Romney At Or Tied For Top In Four Early State Polls

CNN released four new polls of states holding Presidential contests in January, and there’s good news for Mitt Romney:

Mitt Romney is on the top or tied for the lead in the race for the Republican presidential nomination in new surveys in the first four states to vote in next year’s primary and caucus calendar.

According to CNN/Time/ORC International polls released Wednesday, the former Massachusetts governor continues to be the overwhelming front-runner in New Hampshire, holds a lead over the other GOP presidential candidates in Florida, and is basically tied for the top spot with businessman Herman Cain in Iowa and South Carolina.

Here are the results in Iowa:

In Iowa, which will hold its caucuses on January 3 and is traditionally the first state to vote in the race for the nomination, 24% of registered Republicans say they are backing Romney, who’s making his second bid for the presidency, with Cain, the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and radio talk show host, at 21%. Romney’s three point margin is within the survey’s sampling error.

According to the Iowa poll, 12% support Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who is making his third run for the White House, with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry each at 10%, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota at 6%, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania at 2%, and former Utah Gov. and ambassador to China Jon Huntsman at 1%.

This is a pretty decent number for Romney, who has never been the favorite among the more socially conservative voters in Iowa. If he’s able to maintain this and pull off a win, he could be on the first leg of a journey that essentially has this race over by the end of January.

Next up, New Hampshire:

According to the New Hampshire poll, conducted among registered Republicans and among registered independents who voted in the 2008 GOP primary, 40% say if the primary were held today, they would cast ballots for Romney, with Cain at 13%, Paul at 12%, Huntsman at 6%, followed by Gingrich at 5%, Perry at 4%, Bachmann at 2% and Santorum at 1%.

No surprises here. Romney has always been the prohibitive favorite in New Hampshire and, absent some massive error on his part, it’s unlikely that will change. The battle for second place could get interesting, though. Could Ron Paul pull off a surprise second place showing in the Granite State and what would it mean if he did? And what about Huntsman? 6% isn’t bad at all for  a guy that most Republicans aren’t paying attention to.

From New Hampshire, we move to South Carolina:

It’s a dead heat in South Carolina, which will hold its primary on Jan. 21 and traditionally is the first southern state to vote along the road to the White House. According to the poll in the Palmetto State, Romney has the support of 25% of self-identified Republicans or independents who lean towards the GOP, with Cain at 23%. Romney’s two-point margin is well within the survey’s sampling error.

Paul follows at 12%, with Perry at 11%, Gingrich at 8%, Bachmann at 4% and Huntsman and Santorum each registering at 1%. South Carolina has no party registration and all registered voters may participate in January’s GOP primary, but self-identified Democrats rarely vote in the Republican contest.

This one is as surprising as Iowa. The idea of Romney getting the support of 1/4 of South Carolina Republicans would have been laughed off two months ago, but with Perry moribund at the moment he seems to be doing just that. If Perry’s unable to stage a comeback and Romney pulls off a win here, or even a close second, he’d be well-situated heading into the biggest state of the month, Florida.

And things are going very well for Romney in Florida:

Florida will hold its primary on January 31, voting fourth in the primary and caucus calendar. According to the poll, three out of ten Republicans say they back Romney, with Cain at 18%. Gingrich and Perry each grab 9% support, with Paul at 6%, Bachmann at 4%, and Huntsman and Santorum at 1%.

Romney has benefited greatly in Florida from Perry’s missteps on Social Security, and the SSI reforms in Perry’s new tax plan are unlikely to make that state any easier for him. Similarly, I have to think that once Florida voters hear about Herman Cain’s desire to privatize Social Security, to the extent they haven’t already, his star there will dim.

In event event, this is just one set of polls but they look pretty good for Romney. In fact, one wonders if we’re not seeing the beginning of the end of Herman Cain’s momentem since he had been doing much better in other polls of Iowa and South Carolina. More polling to come I’m sure, but it’s got to be a pretty good day at Romney HQ.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. A voice from another precinct says:

    What is the most interesting thing about the SC part of the poll is that there are 2 Texans and one Evangelical whack job in the race but the lead is held firmly by a Northern RINO and a black guy. Sorry, I just can’t see SC republicans voting for a black guy, so I have to wonder what’s up.

  2. Racehorse says:

    I want a time machine to take me back to the days of Goldwater, JFK, Humphrey, Johnson, Nixon. What I see now is a circus.

  3. Murray says:


    Those were the days when conscription sent tens of thousands to go and get maimed or killed in Vietnam.
    Those were the days when Scott Thurmond could run on an openly segregationist platform and be elected to the Senate.
    Those were the days when women bled to death on kitchen tables following botched abortions.
    Those were the days when lobotomy and electroshock where still common treatements.
    Those were the days when being openly gay got you straight (pun intended) into jail in many states.
    Etc ….

    Be careful what you wish for. Today may be a circus, but then it was the Coliseum.

  4. A voice from another precinct says:

    @Murray: @Racehorse: I see Racehorse’s point; JFK, Goldwater, Johnson, etc. seem to have more gravitas than the current crop. On the other hand, I remember what one of my co-workers used to say:

    “It’s not like it was in the old days. and it wasn’t like that then either.”