CNN Poll: Gingrich lead gone, dead even with Romney
December 19th, 2011
11:55 AM ET
11 years ago

CNN Poll: Gingrich lead gone, dead even with Romney

Washington (CNN) - Newt Gingrich's lead in the race for the GOP presidential nomination has evaporated, according to a new national survey.

A CNN/ORC International Poll released Monday indicates that 28% of Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP say the former House speaker is their choice for their party's nominee, with an equal amount supporting former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. In CNN's previous national poll, conducted last month, Gingrich held a 24%-20% margin over Romney. And Gingrich's lead over the rest of the field of candidates was even larger in other surveys conducted at the beginning of this month.

Full results (pdf)

"Early-December polls from other organizations tended to show Gingrich's support in the mid-30s with Romney in second place, so the current figures indicate that Romney has recently gained ground at Gingrich's expense," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

According to the new CNN survey, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas is in third place at 14%. That's a five point rise for Paul since last month's poll. The survey indicates Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota at 8%, Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 7%, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania at 4%, former Utah Gov. and former ambassador to China Jon Huntsman at 2%, and nine percent undecided.

With 15 days left until the Iowa caucuses, which kickoff the presidential primary and caucus calendar, the poll indicates that only 35% of Republicans are definitely supporting the candidate they're currently backing, with the rest undecided or willing to change their minds.

So what's behind Romney's rise and Gingrich's drop in the poll?

"Romney's appeal to Republican voters seems to be based mostly on his personal qualities, many of which - including likability and trustworthiness - are problem areas for Gingrich. For Romney, that's not a bad position to be in when six in ten Republicans say that personal characteristics will matter more than issues when they decide which GOP candidate to support," Holland said.

The survey indicates that a plurality of Republicans nationwide say that Romney best represents the personal qualities a president should have. Romney is viewed as the most honest and trustworthy candidate, with only 12% saying that Gingrich is the most trustworthy Republican in the race - his lowest score on any item tested.

And Romney is seen as the most likable Republican in the field, beating Gingrich and Bachmann on that measure by a two-to-one margin.

"Gingrich has one major advantage - he remains the candidate who Republicans view as the strongest leader, with more than four in ten giving Gingrich a thumbs-up on leadership," Holland added.

Just over four in ten Republicans say that they think Romney, who's making his second bid for the White House, is most likely to win the GOP nomination, regardless of whom they are backing, with Gingrich four points back at 37%. Everyone else is in single digits. As for which candidate has the best shot of beating President Barack Obama next November, 36% say Romney and 35% say Gingrich, with everyone else in single digits.

More than eight in ten Democrats and independents who lean towards the Democratic party say they want Obama to be renominated next year.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from Dec. 16-18, with 1,015 adult Americans, including 436 Republicans and independents who lean Republican and 497 Democrats and independents who lean towards the Democratic party, questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Also see:

Bachmann pauses in Iowa tour to talk 'myth' of Kinsey Report

Paul claims Bachmann 'hates' Muslims

S.C. governor rallies crowd for Romney

Filed under: 2012 • CNN/ORC International poll • Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich • Polls • Republicans
soundoff (136 Responses)
  1. susan

    Huntsman should be the nominee. He is the most baggage free of any of the candidates. obama will win, regardless.

    December 19, 2011 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  2. Rosslaw

    Newt needs to expound that his suggestion that all child labor laws should be abolished "really" refers to child molestation laws. That and a firm stand that marriage should only be between a morbidly obese man and a morbidlly obese woman could help him regain traction in time for the birther caucaus in Iowa.

    December 19, 2011 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  3. ck1721

    Question #40 on the poll "Which Republican candidate do you think is most honest and trustworthy?"...

    Romney 24%,
    Bachmann 19%,
    Gingrich 12%,
    Paul 12%.

    The fact that Paul came in 4th on this question should completely invalidate the opinions on the rest of the questions. He's the only one qho has said the same thing for 30+ years and has been unyielding in his views, even when it was unpopular to do so.

    December 19, 2011 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  4. Jimbo

    Between Romney and Gingrich, Romney is a better choice. Because he flip-flops on issues, it means he is not an idealogue. Most voters want someone who makes either a liberal or conservative decision based on each issue's own merit. Reality, practicality and data are the most important factors for making a sound governmental policy or decision. The world is a lot different than 40 or 100 years ago.

    December 19, 2011 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  5. Bruce

    Gotta love CNN's sheer vanity: BREAKING NEWS!!!!!1!1! An opinion poll that WE CONDUCTED OURSELVES indicates what everybody already knew before we conducted it!!!1!!!1!!!ONE!

    Here's a hint, people: an opinion poll, no matter how accurately tabulated or how well they are able to conduct it, is no substitute for actual DEMOCRACY. The January 10th New Hampshire primary is the first look we get at an actual act of as.sessing the will of the public.

    The caucuses in Iowa are a distraction, only slightly more-relevant than the straw poll they did in Ames several months ago. They are not really all that democratic, and they don't really do much at all except give CNN another BREAKING NEWS headline to fill in their boring day.

    December 19, 2011 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  6. sortakinda

    Ever notice the resemblance between Frosty the Snowman and Newt? The forecast is sunny and in the 50s, Newt. Melting weather. Bye-bye, Newt.

    December 19, 2011 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  7. Alex Jameson

    What a misleading poll. More democrats than republicans were polled. That's not a good barometer for the REPUBLICAN nomination race.

    December 19, 2011 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  8. Keith, US Citizen living in Canada

    Put em both in a barrel, roll em down a hill and you still have the same thing on top all the times.

    December 19, 2011 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  9. RIcky Bobby

    After watching the debates, Romney and Paul are clearly the ones with the most promise as future President of the US and the only ones that seem to have their head on straight. Bachmann speaks in such generalizations that she comes across as prejudice. Newt does not even answer the questions asked and speaks to other stuff he hopes will appeal to the audience (most probably don't even realize they're being duped).

    December 19, 2011 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  10. bilk7

    Are GOP voters really this fickle or are these constant lead changes just a media invention? How can we go from Perry in August to Cain in October and Gingrich in December? To make matters worse, the one Republican candidate who could run a credible general election campaign against Obama, Jon Hunstman, is stuck at 2%!

    December 19, 2011 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  11. Bruce

    This just in: opinion polls are not equivalent to actual voters showing up on election day and casting their vote.

    And also–what happens in Iowa on January 3rd is about as relevant as what happened a few months back in Ames. That is, it's pretty irrelevant.

    December 19, 2011 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  12. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    In Rasmussen numbers, Mittens 28% approval – 72% disapproval still gives him a negative 44% among republicans
    These are NOT approval numbers. Maybe you need to retake 3rd grade reading?

    December 19, 2011 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  13. Dan Thomas

    Perry up and; Cain surge, castigated, purged; Gingreich down; next up Ron Paul...pleeeease, pleeease don't even consider giving Bachmann any consideration. She is so hell bent on getting her message out that she can't remember facts to recite them accurately. I follow MEET THE PRESS (primarily because I am a Tim Russert fan – but I do like David Gregory's style as well) and I caught part of her act Sunday before her hemming, hawing and her errant insight on what she believe Obama to be responsible caused David Gregory to try to stop her diatribe. Iowans educate yourselves what you see now is what you will probably get more of should she get the Republican nod.

    December 19, 2011 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  14. GoPaul

    I hardly think this poll counts for anything. They surveyed 1,015 people? Not really a poll at all.

    December 19, 2011 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  15. K3Citizen

    Why are the rest of the clowns even in the race? Bachmann can leave now that the debates are over. Huntsman must be pooping out cash if he's still sticking around. Perry proved that retards can get elected in Texas, but nowhere else. Santorum can't even beat Herman Cain. Ron Paul will get the potheads vote. I have a better shot at beating those clowns.

    December 19, 2011 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  16. epicism

    Maybe they're coming to the realization that yep, this is in fact Newt Gingrich.

    December 19, 2011 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  17. edbonet

    Rom Paul in winning, PERIOD! They just don't want to admit it. It is documented
    They are scared to death. He's a true candidate. Everybody else wants to
    go to war for no reason.

    December 19, 2011 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  18. Sue

    Romney will be the next President of the United States!!

    Time to have a qualified, intelligent, successful leader in the White House again.

    Time to make our economy and the United States prosper again.

    December 19, 2011 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  19. MoronMesia

    This is a hit piece against Ron Paul. trying to portray him as a 2nd tier candidate using a poll that is way outside the main stream polls.

    Proof CNN is not objective.

    December 19, 2011 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  20. susan

    I see some support Santorum. Has anyone really asked themselves why he did NOT win re-election in PA? He needs a little vetting.

    December 19, 2011 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  21. excitizen

    not a bad position to be in when six in ten Republicans say that personal characteristics will matter more than issues "...when they decide..." PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS WILL MATTER MORE THAN ISSUES????? Are you kidding me? Just what does it take for ISSUES to matter????

    December 19, 2011 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  22. betterdays

    Romney may very well have won in 2008, had he been nominated. I would imagine he is the candidate Obama would least want to run against.

    December 19, 2011 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  23. Ed DFWTX

    Romney respresents the best qualities would be correct if you consider flip-flopping on major issues an important quality to be president. It certainly is not his personality that people would be drawn to. The man is an stiff as a board.

    December 19, 2011 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  24. George Sales

    If Newt is the nominee, "our president" is home free!

    December 19, 2011 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  25. T'sah from Virginia

    ►CNN Poll: Gingrich lead gone, dead even with Romney◄

    Wow, that was less than 15 minutes of fame!!! Who's Next?

    Obama 2012 – it's OBVIOUS America!!

    December 19, 2011 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
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