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. Anomic Office Drone

    Republicans who have worked with Gingrich don't support his bid for the White House. That should tell you something.

    December 19, 2011 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  2. noel

    so this poll is primary of white people over 50 years old. fantastic. SO THIS POLL IS PRIMARY OF WHITE PEOPLE OVER 50 YEARS OLD.

    December 19, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  3. westward

    If you look at all the national polls – most had not been updated for 2 weeks or more, which is long time with this race. If you look at those polls anyway. The TREND had Ron Paul rising, Gingrich slipping, and Romney staying constantly lukewarm, as he has throughout. Just by looking at all of the polls (RCP) I don't see it as Romney winning Iowa – I see Ron Paul getting it – and I'm not even a Ron Paul supporter. NH will be Romney's, but he won't win the national there, Obama will. South Carolina will probably go to Gingrich and so will Florida, because they both lag nationally.

    December 19, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  4. mike

    Once again, someone polls ahead of the middle of the road left leaning Romney and CNN comes out with a poll showing just the opposite. Do you believe 'em?

    December 19, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  5. Terry

    It is going to be hard for Gingrich to make it all the way to Tampa, and get the nomination. I believe it is time for a changing of the guard in Washington. I would love to see term limits, with the President getting six years, the Senate getting six years, and the house getting four years. I would like to see campaigning limited to eight weeks prior to the election, and all outside money flowing into campaign accounts limited to a Federal Budget Grant, that is the same for all candidates. Lobbying should be outlawed, with a prison sentence of six years for the first offense, and twenty-five years for the second offense. As a result, Gingrich would be blocked from running due to his lobbying efforts on behalf of Fannie and Freddie.

    December 19, 2011 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  6. jbird

    People are finding out, "Newt got nuthin' ".

    December 19, 2011 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  7. Socrates

    Obama and the democrats should and must keep Newt in the race. He will sink the Republican and Tea Party together.

    December 19, 2011 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  8. Burbank

    I guess the Gingrinch was the flavor for December. Next...

    December 19, 2011 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  9. ironside

    "Romney is viewed as the most honest and trustworthy candidate"

    How can they tell? He is, he isn't.

    I can't tell because he never stops on one view of any issue. I guess it just depends on who he is talking to at the time.
    Pander much?

    December 19, 2011 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  10. da

    None of these guys stand a chance, so now the establishment (RNC) is trying to make Mitt look like the clear choice for the GOP. LOL!! They know this long battle for the primary with no clear choice only helps the President so, now they will just fabricate one for their Republican supporters!! LOL This is so classic campaigning/RNC manipulation. LOL

    December 19, 2011 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  11. Coloradan

    Still not sure why the GOP isn't more fond of Romney? So they don't like Romneycare because it was a model for ObamaCare. 98% of people in Massachusetts have health care and it's popular there. Sounds like a success to me.

    December 19, 2011 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  12. Observer

    Has it taken this long for Republicans to realize that he's a world-class hypocrite?

    December 19, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  13. Midwest Lady

    Can't comprehend how The Newt ever had momentum in the first place. White trash in a suit. So glad to see his numbers going down. Going Going GONE.

    December 19, 2011 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  14. Waiting for a candidate

    New stats for the Newt & Mitt Comedy Hour, yawn.

    December 19, 2011 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  15. L. D. in Denver

    Intrade has Mitt WAY ahead of Newt. That is the only ranking you need to pay attention to. It is amazingly accurate. They were dead on for the 2008 elections.

    December 19, 2011 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  16. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Aaron - how many 21-30 year olds do you think fell into the land-line demographic??
    i think there are some consequential impacts on this survey which make it very unlikely to be the most accurate representation of the voting demographic across the US.

    Polls are supposed to be random in their selection. If they were to target the naive, clueless useful idiots that voted for Obama 2008, how accurate would THAT be??? Although a LOT of them have since smartened up and smelled the failure of the last 4 years. Amazing what a wake up call not being able to find a job can be.

    December 19, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  17. squirrel head

    ""As Newt and Romney battle it out the campaign really heats up in Iowa"'. By the way, ignore that guy in front, RON PAUL, he can't win. We know that RON PAUL can't win because all the ignorant establisment pundits say so.

    December 19, 2011 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  18. Mark from Canada

    If it's a toss up between Gingrich and Romney, I'll take the lobotomy.

    December 19, 2011 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  19. Lost Cause

    Not sure any of them can beat Obama.....and that pains me to say.

    December 19, 2011 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  20. The Real Tom Paine

    Truth and Nothing But the Truth: "He's been out there blathering so much I think the American people have become immune to his lies."

    Only problem with that view is that Romney will tack so far to the Right to win and keep the loonies happy that he will alienate the moderates and independents he needs to win. What was Huntsman's take on him, oh yes, "....a well-oiled weather vane". Romney has been running and losing for over 5 years, do you really think he's going to convert anyone now?

    December 19, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  21. Anibal

    We need a person who understands how to tilt the economic balance in our favor. Sorry, Mr. President, we gave you a chance and you blew it. We see business as usual or worse, with this administration when it comes to helping their financial supporters. What happened to change, positive change? The president has pitched us one against another, how did we let that happen?. The way things are, I wouldn't be surprised if I had to shut down my business this coming year, and a lot has to do with the perception the markets have of the stability of our economic footing. I think in a race between Obama and Romney, the business guy will get my vote. I think more and more Latinos, those of us living here legally, are in favor of selecting someone with merits, not just someone who's promising free-lunches for all "poor" people. I pay my taxes Mr. President, then you go and appoint Chris Dodd and Tim Geithner, tax cheaters, to help this economy? really?

    December 19, 2011 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  22. Joshua Ludd

    Anyone surprised? He is a terrible candidate.

    December 19, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  23. Nautilus

    Just so that I have this clear..... 40% of Republicans feel that Gingrich is the best leader, and 10% perceive him as honest. This means that 28% of Republicans feel that he is dishonest, yet feel he is best suited to be their leader. Therein lies the entire problem with the contemporary Republican Party.

    December 19, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  24. dialogos68

    These polls numbers are VERY misleading and out right dishonest. First, one can manipulate a poll to show any result based on the demogrphics of those polled. Second, the establishment neo-con media does not account for independents and moderate dems that are going to vote for Ron Paul in large numbers. So these polls are actually mere propaganda for the mainstream media who are lying to themselves as well as the people who read this junk.

    December 19, 2011 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  25. Wildcat

    Now that the spotlight has shown on Newt and he is down in the poll, Romney will get the nomination. However, the pompous Grinch will not go out without threatening or running as a third party. This will swiing the vote to Obama and the Republicans will again do what they do best. Spoil their own chances to get a viable candidate that can win.

    December 19, 2011 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
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