CNN Poll: Catholic support for Romney crucial in Ohio
March 5th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
11 years ago

CNN Poll: Catholic support for Romney crucial in Ohio

(CNN) - Strong support by Catholic voters in Ohio appears to be one reason why Mitt Romney is now deadlocked with Rick Santorum, according to a new survey released one day before the state holds its Super Tuesday Republican presidential primary.

A CNN/ORC International poll released Monday indicates that it's a dead heat between Romney and Santorum, with both the former Massachusetts governor and the former senator from Pennsylvania each grabbing 32% of likely GOP primary voters in Ohio. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is at 14%, with Rep. Ron Paul of Texas at 11%.

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"The surprise is that the Catholic candidate, Santorum, is losing the Catholic vote," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Among Ohio Catholics who are likely to vote on Super Tuesday, 39% back Romney compared to 33% who support Santorum. Santorum has an advantage among Protestants by a 35%-to-29% margin."

Romney's advantage among Catholics is within the sampling error. Last week exit polls in neighboring Michigan indicated Romney had an advantage with Catholic voters in that state as well. Both Michigan and Ohio have sizeable Catholic populations.

The CNN/ORC survey is the fifth released over the past day and a half to indicate that it's all tied up in Ohio. Surveys released a week ago suggested that Santorum led Romney, but they were conducted before Romney's large victory last Tuesday in Arizona and his edging out of Santorum to win his native Michigan.

"Ohio is yet another state in which Republican primary voters are split ideologically," says Holland. Romney has an 18-point advantage among moderates, while Santorum is up by eight among conservatives."

Sixty-three delegates are up for grabs Tuesday in Ohio, one of 10 states to hold contests on Super Tuesday. Although more delegates are at stake in Georgia, Ohio is arguably the most crucial of the states holding a Super Tuesday contest because of its status as a major general election battleground, and both Romney and Santorum have campaigned hard to take the state.

But Georgia is crucial for Gingrich, who's said repeatedly over the past week that he needs to win the state. Gingrich represented Georgia's sixth congressional district for two decades.

The poll indicates Gingrich is enjoying home field advantage, with a 23 point lead over Romney in the state. Gingrich is at 47% among likely GOP primary voters, with Romney at 24%, Santorum at 15% and Paul at 9%. Other recent surveys in Georgia also indicated Gingrich with a double digit lead.

Two-thirds of people questioned in Georgia said they were definitely backing the candidate they are currently supporting, with three in ten saying they may change their minds, and 5% unsure or not supporting a candidate.

In Ohio, 53% said they were committed to the candidate they are currently backing, with 37% saying they could change their minds, with one in ten either unsure or not backing a candidate.

Besides being a crucial primary state, Ohio is also an extremely important battleground state in the general election. According to the poll, 49% of Ohio registered voters would back President Barack Obama in November, with 45% supporting an unnamed Republican nominee.

In Georgia, which has been a reliable Republican state in presidential contests, the poll indicates Obama deadlocked at 48% against the eventual GOP nominee.

The CNN poll in Ohio was conducted by ORC International, with 1,825 registered voters, including 546 registered voters likely to cast ballots in the Ohio GOP primary, questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error for registered voters is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, with a sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points for questions only of likely Republican primary voters.

The CNN poll in Georgia was conducted by ORC International, with 1,775 registered voters, including 527 registered voters likely to cast ballots in the Georgia GOP primary, questioned by telephone.

The survey's sampling error for registered voters is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, with a sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points for questions only of likely Republican primary voters.

Also see:

Poll: All tied up in Tennessee

Romney gets backing from key Republicans

Barbara Bush robo calls for Romney

Romney, Santorum tied in Ohio

Filed under: 2012 • CNN poll • Georgia • Ohio
soundoff (125 Responses)
  1. T'sah from Virginiia

    Mitt's got the money and organization and the plan to turn the country around. Gotta go with the man!

    March 5, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  2. Tom

    To those concerned that a Catholic would vote for Romney: Remember, this poll just covered REPUBLICAN voters. Many, many Catholic Democrats and Independents supported Mr Obama in 2008 and will continue to do so in 2012.

    March 5, 2012 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  3. cashmeremafia

    I guess a lot of Catholics don't think the way Santorum does...

    March 5, 2012 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  4. ca_rot

    My touting themselves as the "ultimate" conservative, Romney and Santorum are making it really hard for any moderate Democrats to vote for them in the general election. Is the eventual winner going to change his tune once the primaries are done and they're finished with pandering to the far right?

    March 5, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  5. MJSouth

    More confirmation that the vast majority of Catholics don't vote because of identified religion or church guidance. There is no real Catholic Vote.

    March 5, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  6. Jackie Yates

    I'm amazed that Ohioans are not voting for Gingrich. When he was Speaker, there was 4.2% unemployment and Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati had a job surplus. 11,000,000 jobs were created because the Speaker was able to work with Clinton. Newt is the only candidate with real solutions, the true conservative. Santorum supported Arlen Spector, proabortion candidate and voted to fund Planned Parenthood and he's a fiscal liberal. He's not even eligible for 9 out of the 16 districts-those delegates will be up for grabs. So any conservative voting for Santorum are giving their vote to Romney, the MA flipflopping liberal.

    March 5, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  7. Thor

    I think, from a Catholic perspective, is that I did not like the fact that some past Republican Presidential candidates used religion to tout their message. I strongly have always believed that the original founders of the freedoms of our country were rooted in the pursuit of the ability to worship according to what our own beliefs are, not what the predominant religion of the state is. That's why Puritans came here in the first place. Santorum, I believe, is a candidate that assumes the religious Christian movements in the United States will automatically be voting for him due to his religion, rather than what he can do. Romney has very obviously left religion out of the equation as much as he can. He sticks to what the country needs right now, and that is exactly what his past history has shown him to be proficient recovery. No catholic wants to have the state mix a masonic religion into catholicism; and likewise, no catholic would dare to mix catholicism into a political genre. That, I believe, is why catholics would not vote for Santorum: they don't want ANYONE of ANY religion to attempt to incorporate THEIR religion into our common guarantees of the United States government. This is an essential tenent that I believe NO religious group would question. Romney, it appears, is the safer of the two simply because he comes from a background where religion is separated from the law of the land.

    March 5, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  8. Oodoodanoo


    1) Romney may not be a culture-war lunatic (though he tries to act like one), but he's a financial lunatic. If you think a Wall St. insider has the best ideas for fixing the country, maybe you don't remember the last four years.

    2) The problems facing the country have been building for a long time. These are natural consequences of the rest of the world getting their act together after World War II, as well as our failure to keep up academically. Even the best president couldn't change those facts, especially in four years. However, a less-than-best president (ssee Bush, George W.) could certainly help the country decline a lot more quickly.

    In short, NOBODY in the White House can bring back "self respect and stability" to the whole country. In fact, that's your own job. Stop asking government to do that for you. Furthermore, you can certainly vote in an insecure plastic man who'll cut taxes for the rich and start several new wars to prove his manliness to the country. That way lies ruin.

    March 5, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  9. MeMelvin

    Hindus for Newt
    Branch Davidians for Mitt
    Sciencetologists for Rick
    Buddahists for Ron
    Satan Worshippers for Rush

    All seems kind of silly, doesn't. Well, except that last one...

    March 5, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  10. izy

    OBAMA 2012, romney is a flip flopper, cant trust him, and sanctorum is to religious....this latino sticking with the real man for the job, Obama 2012 🙂

    March 5, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  11. normajean @ verizon ,com

    Not only do I happen to not know anyone at the moment who will be voting Repub...I can assure the party that I don't know any women who won't think twice before voting for the anti women Repubs from here on!!!!!!

    March 5, 2012 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  12. alkarrk

    This is really interesting. Kudos to the the Catholic church for NOT using 25% of their time preaching against Mormons from the pulpit, as many Evangelical churches do. And kudos to any rare Evangelical congregation who doesn't either. Eventually the Evangelicals will get behind Mitt, once he becomes the nominee, since the only thing worse than a Mormon to them is a Muslim (which they think Obama is). But for now, this is an interesting dichotomy to see in the race.

    March 5, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  13. Pat

    Republicans say we should give bigger tax breaks to the top 1% bcoz we should not envy sucessful people. Okay then why are Newt & Santorum complaining about Mitt outspending them 20 to 1. Mitt is sucessfull and has more resources they (Santorum & Newt) should lead by example by not complaining bcoz it is class warfare. Do the conservtards realise the edge that money/wealth gives u?

    March 5, 2012 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  14. Mark

    The same religion that boasts and votes to someone to just under God (Pope) , allows priests to molest boys and not do a thing about it (until public rage steps in), and thinks it has the power to determine "saints" (sorry, that is God's job), is voting for Romney. Only reinforces who I am already voting for (uh, to make it clear, it is not Romney).

    March 5, 2012 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  15. nairb247

    Anyone who would not vote for Romney because of his religious beliefs is just as ignorant as anyone who would not vote for Obama because of the color of his skin.

    Get to know the person as a candidate. If you don't like what he says that is fine, but to not vote for someone simply because you don't agree with their religious beliefs is just plain stupid.

    March 5, 2012 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  16. Jackie Yates

    Newt Gingrich is the pro-jewish vote. He has always defended Israel, that's why Sheldon Adelson is backing him. Our only ally in the Middle east would support a Gingrich presidency.

    March 5, 2012 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  17. Bootstomper

    Who cares, the GOP candidates this election are a joke. Better find somebody else or try again in 2016.

    March 5, 2012 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  18. Southern Hottie

    Mitt's not so bad and I might vote for him. If he's got a plan, he's worth looking at.

    March 5, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  19. Thinks2010

    Boy, Romney is aging before our very eyes. This doesn't happen to most candidates until they are elected and in the White House for some time.

    March 5, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  20. Tom Joad

    It doesn't bode well for the country when Ohio, the trailer park of the north, has a say in the outcome of anything. Ohio paved the way for 8 long years of the Texas Village Idiot. How many Ohio service people were killed in the trumped up war that followed. Maybe Ohio can explain that to it's families.

    March 5, 2012 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  21. hank

    As a Catholic I find Santorum frightening in that he seems to believe in a Theocracy. Romney seems to represent the more mainstream view that we need to not let anyone religion dictate public policy. Romney is the more stable dependable person.

    March 5, 2012 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  22. Bob

    "T'sah from Virginiia – Mitt's got the money and organization and the plan to turn the country around."

    A vote for that poser Mittens is a vote for disaster – he doesn't have a clue.

    And neither do you.

    March 5, 2012 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  23. Brian C

    It disturbs me that a fully developed, modern, world power relies on religion being a major factor in its choice of president. Especially considering the disaster of the US economy, which you would think would be a priority.

    March 5, 2012 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  24. J Mann

    Catholics are not stupid, why would they vote for Santorum – he's more of an evangelical in Catholic disguise, way more uptight and preachy than the average Catholic, who take their faith as an everyday part of life, not as something to use to win votes. Kennedy, they could get behind, he was real, Santorum – forget about it, he's an embarrassment.

    March 5, 2012 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  25. reACTIONary

    RE: But Georgia is crucial for Gingrich, who's said repeatedly over the past week that he needs to win the state.

    The only reason he says that is because he knows he will win it. Saying it creates an artificial sense of drama and the illusion of a big, momentous win. Nope, he's just the faviorate son. Big deal.

    March 5, 2012 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
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