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. Peter L.

    I'm one of those Republicans ! Yes I am voting for Ron Paul... "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 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  2. GL Lee

    @Boomer in Mo
    You mean that the 50% of Americans that have no tax burden will have to pay something? You're right. It's time the leeches paid their own way, and of course that doesn't include people that REALLY need it. Just the cellphone carrying, spinner rim having, cable TV watching, deciding between their XBox and their PS3 while complaining about the unfairness of this country will have to pay...soon.

    CAIN IN 2012

    October 17, 2011 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  3. FactCheck

    Romney is a progressive, you liberals should love him.

    You have a small typo in that statement, it should read "you corporations should love him".

    October 17, 2011 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  4. Reality Check

    The real news here is how few people actually read CNN articles.

    Apparently 90% of the readers of CNN come from the one third of the Democratic Party which is the left wing fringe.

    The opinions expressed on this blog are so extreme, and so devoid of intellectual content, they make the Occupy Wall Street crowd look like conservatives and rocket scientists.

    October 17, 2011 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  5. FactCheck

    Cain actually served in the Military. He is a vet and he is someone who pulled himself up by his bootstraps.

    He also wrote an Op-Ed piece endorsing Tiger Woods for presidents, want to build an electric fence around the border and his signature (only) policy plan is based straight out of the Sim City video game. What else you got?

    October 17, 2011 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  6. James PDX

    Wait, was this a poll on who people will vote for or a poll on how stupid the voters are? Or is there any difference?

    October 17, 2011 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  7. John

    I am not a tea party guy but it is ironic that the far left criticized the tea party for being racist, yet they back Cain far more than any candidate. Its policy, not race. I've had enough of the BS from the extreme left...their anger, insults and collectivism. We need more moderates in both parties. I miss the blue dog democrats (which was my family traditionally). My parents (& late grandparents) do not identify whatsoever with the far left, which seems to have taken over the democratic party recently.

    October 17, 2011 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  8. little me

    My mind has made up – Sarsh Palin/Trump

    October 17, 2011 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  9. uncleFred

    So Paul's 9% is certainly have their minds made up. That it +/- 1% of what he always gets. That leaves only 24% of non-Paul Republicans whose minds are made up.
    Anybody's race folks anybody's race

    October 17, 2011 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  10. Calypso

    "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."


    You've got those pro-Obama talking points down quite well. BTW, Cain is no ignoramus. He's been enormously successful and has proven his leadership ability countless times throughout his lifetime.

    What has Obama proved?

    Republicans are far more enthused than Democrats. I suppose that's because the Obama presidency is turning out to be a great misery soup. Is a depression far behind?

    October 17, 2011 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  11. Carolynr

    Romney is the this GOP, Karl Rove, Huckabee....etc....I'm not going to vote. I did it for you with McCain...only this time if Romney is elected...I only get Obama back....the same exact thing. Cain is not a credible candidate...his 999 will topple the economy, does not solve the deficit and is not revenue neutral. His advisor he quotes does not have a degree in economics but rather accounting.

    October 17, 2011 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  12. nnizy

    The article HAD to close with some speculation that is really editorial. Therefore I will provide my own. The reason Democrats are not as enthusiastic is because Obama is there candidate. That must suck as a dedicated Democrat.

    October 17, 2011 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  13. mannycl

    The time is coming for the losers and left wingers that hate America, Comrade Obama will be kicked out of office next year after almost destroying this country.

    October 17, 2011 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  14. Carolynr

    Concerning Herman...I like him...but he lacks the experience to be President. We did this with Obama...however, he does know how to organize Wall Street...doesn't he.

    October 17, 2011 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  15. Gimmeabreak

    Obama has three years as president on his resume and he's still less qualified than most of the republican candidates. The lemmings voted for hope & change and yes we can. Now their wondering why nothing is happening. It's was like putting a stock clerk in charge of Home Depot.

    October 17, 2011 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  16. stopthe

    Cain's 9-9-9 plan would be much better for EVERYONE than the current tax code. Nor has Cain "admitted" that it would "mean higher taxes for the lower middle class and the poor." In fact, he specifically denied this in the last debate.

    His plan is not as good as the FairTax. But it is much better than what we have today.

    However, the only real libertarian in the race is Ron Paul. And to those of you that think he couldn't beat Obama – think again; he would pull far more voters from the left than any other Republican candidate. Think "Reagan Democrat" all over again – for obviously different reasons, but with the same tectonic effect.

    October 17, 2011 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  17. Tim

    If Ron Paul can translate straw poll votes into REAL votes in a REAL primary I might consider voting for him. But we all know that is NOT going to happen.

    October 17, 2011 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  18. agreewithstevens

    We will remain undecided for a while. The major question in our collective minds revolves around ELECTIBILITY. It is, very simply, our most important issue. Nobody denies that unseating a sitting president, even with the problems this one has (YES, he has a couple chinks in his armor) is a very hard thing to do...BUT we ARE going to do it!

    October 17, 2011 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  19. Kweg Yung

    Corporate America's expansion into China was paid for by the American taxpayer. Bush's “tax cuts for the rich” policy helped to fund this transition. That's why no American jobs were created but a lot of Chinese jobs were. Republican politicians represent the corporate rich, the 'job creators'. When was the last time you saw a job created in the U.S.? The rich don't pay tax in this country and their corporations are physically based in communist China; where, by the way, SOCIALIZED healthcare and SOCIALIZED education are the norm and ALL the banks are state owned. These former American companies only pay tax in China, supporting a growing communist government and military. Republican politicians sold us (U.S.) out. These guys aren't batting for us (U.S.) anymore.

    October 17, 2011 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  20. Calypso

    Obama is campaigning in NC and Virginia on the taxpayers dime - again via bus.

    Why? Because he is on profoundly weak ground in these two states and cannot win re-election without them.

    As a resident of NC, I can confidently say, he will not win the state next year. And, I doubt very seriously he will win Virginia.

    There just aren't enough stupid people in NC and VA to vote for him.

    October 17, 2011 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  21. bluemax77

    Cain thinks he's found friends and admirers in the GOP – just busting a gut laughing...

    October 17, 2011 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  22. bana sakey

    What should happen to the millions of illegal immigrants living in the country now?

    October 17, 2011 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  23. RRP

    I love the smiles and hand shakes... I imagine the BS these guys tell each other is never ending... I'll say NO THANKS... OBAMA is going to take it from here... Sit down SHUT UP and mind your manners....

    October 17, 2011 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  24. LovesIrony

    Moe, Larry or Curly. No wonder they can't decide who should lead our country.

    October 17, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  25. Keith

    Hmmm... Obama campaign just about to cross the one millionth donor mark. Only about 600 more donors to go.

    But don't panic neocons!!!! I'm sure the Koch Brothers will donate over one million times to the GOP candidate. 🙂

    October 17, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9