CNN Poll: Gingrich front-runner in 3 of first 4 states to vote
December 7th, 2011
03:55 PM ET
9 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. Really?

    As soon as I heard Bill Clinton saying nice things about Newt. I knew the Dems wanted to run against him and not Romney. And the Tea Party is going to help make it so. I do find it funny how the Tea Party has swung from Bachmann, Perry, Cain and now Newt. They really are clueless.

    December 7, 2011 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  2. Todd C

    I'm baffled. This is his past: Health care mandate (supported that one for 18 years!), believes in human-caused global warming and climate change (did an ad with Pelosi!), and cheated on and divorced several wives. Could it be that the GOP voter base isn't nearly as insane as the media makes them out to be?

    December 7, 2011 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  3. Steve

    HaHaHa we can end this election now

    December 7, 2011 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  4. glyder

    getting rid of the obama is top priority.what a shame there are no ronald reagans in the top spot.

    December 7, 2011 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  5. Summer

    I've never voted Republican but I'd vote for Ron Paul. Why is he not getting more support?

    December 7, 2011 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  6. Sylvestor Johnson

    So is the author of this article a kabbalist like News?

    December 7, 2011 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  7. glyder

    so i will be voting for jesus.the rest of them can kiss off.

    December 7, 2011 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  8. Todd C

    Oh, and I totally forgot about the ethics violations!

    December 7, 2011 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  9. Joe O

    Amazing that such an established hypocrite (just check the when & who of his paychecks, if you wonder if that is true)...who led the charge for the 'winner take all' politics that have been the [partial] ruin of this great country of ours...could possibly be the Repub front runner.

    The Republicans have become as politically inept as the Democrats....

    December 7, 2011 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  10. jim

    So Newt lead an ethics lynching of Clinton for his affair, all the while at the same time Newt himself was cheating on his wife who was dying of cancer.

    Then he's removed as speaker of the house for fundraising ethics violations and was also a paid "consultant" (not to be confused with lobbyist... HA), for the very housing industry that brought this country down to its knees.

    And the republicans love him?!?!?!?!? Have they completely lost their minds?!!!???!!!!!???!!!!!!!!!!

    December 7, 2011 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  11. Steve Paradiso

    So the moral RIght wants to elect an infidel – the same guy who lead the impeachment of Clinton for his extra marital affairs, while he himself was in the midst of an extra marital affair at the time – the second in a row, after the first one involved informing his first wife that he wanted a divorce while she was recovering in the hospital from cancer surgery. They apparently need to get their moral compass tweaked.

    December 7, 2011 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  12. phil trigg

    How soon we forget. I don't like Romney at all. He is a 1%er. I think Ron Paul is cirling Mars. There has to be someone better. Here is a recent review of Newt that may bring people back to reality.

    Newt Gingrich’s mind is in love with itself. It has persuaded itself that it is brilliant when it is merely promiscuous. This is not a serious mind. Gingrich is not, to put it mildly, a systematic thinker. His mind is a jumble, an amateurish mess lacking impulse control. He plays air guitar with ideas, producing air ideas. He ejaculates concepts, notions and theories that are as inconsistent as his behavior. He didn’t get whiplash being a serial adulterer while impeaching another serial adulterer, a lobbyist for Freddie Mac while attacking Freddie Mac, a self-professed fiscal conservative with a whopping Tiffany’s credit line, and an anti-Communist Army brat who supported the Vietnam War but dodged it.

    December 7, 2011 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  13. Why did you only poll GOP in Iowa when they can change party

    In Iowa voters can change registration at the caucus itself, and the other polls polled people likely to caucus regardless of their party. Why didn't you? It makes a big difference in Ron Paul's numbers since he dominates with independents.

    December 7, 2011 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  14. Joseph

    It looks like it's Ron Paul's time. I knew he would win the nomination.

    December 7, 2011 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  15. unsub

    where is Pailin?

    December 7, 2011 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  16. John Ford

    I love some of Ron Paul's idea's but he doesnt realize that some times individaul liberties need to be put aside for the greater good of the country. Newt's past will be used against him so I dont think he can win the pres election although I think he's probably the smartest of the bunch. So I think it will end up being Mitt because he is the most stable, but Ron or Newt would sure shake things up. Any of the 3 will get my vote because Obama has done nothing. I am normaly an Indepentdent but Im going all out Republican this time.

    December 7, 2011 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  17. John Ford

    Any just to clear things up for those who dont know or refuse to admit it. The democrates are the ones who pushed the laws allowing banks to give loans to people who could not afford the homes they where buying. Which is the reason for the economy turning to garbage and if you do your homework George Bush tried multiple times to reverse the laws!

    December 7, 2011 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  18. The Terminator

    here is a politician that supports Communism . Handing out t-shirts made in China instead of the USA. This is why Republicans are idiots. putting Americans out of work and supporting the Chinese~ Go F_ _ _ _ Off Newt

    December 7, 2011 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  19. Scott

    To emskadittle – my daughter would be a better bet against Obama – do you really want to go there...

    December 7, 2011 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  20. Fury

    Have we come to a point where Crony Gringrich is the best we can do?


    Sad sad sad.

    December 7, 2011 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  21. Ryan (Future President)

    I'm voting Paul. All the others, including Obama, are big government phonies. Newt's way tooo full of himself. A man with a slick tongue, intelligent mind, but a ball of slime when he's not on camera. My vote goes to the man I can honestly trust to do what he says. Solve our spending problem and fix our economy. Ron Paul 2012

    December 7, 2011 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  22. Karen

    Gingrich the Grinch to the rescue for Obama. He's one of the few people that can help Obama get reelected.

    December 7, 2011 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  23. John Ford

    One thing for sure whether your a Dem or Rep we all need to stand together and demand that our goverment stops giving our hard earned money to other countries especially Isreal!

    December 7, 2011 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  24. John Ford

    Newt gets support because any man with half a brain could rob us blind and still have more of a positve impact on our country then Obama

    December 7, 2011 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  25. Sniffit

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

    Maybe joke...altho, I think "spite" probably describes better the temper tantrum the right wing exrtemists are engaged in and represented by the choices they are making for the nomination.

    December 7, 2011 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
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