CNN Poll: Gingrich soars, Cain drops
November 14th, 2011
12:03 PM ET
11 years ago

CNN Poll: Gingrich soars, Cain drops

Washington (CNN) - A new national survey of Republicans indicates that it's basically all tied up between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, with Gingrich on the rise and businessman Herman Cain falling due to the sexual harassment allegations he's been facing the past two weeks.

According to a CNN/ORC International Poll released Monday, 24% of Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP say Romney is their most likely choice for their party's presidential nominee with Gingrich at 22%. Romney's two-point advantage is well within the survey's sampling error.

Full results (pdf)

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While the level of support has pretty much stayed the same for Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who's making his second bid for the White House, Gingrich has seen his support jump 14 points since October.

The poll also indicates that 14 percent back Cain, down 11 points from last month. Four women have alleged that Cain sexually harassed them during the late 1990s when he headed the National Restaurant Association. Cain denies the allegations.

"Cain is struggling with the charges of sexual harassment, and while most Republicans tend to dismiss those charges, roughly four in 10 Republicans think this is a serious matter and tend to believe the women who made those charges," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.

The survey indicates that only a bare majority of Republicans tend to believe Cain, and more than a third say he should end his presidential campaign. Among the general public, Cain has a bigger credibility problem - 50% of all Americans say they tend to believe the women and only a third say they believe Cain.

"Not surprisingly, there is a big gender gap on this matter - women say this is a serious matter and believe the women, but men say the story has been overblown and are split on which side they believe," Holland added.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is at 12% in the survey, basically all even with Cain for third place in the hunt for the nomination. Perry was at 13% in CNN's October poll. The new survey was conducted Friday through Sunday, entirely after last Wednesday's presidential debate where Perry suffered an embarrassing "oops" moment when the one-time front-runner struggled for nearly a minute to name the third of three federal agencies he would cut if elected president.

While Perry's overall horse race number has not suffered, dig deeper into the poll and it appears the "oops" moment is hurting his standing with Republican voters. In September, 72% of Republicans said Perry had the right personal qualities to be president. A majority of Republicans still feel that way, but that number has dropped 14 points since September.

According to the poll, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who's making his third run for the presidency, is at 8%, with Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota at 6%, former Utah Gov. and former ambassador to China Jon Huntsman and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania each at 3%, and 8% are unsure.

The poll's Monday release comes seven weeks and one day before the Iowa caucuses, the first contest on the primary and caucus calendar. The survey indicates that just over six in 10 Republicans say they may change their minds, with 31% say they will definitely support the candidate they are currently backing.

With Cain dropping and Perry flat-lining, it looks like it's Gingrich's turn to become the "anybody but Romney" candidate. If the GOP race becomes a two-man battle between Romney and Gingrich, the poll indicates they are well-matched. Romney and Gingrich are the two most popular Republican candidates among the GOP rank and file, and the only two with favorable ratings above 50% among the Republicans surveyed.

More than three-quarters of Republicans think both men have the right personal qualities to be president and more than seven in 10 Republicans say they agree with Gingrich and Romney on important issues.

The key difference between Romney and Gingrich is electability. For the first time in CNN's polling, Romney now tops Barack Obama in a head-to-head matchup among registered voters. But Gingrich faces an 8-point deficit when paired with Obama in a general election matchup.

"Among all Americans, 58% say that Romney has the personal qualities a president should have, compared to just 45% for Gingrich. Most Americans don't agree with either man on important issues," Holland said.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International, with 1,036 adults Americans, including 480 Republicans and Independents who lean Republican, as well as 552 men and 514 women, questioned by telephone. The overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points, with a sampling error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points for questions only of Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP.

- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

Also see:

CNN Poll: Support rises for health insurance mandate

Democrats obsessed with Romney?

Cain 'totally respects women,' wife says

soundoff (444 Responses)
  1. HiroAkita

    Newt comes across as a smug arrogant guy sometimes. Speaks like a know it all most of the time, I don't think he knows it all... and I hear interesting things about his previous 'track-record' that are disturbing.

    November 14, 2011 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  2. Robert jay

    So what – this week he is the "best of the worst" – none of them have a plan – only criticism without honesty or facts that can be substantiated beyond rhetoric!

    November 14, 2011 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  3. Skegeeace

    EWWWWWWWWWWWWW- Newt Gingrich?! I'd rather have Herman Cain- and that's saying something.

    November 14, 2011 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  4. Drumcode

    The farce continues...

    November 14, 2011 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  5. Tea Party Express

    So... who's the next "flash in the pan favorite?"

    Seems like every 2-3 weeks there is a new frontrunner.

    November 14, 2011 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  6. IEK

    No doubt the scandal has hurt. But part of the problem is probably that his 9-9-9 plan is incredibly stupid, and outside of that one little trick, Cain has got nothing.

    Oh well, with a FOtM GoP candidate, at least we can expect a new Bad Lip Reading of Newt.

    November 14, 2011 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  7. Gary

    I think this ups and downs for the candidates just is clearing the way for Huntsman. he clearly is the best candidate for America, not just Republicans.

    November 14, 2011 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  8. Not Gangrene

    Newt's performance on Da Ali G Show seals my vote for him.

    November 14, 2011 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  9. AC

    Pepperoni GET LOST

    November 14, 2011 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  10. FletcherGR

    I am a conservative. I refuse to support any candidate who believes torturing people is okay. It never is. I hope, for the sake of our country, that Romney emerges victorious. Either Obama or Gingrich would spell further disaster for the USA.

    November 14, 2011 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  11. AmericanPatriot

    Whew....It's a good thing too because if it weren't for Newt, Ron Paul might actually gotten more air time !

    November 14, 2011 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  12. Jack from Illinois

    Gingrich – the last of the seven dwarves.

    I've said all along that he won't make it past the South Carolina primary. God help America if he does.

    November 14, 2011 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  13. lance corporal

    if the GOP is turning to gingrich......... WOW they are lost
    here's your family values in action
    here's your personal responsibility embodified..........

    November 14, 2011 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  14. Lenny Pincus

    Gingrich will get pulverized in a general election.

    November 14, 2011 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  15. Sigh

    Looks like Gingrich is the republicans flavor of the Month

    November 14, 2011 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  16. Sanity

    So, now the liberal slander machine can move on too Newt.

    November 14, 2011 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  17. skyjmpr

    Hilarious! One pretender to the Crown [Gingrich] SOARS to 20+% and another drops like a rock [Cain]. But the "heir apparent" [Romney] doesn't budge, either up or down. Looks like the 'anyone but Romney' Tea Party faction has found an new BFF in Newt (at least until the NEXT one comes along).

    Anyone remind them of his rather checkered past?

    November 14, 2011 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  18. B.H.

    While Romney may "look" more presidential, he wouldn't compare in a debate to Gingrich. And if you put Obama and Gingrich together in a debate, it would not turn out good for the president.

    November 14, 2011 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  19. Johnny Come Lately

    So, Gingrich is now the GOP "flavor of the month" eh? Yawn.

    November 14, 2011 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  20. CynicLgrrl

    Waitwhat? 'Breaking News'??? really?

    November 14, 2011 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  21. KAJD

    it's pretty evident desperation is setting in for a candidate that has a chance. Newt isn't it either...,
    slim pickin' in the Republican arena..

    November 14, 2011 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  22. Michelle

    Please not Gingrich...Please not Gingrich...Please not Gingrich...Please not Gingrich...
    I don't know who I'll get to vote for if Gingrich is the Republican nominee. I guess I'd be a write in Ron Paul voter:(

    Does Newt still think that women have monthly infections that should keep them out of the front lines? Please tell me he's at least embarrassed he got caught saying that to students....

    November 14, 2011 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  23. KAJD

    He's not it!

    November 14, 2011 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  24. voiceofreality

    Read the PDF. "Interviews with 1,036 adult Americans conducted by telephone
    by ORC International on November 11-13, 2011."

    Ridiculous. By telephone? So you can select for more biased results that cater to the news that you want to report?

    November 14, 2011 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  25. VistaPoint

    It could be a tie or a spread of 8% points, given the +/-3% error rate. Romney would be +3% (i.e. 27%) and Newt can be -3% (i.e. 19%).

    November 14, 2011 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
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