CNN Poll: Gingrich front-runner in 3 of first 4 states to vote
December 7th, 2011
03:55 PM ET
8 years ago

CNN Poll: Gingrich front-runner in 3 of first 4 states to vote

(CNN) - Newt Gingrich tops the field of Republican presidential candidates by double digits in three of the four states to first hold contests in the race for the GOP nomination, according to new surveys in those states.

The CNN/Time/ORC International Polls, released Wednesday, indicate that strong support from the tea party movement is contributing to the former House speaker's surge among likely Republican primary voters and caucus-goers. But the poll also suggests that this race is far from over, with less than half the people questioned in each state saying their minds are made up.

According to the poll, one-third of likely GOP caucus participants in Iowa say they are backing Gingrich. Thirteen points back, at 20% is former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who's making his second bid for his party's nomination. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who's making his third run for the presidency, is at 17%, with Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 9%, Rep. Michele Bachmann of neighboring Minnesota at 7%, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania at 5% and former Utah Gov. and former ambassador to China Jon Huntsman at 1%. Both Bachmann and Santorum have been crisscrossing Iowa.

Iowa's Jan. 3 caucuses kick off the presidential nomination contest, with New Hampshire's primary going second, one week later, on Jan. 10.

In New Hampshire, Romney remains the front-runner, but his once-large lead is shrinking. The poll indicates that 35% of likely Granite State GOP primary voters back Romney, with 26% supporting Gingrich and 17% backing Paul. Huntsman, who's been spending nearly all of his time campaigning in New Hampshire, is at 8%, with everyone else in the low single digits.

"Don't make the mistake of assuming this is a two-man race. Ron Paul is essentially tied with Romney for second place in Iowa, the first state out of the box, and has double-digit support in the next state on the calendar, New Hampshire," says Keating Holland, CNN Polling Director.

In South Carolina, the first southern state to vote and third overall, the poll indicates Gingrich far ahead of the field. Forty-three percent of likely GOP primary voters in the Palmetto State say they are backing Gingrich, with Romney a distant second at 20%, Perry at 8%, Bachmann and Paul each at 6%, Santorum at 4% and Huntsman at 1%.

It's the same story in Florida, the fourth statewide contest on the calendar. According to the poll, 48% of people likely to vote in Florida's Jan. 31 GOP primary say they support Gingrich, with Romney a distant second at 25%, Paul at 5% and everyone else in the low single digits.

So what's the secret to Gingrich's surge?

"In some states, Gingrich scores better among men, or older voters, or born-again Christians, but in other states those advantages disappear. But in each of the four states surveyed, Gingrich has a commanding lead among tea party supporters - by roughly 40 points in the two southern states and by smaller amounts in Iowa and New Hampshire," adds Holland. "Among likely GOP primary voters who are neutral toward the tea party or oppose it, Gingrich manages no better than a tie in most of those states and loses that group by 20 points to Romney in New Hampshire."

The CNN/Time/ORC poll is the third in the last day and a half to indicate that Gingrich is the front-runner in Iowa, and the second in the last day and a half to indicate he's the front-runner in South Carolina.

Gingrich's campaign was left for dead by many in late spring, after a bunch of controversies which resulted in a number of top advisers and staffers quitting the campaign. They also faced financial difficulties. But thanks to strong performances in many of the Republican presidential debates this autumn, and thanks to stumbles by Bachmann, Perry and businessman Herman Cain, who suspended his campaign this past weekend, Gingrich has soared in both national polling and in surveys in the crucial early voting states.

The challenge for Gingrich now is to use his skyrocketing poll numbers and increase in fundraising to quickly build a larger and more effective campaign structure in the early voting states. Gingrich went up with his first campaign TV commercial Monday, in Iowa.

The poll also indicates that even with start of the caucuses and primaries less than four weeks away, likely voters may still change their minds. Fifty-five percent of likely Iowa caucus goers and South Carolina primary voters say they may change their minds, with 53% of likely Florida primary voters and 48% of likely New Hampshire primary voters say their open to moving to another candidate.

"It's very important to keep in mind that these poll results are not - and cannot be - a prediction of the actual results to contests that are at least a month away. Most likely voters have not made up their minds in any of these states. Don't think the races are over in these four states - not by a long shot," says Holland.

The poll was conducted from Nov. 29-Dec 6, both before and after businessman Herman Cain suspended his bid for the GOP nomination. Herman Cain's name was included in the list of candidate until December 3, when he suspended his campaign. The results released today indicate the second choice of respondents who picked Cain as their first choice.

The poll was conducted for CNN and Time magazine by ORC International, with 419 likely Iowa GOP caucus goers, 507 likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters, 510 likely South Carolina GOP primary voters, and 446 likely Republican primary voters in Florida, questioned by telephone. The surveys sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Filed under: 2012 • Newt Gingrich • Polls
soundoff (86 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    I bet many veteran Republicans are reaching for the ulcer medication upon hearing this news. No doubt this has the entire party in an internal uproar. No wonder Pres. Obama left town. They would find a way to blame it on him like Cain tried to do.

    December 7, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  2. Belinda

    Ron Paul for President!

    December 7, 2011 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  3. Nelson Colorado Springs Co.

    where is Sarah Palin???????// Where is Sarah Palin???????!!!!!

    December 7, 2011 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  4. PressRonPaul

    Just more circus news while our ground game is hard at work. Students for Ron Paul 2012,

    December 7, 2011 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  5. Nick from Michigan

    Looks like things could get very interesting just like in 2008 for the democratic nomination. This is a very interesting election, I voted in 08 for Obama and have watched pretty much every GOP debate and I still have no candidate I like enough to go against the president. Once 2012 comes around I will be going to GOP events in my state of Michigan just to see if one of them can change my mind but if its Mitt my vote will still go to Obama, just doesn't seem like he knows what he is talking about at times and flip flops on a lot of key issues like Heath Care. Anyone else feel the same way?

    December 7, 2011 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  6. Joe M

    It's just sickening and disappointing that the Tea Party now thinks Gingrich is their man. He is the most Washington insider in the race! Vote for Ron Paul, a real conservative, if you really want to fix things.

    December 7, 2011 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  7. Tekk

    Ok where is the punchline? This has to be a joke right?

    December 7, 2011 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  8. CoJo

    it is interesting to see people wanting or even desire to relive the financial melt down we had. People must love losing their homes and retirement savings due to the financial mess the republicans caused during Bush's time. Even during Gingrich's time with Enron and Tyco type companies (illegal accounting practices for those of you with bad memory). Republicans were the watch dogs during both those times. And they want to do it again?!!?!?!?! And the public will obviously let them.

    December 7, 2011 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  9. Mikey

    I'm beginning to really like this guy. Perhaps I will donate to his campaign and volunteer so he can become the GOP nominee. Of course, I would hate myself if he actually became president.

    In truth, if Romney doesn;t beat Gingrich, Obama will, but I suspect Obama won't get the chance. Repubicans aren't that dumb – or are they??????

    December 7, 2011 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  10. Eye of Newt

    If "pompous windbag" were an Olympic sport, Newt would be the five time returning gold medalist.

    December 7, 2011 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  11. jim dollinger

    this is a total farce. Ron Paul is going to win Iowa by a significant margin.

    December 7, 2011 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  12. Unenrolled in Massachusetts

    This too shall pass.

    December 7, 2011 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  13. once upon a horse

    Newt scores better among "BORN AGAIN CHRISTIANS"??? are you freaking kidding me? These are the same folks that couldn't find any moral dirt on President Obama so they chose calling him a Muslim and not being born here. That just shows that these so-called BAC's are nothing but a sham.....they are only so forgiving when it's one of their own. I bet had Obama are any other Dem for that matter did what Newt had done in his past these same folks would not be as forgiving.

    December 7, 2011 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "strong support from the tea party movement is contributing to the former House speaker's surge among likely Republican primary voters and caucus-goers"

    Yes and no. Bereft of Cain, Cowboy Fonzie or any other suitable candidates in terms of Teatroll ideology, it's true that many of the "Anyone But Mittens" crowd have migrated to Newtered. However, there are large segments of the Teatrolls who are furious about it and oppose any support for Newtered because he, of all the "Anyone But Mittens" that are running, represents DC-insider establishment old guard politics, which the true Teatrolls supposedly oppose in ALL its forms. But of course, there's a whole slew of Teatrolls who aren't really Teatrolls...I suppose you'd call them TINOs (haha)...they were just on the bandwagon and along for the ride because it was getting media attention and they were ever so angry about the election of President Darky. Major libertarian/Teatroll players are coming out hard against him. Do your homework CNN.

    December 7, 2011 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  15. jim

    ok if he wins, how about Gingrich-Paul ticket? anyway I do not know anymore there are too many career politicians who only care about themselves, not the American public. or if Paul pulls it off, Paul-Gingrich ticket ? the bottom line is to fix America first, stop all foreign aid, stop squandering our money on countries who hate us, if this was stopped, there would be a SURPLUS in Funds no debt. would not need China to buy our IOU's.

    December 7, 2011 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  16. Patriot Awesome

    Oh man. If Newt gets the nomination, Obama will have an easy time getting re-elected. The Republican's only hope is to nominate Ron Paul. I lean pretty hard to the dem side, but I would definitely give Ron Paul an honest look. He is the only candidate from the republicans that's not a sleaze bag and has honest intentions. Even if I don't agree with everything he wants to do, he's at least honest and sincere.

    December 7, 2011 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  17. Cindy

    I understand he refers to himself as another Winston Churchill. He also claims to have made Romney most of his money. This man suffers from delusionsof grandeaur and needs a mental exam before he is given the buttons to nuclear weapons. Who knows who he would turn them on. The way he flips back and forth he may even turn them on the teaparty. This is a very dangerous man.

    December 7, 2011 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  18. niki

    Newt is a total joke! Ron Paul is the only reasonable candidate for president!i

    December 7, 2011 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  19. ChiTownArkie

    No wonder Gingrich is leading this field of m0rons. Just saw Blitzer's interview of Perry. OMG! Perry has to be the most ignorant of the bunch (now that Cain is out).

    December 7, 2011 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  20. tj

    I can see the Obama campaign liking there chops. What a gift. Newt! Who will be his VP? Perhaps Larry Craig. Demicrats for Newt. Send your cash in now to assure an Obama win.

    December 7, 2011 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  21. Nick from Michigan

    All I'm saying is anyone but Mitt and I may change my vote come Tuesday November 6th 2012. This would be my second election and I don't wanna be one of those people who say "Bush had 2 terms" no that isn't a fair assumption, I just want to pick the right person for this upcoming election and pick someone with real change and a candidate that will fix the Bush/Obama mess for good not just make it worse.

    December 7, 2011 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  22. tj

    This guy has more skellitons in his closet then cain does. He has been in public life for a long time and its all on record.

    December 7, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  23. bucman

    I believe we should restrict the vote to U.S. citizens with brains. Actual brains.

    December 7, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  24. gary

    I guess morality is not a big concern in Iowa......

    December 7, 2011 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  25. Daph1

    Just what we need. Another liberal

    December 7, 2011 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
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