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  14. Mike_88

    Cain wants to add a new tax of 9%. This isn't altering an existing tax to 9%. Therefore we would have a new tax to pay of 9% and it will always increase given the opportunity will be taken by the government.

    Ron Paul is thinking, can you believe this.

    Cain was a banker. He is the banks pawn and he will be like Mike Singletary was for the 49ers. Be very afraid of this man.

    October 17, 2011 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    Sad – Romney as an independent, makes the most sense

    He has led, as a moderate Republican in a liberal state – implemented major healthcare reform – has exec experience – brilliant financial acumen and private industry experience to go with it.

    Yes he outsourced jobs, that isn't a shot against him, he did what was required to stay competitive in his environment and was wildly successful.

    Romney is trying to cater to the base and not alienate the general.

    I love Pauls integrity and his financial acumen but his age if nothing else will work against him.

    October 17, 2011 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  16. Jorge in Chicago

    Cain actually served in the Military. He is a vet and he is someone who pulled himself up by his bootstraps. His wife doesn't seem to be going around telling people she is not proud of America and isn't calling people "fat" and telling kids they are lazy and don't know how to eat.

    Yes i am trolling but as someone in Chicago I love everything Cain stands for as a candidate. I am not 100% sold on 9-9-9 but the more I read about it the more I realize it is a temporary measure and it will not exclude charitable donations. When you take away the taxes for many businesses the cost of goods should fall and should become cheaper. This means that it should offset a sales tax hike should and result in the average "joe" spending the same in most goods.

    He is inexperienced... but so was Obama. Maybe what we need is common sense and not book smarts.

    October 17, 2011 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  17. dina

    All candidates are not equal to calling themselves presidential material. They are only seeking power and the office, not helping bring this country back to what it was before the Bushes brought it down with no taxes for the rich and unecessary wars. Look behnd the candidates running to see where they get their money and it will be disgusting how controlled they are by elements we are not even aware of in this election. We don't vote for president. Money does.

    October 17, 2011 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  18. DCB

    The GOP is backing the wrong Mormon. Huntsman is (with the possible exception of Gingrich, who has too much baggage in other areas) really the only one with the experience to step comfortably into the job from day one. And the only one I see on that stage with the ability to attract the independent vote.

    October 17, 2011 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  19. harry

    Why anyone would want to put a Rebumlicken back in the white house. Obama tries to fix the mess he stepped into from the last batch of big business whores and they don't even try to fix things. They block what he tries to do and blame him for their mess. They truly have no interest helping the people, just the businesses they chase after. If the rebumlickens get back in, you better buy some KY cause you know where you'll be taking it for +he next 4 years.

    October 17, 2011 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  20. Joe Smith

    I am a Republican and my mind is made up -- ABR for Anyone But Romeny! Can't stand his lack of principles

    October 17, 2011 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  21. MTATL67

    If Republicans and the extremist group called the Tea party whole platform is based on "fiscal responsiblity" ie cut spending and now increase in taxes then why in the world are they support the pizza tax plan of Mr. Cain. I had to laugh out loud when I read that Bachmann took in $4M but spent $6M and Santorum campaign took in $704,199 but spent more than that. As the longest serving Governor of Texas Mr. Perry spent and borrowed until his states debt is at approx $27B.

    October 17, 2011 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  22. DN

    So, Republicans like a candidate who says that if you are unemployed, it's your own fault? That is definitely a different answer to our economic woes, but just not one that's likely to catch on in the campaign trail.

    October 17, 2011 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  23. Recovering Republican

    This proves that America is serious about saying "NO!" to New Texans. The last Texan president inherited and destroyed a booming economy, launched more wars than he could count (whoa, maybe that was the reason), and he single handedly destroyed America's positive image abroad via his ignorant arrogance. Romney and Cain will do just fine as the face of the new GOP. The Texas Talking Head is going to just have to go home. Sorry Texas, your baggage doesn't get to leave Austin this time.

    October 17, 2011 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  24. carlos

    I just don't believe those CNN polls. How can these polls have credibility when they neglected their own ones when show RON PAUL winning by thousands of voters? CNN PULLED OUT ITS OWN ONLINE POLL THE SAME DAY AFTER THE DEBATE BECAUSE RON PAUL WON BY MORE THAN THOUSANDS OF VOTES, SAME CASE HEPPENED WITH FOX. They try to manipulate people showing polls with just 35 people, but hide those real online polls with THOUSANDS OF VOTES when they show that THEIR candidates (Rommey, Cain, Perry) lose.

    Im voting for the 0-0-0 plan.

    Zero FED

    Zero IRS
    Zero WAR

    Ron Paul 2012!

    October 17, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  25. Recovering Republican

    Not that any of this matters. Obama is still going to win in a landslide. Not because he is a good President, but because the GOP's scare tactics just do not work any more. We trusted the GOP, and all we got for it was Cheney and Haliburton.

    October 17, 2011 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
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