Romney back on top in new CNN national poll
January 13th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
11 years ago

Romney back on top in new CNN national poll

Washington (CNN) - It's amazing what back to back wins can do for your poll numbers.

One-time Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney is back on top in the race for the GOP nomination, according to a new national survey.

See full results (pdf)

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A CNN/ORC International poll, conducted on Wednesday and Thursday after the New Hampshire primary, also indicates that the former Massachusetts governor's support nearly doubles in hypothetical one-on-one match-ups against his strongest rivals.

According to the survey, 34% of Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP say they're likely to support the former Massachusetts governor for the nomination, with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 18%, and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania each at 15%. Texas Gov. Rick Perry stands at 9% in the poll, with former Utah Gov. and former ambassador to China Jon Huntsman at 4%.

Romney and Gingrich were tied at 28% support in CNN's last national survey, which was conducted in mid-December, before Romney's narrow victory in last week's Iowa caucuses and his big win Tuesday night in the New Hampshire primary. Romney became the first non-incumbent to win Iowa and New Hampshire back to back.

Gingrich finished out of the money in Iowa and New Hampshire. Romney edged up six points while Gingrich dropped ten points since the last poll. Paul, who came in third in Iowa and a strong second in New Hampshire, has inched up a point, while Santorum, who lost to Romney by just eight votes in Iowa before coming in fifth in New Hampshire, is up 11 points.

"Romney's increased support has come entirely from conservative Republicans, and mostly at Gingrich's expense. Romney has actually lost support among moderate Republicans," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "And most of Romney's newfound strength has come among higher-income categories - he has gained only three points among GOPers with less than $50,000 but 11 points among those who make more than that amount."

The poll also looks at hypothetical two-man matchups for the GOP nomination, with Romney leading Gingrich 59-37%, beating Santorum 60%-37%, and topping Paul 67-31%.

But Romney is certainly not unstoppable. Only 37% say they definitely will support the candidate they are currently backing, with 56 percent saying they might change their mind.

And the poll indicates Romney has some weaknesses.

Paul, for example, is a little bit ahead of him when Republicans are asked which candidate cares most about people. Gingrich tops Romney when Republicans are asked to name the candidate who is most qualified to be Commander-in-Chief.

But Romney continues to have one ace up his sleeve - electability. Seven in ten Republicans say that they prefer a candidate who can beat Obama to one who agrees with them on every issue, and 55% believe that Romney has the best chance of defeating Obama in the general election.

"That's the biggest advantage of winning a race, such as Iowa or New Hampshire. Candidates who have won something look like winners; candidates who lost look like losers," says Holland. "Iowa and New Hampshire are probably a major reason why the number of Republicans who think Romney can beat Obama rose by 19 points since December while the number who think Gingrich has the best chance in November dropped by nearly two-thirds in that time."

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International, with 1,021 adult Americans, including 449 Republicans and independents who lean Republican, questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Also see:

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Santorum begins S.C. push by contrasting with Obama

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Filed under: 2012 • CNN/ORC International poll • Mitt Romney • Polls
soundoff (327 Responses)
  1. Pete

    It's absolutely amazing! Obama born a muslem and a muslem father but the big news is that Romney is a Morman. Who cares? Where are the Obama tell all books? Where are the interviews with the people he went to high school and college with? The footage of him teaching Acorn members? Will no one vet this man?

    January 14, 2012 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  2. ath

    What surprises me the most is how the religious far right, or even leaning to the right of center can change their prospective of what their God desires in a canditate. They say they want a candidate who is Christian first and believes soundly in the Bible. Correct me if I am wrong but do the Mormens use the Holy Bibly (King James version) for their scriptures to lead them? Go figure,,,,,,,when President Obama was running for the office I remember they all but called him the son of satan just for his association with the Rev. Wright. Did not Romney's Great Grandfather have four wives,,,and if so how does that guide ones' beliefs that a person running for office has not been founded in their own families beliefs. Not saying Romney has multiply wives but his is a Mormen. People tend to run from their past but they will never be able to always hide. Lastly I suppose I will always be confused how the religious sector of our population will always bend the facts to support their beliefs.

    January 14, 2012 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  3. KDV004

    This is such a stupid poll and article. This is no way is a fair representation of the people and to call it a national poll is completely bogus. Not only did they just poll 50+ year olds, but only 50+ year old "white" people. Biased and flawed, try again CNN.

    January 14, 2012 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  4. dreamer96

    Mitt Romney = Gordon Gekko Google "Gordon Gekko" and find out the many reasons why...

    January 14, 2012 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  5. Jim in Florida

    CNN – "And most of Romney's newfound strength has come among higher-income categories – he has gained only three points among GOPers with less than $50,000 but 11 points among those who make more than that amount."

    CNN, is $50,000 now the divinding line for "high income earners" ? I thought you leftists and Obama are targeting $250,000 and up as the wealthuy that you want to bury in income taxes

    January 14, 2012 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  6. mary

    Romney is a very smart man and I think he will make Obama look foolish in the debates. 2012 is a year of TRUE change we can believe in!!!! GO ROMNEY!!!!

    January 14, 2012 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  7. tomas

    No one under the age of 50 was polled in this survey. This is biased news. This poll is a lie put out to diminish the support Paul has. A CBS poll recently put him at a statistical tie with Romney over Obama nationally.

    January 14, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  8. South Texas Guy

    One of the dumber polls I have seen in a while. This is a poll of 446 people. Where are they from? What walks of life? What salary range? Please do not base your vote on these silly polls. For example, If you poll 446 people from certain areas, they would not know that Cain is no longer running for the nomination.

    I am just asking for a larger sample size or an explanation as to where they are from. It seems that none of these people care about the things I care about. I thought the best example was the question as to voting for a candidate that supports your ideas or a candidate that would beat the current president.

    Why would I vote for someone who does not support the things I believe in? 75% of the people polled would support that candidate.


    January 14, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  9. Terry

    The pollsters are not talking to average American Citizens, you know, the Middle Class that is sliding into poverty, the Poor, and the Elderly. Between 2001 and 2010, average Americans, those we refer to as the 99% Club, have taken a beating while the most wealthy have increased their net worth and annual income. I continue to believe that Romney is a Closet Democrat, controlled by Corporate America. Sorry, that alliance is not going to work for me.

    January 14, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  10. tomas

    No one under the age of 50 was polled nor were there any African Americans polled. Look in the PDF under question 12. This is not news. Spread this.

    January 14, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  11. CyndyP

    BEWARE – Mormons are not Christians, regardless of how carefully they phrase it when you ask! They believe Christ was the first Son of God and we are all sons and daughters. They do not believe Christ if part of the Triune God – Father, Son and Holy Ghost. It took me many, many questions to get that info out an acquaintance. She was very careful when answering my questions, almost like she had been trained to not answer that question.

    January 14, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  12. informed voter

    A vote for Romney is a vote to go back to the proven failed policies of the Bush error. The choice is clear: keep our economy and world reputation moving forward in a positive direction by voting for President Obama, or stop our slow recovery and go back to the trickle down, proven failures with a vote for any republican. Obama 2012, seriously.

    January 14, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  13. steve

    Romney is vilified as a venture capitalist. Maybe that's what the country truly needs to get back on track.

    January 14, 2012 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  14. Mary

    It is seriously messed up that the media refuses to talk about or even MENTION Ron Paul... Its all a big game of money and corruption.

    January 14, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  15. MikeSA

    Romney is exactly what this nation DOESN'T need. His plans of enacting the exact same economic policies of GW Bush will only result in the same disaster this nation saw under GW Bush – 800,000 jobs lost per month, making enemies of all of our allies, etc.

    January 14, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  16. us1776

    None of these GOP Clowns stands any chance against Obama. Romney especially.


    January 14, 2012 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  17. luis

    if the GOP doesn't give me Paul then I'am voting Obama again. I my eyes Obama and Romney both will take us on the path our corporate masters deem reasonable and am not rewarding the GOP for nominating a lighter toned Obama.

    January 14, 2012 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  18. david

    I wish someone would ask him If Jesus Christ IS God!
    He cant say yes!
    This will Destroy him.
    I know who and what he is!

    January 14, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  19. kebcarerra

    The corporate media wants to tell you the election is over and they have a winner. Of course then there is the people of this country that has gotten tired of these corporate tricks . It's true Romney is in the lead right now but maybe America has another surprise for the likes of Karl Rove and company.

    January 14, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  20. zzzk

    Rove has been influencing the politics for the last 16 years ... And not with good candidates : Bush, Obama, now Mitt.
    The govrmt and the counties will be weaker and weaker .
    Great success story for Rove. Demolishing us more and more , 8 years was not enough.

    January 14, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  21. rightospeak

    Pumping up your annointed candidate with biased "polls " ? Did he buy the press ?

    January 14, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  22. Mr Tumnus

    There is a lot of misinformation here concerning Mormons. Please go to or to really find out what Mormons believe. Thank you.

    January 14, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  23. bilk7

    Conservatives and other right wing groups claim they want to "re-take" America and yet they continually make mistakes that keep them from their mission. In 2010 they put candidates like Sharon Angle, Christine O'Donnell and Joe Miller for Seante seats. No one in their right minds were going to elect these people. The only reason Harry Reid is still in the Senate is that the GOP allowed Sharon Angle to get their nomination. Now, they are about to give away the chance at the Presidency by nominating Mitt Romney! With Romney on the ballot, Obama will win a second term and other Republicans in Senate and House races will fall too! When will they ever learn?

    January 14, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  24. Charlie from the North

    Romney: workers and pets mistreated
    Gingrich: middle class and wives mistreated
    Ron Paul: people treated pretty well(he is a doctor after all) but he seems to give reality the cold shoulder.
    Sanatorium: women's right mistreated, though he seems to treat his own wife well.
    Huntsman: he is only wrong on about half the issues. Seems nice though, too nice for this crowd.

    Name your poison GOP. The only adult running on your side is Huntsman (or maybe it just seems that way because he has not gotten the attention that the others have.)

    Obama/Biden 2012

    January 14, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  25. dabble53

    I doubt it's a case of him being more likable. It's more a case of the less thinking/educated in the GOP finally realizing the inevitable and not wanting to look more like losers by continuing to support the lesser clowns.

    January 14, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
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