Poll suggests Romney on top in Iowa if he runs again
August 27th, 2014
02:23 PM ET
8 years ago

Poll suggests Romney on top in Iowa if he runs again

(CNN) - He keeps saying no to third run for the White House, but another new poll – this time in Iowa – indicates Mitt Romney would be the front runner for the Republican presidential nomination if he changes his mind.

A USA Today/Suffolk University survey of Iowa voters released Wednesday should add to the feeding frenzy over a possible 2016 presidential bid by the 2012 GOP nominee. While the former Massachusetts governor's repeatedly said he's not running again, the attention such speculation captures is a sign of the wide open nature right now of the upcoming Republican nomination race.

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According to the new poll, if Romney was added to the list of potential 2016 GOP White House contenders, 35% of Iowa Republicans say he'd be their first choice in the Iowa caucuses, which kick off the presidential primary and caucus calendar.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won the 2008 Iowa Republican caucuses and is considering another bid in 2016, is a distant second, at 9%. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who narrowly won the 2012 caucuses, are each at 6%. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Texas Gov. Rick Perry are each at 5%, with the remaining potential candidates tested were all in the lower single digits.

Take Romney out of the equation, and the poll indicates Huckabee – at 13% is on top of the crowded list of potential candidates. He's followed by Christie at 11%, Perry at 9% Paul at 7%, Santorum and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee, each at 6% and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida at 5%. The remaining potential candidates tested were all in the lower single digits.

The poll's 2016 GOP nomination results not only reflect the wide open race among the Republicans but are most likely also a reflection of name recognition.

"Think about it – we're still closer to the last presidential election than the next one. So until some of these other potential candidates have more time to really begin campaigning in earnest, I think Romney will continue to be top of mind for a lot of average voters," longtime South Carolina GOP consultant Joel Sawyer, senior VP of the Republican digital firm Push Digital, recently told CNN.

Romney keeps saying no

The poll's release comes one day after Romney said in a radio interview that "someone else stands a better chance of winning than I do."

"Had that not been the case," Romney told radio host Hugh Hewitt, "then I would be running."

Romney keeps 2016 talk alive with "Dumb and Dumber" scenario

Romney's been very clear on the subject of 2016.

"The answer is no, I'm not running for president in 2016. It's time for someone else to take that responsibility and I'll be supporting our nominee," he told anchor Wolf Blitzer in February on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer"

He's been using the same "I'm not running" language over and over again. And Romney's wife, Ann, has also been adamant against another run.

Romney tops the field in New Hampshire

Regardless, pollsters are asking about Romney. Two public opinion surveys conducted this summer in New Hampshire – WMUR/Granite State and Suffolk University/Boston Herald – indicated that Romney would be the overwhelming front runner in the first-in-the-nation primary state if he decided to run again.

The first poll to spark the Romney 2016 flames was an ABC News/Washington Post national survey released last November that suggested that if the 2012 presidential election between Romney and President Braack Obama were held today, Romney would hold a slight lead in the popular vote. Obama won the popular vote in the 2012 contest by a 51%-47% margin.

The flames were further fanned earlier this summer when by a 45%-38% margin, voters nationwide questioned in Quinnipiac University poll said that the country would be better off if Romney rather than Obama had won the 2012 election. And a CNN/ORC International survey conducted last month indicated Romney topping the President 53%-44% in the popular vote if the 2012 election were somehow held again.

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GOP strategist Kevin Madden, who served as a senior adviser in Romney's 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, recently told CNN that "the interest in Romney is driven by those who believe, very deeply, that he would have been a very effective president and that he has been proven right on so many issues and ideas that he advanced in the 2012 campaign."

"But conceptual candidacies are very enticing, almost irresistible. Actual candidacies are cold, hard realities. There's a universe of differences between the two," added Madden, a CNN contributor.

That CNN/ORC poll backs up Madden's point. The survey suggested Romney losing to Hillary Clinton by a 55%-42% margin in a hypothetical 2016 matchup.

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The USA Today/Suffolk University poll was conducted August 23-26, with 500 likely 2014 voters in Iowa questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

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Filed under: 2016 • Mitt Romney
soundoff (111 Responses)
  1. Bob in VA

    Can't wait for the Klown Kar show to begin!

    August 27, 2014 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  2. kim

    the re"THUG"li"CONS" are complete idiots. Really, mitt "ROB"me , again??????

    August 27, 2014 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  3. Big_D

    Well if the GOP wants to get serious about campaign reform, now would be the opportune time. They certainly have nothing to lose and you would think they eventually would like to be more than lap dogs for a few rich guys.

    August 27, 2014 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  4. logic is toxic

    He might have to run, the rest could be in prison.

    August 27, 2014 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  5. rembrant

    The problem with Republicans: They never learn and never try something new.

    August 27, 2014 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  6. Mike

    The only reason Obama is president now is because of the white guilt of soccer moms.

    August 27, 2014 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  7. American

    The Democrats fear Romney because he has a proven record of competence, unlike Obama and Clinton.

    August 27, 2014 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  8. Tone


    Obama has single handedly destroyed America and American values.. This will take at least 2 more presidencies to get corrected. I wouldn't want to be the one cleaning all this mess.

    What American values are you talking about if you say the racist value i will agree with you, but when it comes to destroying America the Republiclowns did it , and Obama is trying to repair this destruction, and is being blocked at every turn by the gop.

    August 27, 2014 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  9. budshot

    Threepeat for Romney!

    August 27, 2014 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  10. musician

    Why would anyone think this vulture-capitalist-1%er would be the guy to have in the White House? It is because of guys like him that the country is so messed up. It seems quite obvious to me. How can so many fail to grasp this basic fact? What exactly is the reasoning there?

    August 27, 2014 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  11. Mike

    Romney? I guess it depends on just how badly the GOP wants to lose in '16.

    August 27, 2014 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  12. Chuck

    This from a state where they wear high heels with socks.

    August 27, 2014 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  13. chimpydork

    A republican clown-car of the usual losers. Seriously, is this really the best they can do?

    If so, then it's "Madame President" come January 2017, with her horndog husband chasing down the new interns.

    August 27, 2014 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  14. Larry38363

    Fortunately, the Republican Party has no one else to offer! It's a sad Party; sad politics; sad positions; and, most importantly, sad for the American People that this party has become such a sad, sad excuse for representing its people!

    August 27, 2014 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  15. BG

    Do you know how your political party is completely dysfunctional and out of touch? When you run a candidate for a third time!

    August 27, 2014 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  16. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Romney also finds himself in the position of being a "king maker" just by endorsing one candidate over another. The GOP has also done a terrible job on their make over following the 2012 election. I think Romney is going to be out there to correct that image problem by appearing to be the voice of reason and moderation coming out of the right wing."

    Yes, Mitt Romney certainly sees himself as a "king maker" ... he always has portrayed himself as such. CNN and Madden have fallen in line with other such talking points depicting Romney as such. I do beg to disagree with those touting that mantra: he has no clout within the GOP. Two lost elections doesn't make him anything more than a loser unable to accept his loss with grace. He also ran a very haphazard and extremely weird campaign, and allowing for that fact, I doubt many will want to be seen by his side in a general election, including his former running mate - should Paul Ryan try a bid of his own. The political ads would be knockouts. Mitt Romney is not and never will be campaign material. Moderates have gotten a good look at him twice now; they rejected him both times. I can't come up with any scenario where he would be of benefit to anyone, other than perhaps the democratic candidate who can and would use his severely conservative mantra and his 47%er comments (most of whom ARE moderates) against the candidate he is espousing as being his ... Mitt Romney's ... "top pick".

    What Romney is doing now is paying back those who did support him in HIS bid by offering his support of them now. These are candidates who are going to win their elections with or without Romney support. Romney is receiving more attention and/or credit than is due him.

    August 27, 2014 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  17. Lindsey

    Romney was and is a poor candidate. A nice guy but a poor candidate. The Republicans need a guy who can articulate the Republican principals that make it the better party; Not a country club member of the RNC like Romney who only knows how much money he has in his bank account.

    August 27, 2014 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  18. Freedom Storm

    The US is now officially irrelevant on the world stage. Egypt and the UAE bombed Libya without bothering to inform Obama

    August 27, 2014 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  19. Robert Simms

    He's coming back America!
    Coming to take back this country
    Wherever he thinks it's been

    August 27, 2014 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  20. Vence

    Mittens don't stand a chance with Hillary! Let him come!

    August 27, 2014 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  21. KP

    He isn't running. It's the media hype machine due to a slow day and the comment he made on a radio show the other day.

    Dems/Libs would love for him to be the nom or even announce so they can sling Bain capital, he's rich etc. again.

    The goal right now for Repubs is to hold Congress and win the Senate in November. Then we'll see the how the Dems who are considering if they want to make a run will because they will have to work with the other side and hat strays away from the agenda over the last 5 years set in motion by Obama.

    August 27, 2014 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    That's awesome........good news.:).Glad to see they still don't have their poop in a group

    August 27, 2014 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  23. KP

    He's not running....relax.

    Right now the goal for Repubs is to maintain the House and win the Senate in November.

    August 27, 2014 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  24. bgates

    Says a bunch that at this stage the best candidate the GOP can offer is the one that has lost twice. Third time is the charm!! Hey and the good thing is this time the pollsters have him as a lock to win! What could go wrong?

    August 27, 2014 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  25. sonny chapman

    Why not put Reagan's name on a ballot ?

    August 27, 2014 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
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