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.
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Keep voting on the same old two parties and get the same old issues. It's not the candidates so much as it is the system. Putting two people that disagree on everything in the same house makes for entertaining television but putting reps from two parties that hate each other in government does nothing but freeze progress. Drop the electoral college, drop the party affiliated system and let candidates be voted on by the the merits of their experiences, not the failures of his or her party...and let them win by the popular vote. Isn't that what democracy is? If you think the system works, you're lying to yourself.
The fact that only two House Reps that served under Newt in his tenure as Speaker have come forward and endorsed him says loads about his "leadership."
The more Republican put their candidates under the microscope the less radical Obama looks. Ron Paul is up next for the crazy-train inspection. Reality is Republicans are going to have to pinch their collective noses closed and vote for socialized-medicine loving Romney. Hilarious.
Another ABM flames out.
You mean Susan Boyle's lead is gone?? It can't be, he is the epitomy of a true leader.
Obama is still at 60% disapproval and counting
Many in the Republican establishment went out and deliberately poisoned a Gingrich canadacy by making very damning public statements that he is totally unfit to be President. If he does get the nomination, this will likely make him unelectable as those statements will be running in ads 24-7 for months.
Obviously this was their way of making it impossible for him to get even the nomination, unless the GOP electorate wants to hand re-election to the President – which I would fully support.
Maybe carpet bombing does work sometimes.
Please vote for Newt.
Romney/Huntsman is the only ticket that has a chance against Obama in November 2012.
Obama vanquished al Qaeda, brought our troops home, and is still fighting to fix the damage by the last Repubican presidnent. Voting for Newt assures another term for Obama.
Too bad CNN can't just report the news. They must have regular meetings about how they are supposed to suppress just how well Ron Paul is doing. This poll is a joke and we are not that stupid.
Romney 2012...... Things are getting exciting.........
He is totally unworthy of anybody's trust, and even conservatives are finally starting to realize that. If he had gotten the nomination, Obama would have been licking his chops – it would've been almost too good to be true!
Obama is still at 60% disapproval and counting
And he still beats every Republican candidate out there, including "anti-Romney".
you call that gone. it just means that he is not debating. Romney does not have a chance against him as a debater and he is too much of a RINO for most replublicans.
@Mike58 – please provide the source for you misinformation. Recent polls have the President at a 45% approval rating with a 49% disapproval. Those numbers are astoundingly good given the current economic situation. The will improve if the unemployment rate declines, which it appears may be the case.
Let me guess, you don't get your info from the "lame stream media", you have a much lamer source.
Newt's fall in the polls reflects all the negative press the media has been giving him. The media decide who is going to get the nomination. It is obvious. All they have done is quote this Republican and that Republican who don't like him. It's bound to take its toll.
Newt doesn't have skeletons in his closet, he has a whole graveyard.
"Question #40 on the poll "Which Republican candidate do you think is most honest and trustworthy?"...
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."
Agree. This only proves how stupid some people are for forming an opinion without knowing the facts. This also proves that the media is doing a great job manipulating how these people think. These people will vehemently insist that they are forming their OWN opinion, and they are not just repeating the talking points of the media...REALLY?
Only Mitt Romney can beat Obama. He is also the only one who can repair our economy. He will get my vote.
Ron Paul is in the lead! Top story on most news sites. But not CNN. they would like you to believe Romeny is leading. Will they ever stop trying to sway the elections?
So, according to this survey, no one under the age of 50 was polled. That being the case, this seems pretty skewed.
Looks like Newtmentum is slowing down just in time for Paul to become the front runner and win Iowa
When will everyone realize that Mitt Romney is far and away the best candidate out there. We need someone who is intelligent and has good moral character. These evangelical voters are so hell bent on not voting for a morman that they are missing the best candidate the republican party has produced since RR.
I dont think Obama can beat Romney so im hoping for Newt to be the chosen one
That didn't take long ...