Over One-Quarter of Republicans Would Vote for Newt Gingrich, 17% for Mitt Romney in Primary, but One-Third are Still Not Sure

By | December 16, 2011

NEW YORK, Dec. 16, 2011  — Late last year, the race for who would challenge President Obama began and the story evolved a great deal. First, it was would Sarah Palin run or wouldn’t she. Then it was about the rise and fall of Michelle Bachman, then the fall of Newt Gingrich, then the rise and fall ofRick Perry and the rise and fall of Herman Cain. Now less than 20 days until the Iowa caucus, the story is about the rise of Newt Gingrich and how this has turned into a two man race between the former Speaker and Mitt Romney.

Among Republicans, over one-quarter (27%) would vote for Newt Gingrich in the primary while 17% would vote for Mitt Romney and 11% for Ron Paul. Other candidates are all under 10% including Michele Bachman (6%), Rick Perry (3%), Rick Santorum (3%) and Jon Huntsman (1%). One-third of Republicans (32%), however, are still not at all sure who they would vote for in the Republican primary.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,237 adults surveyed online between December 5 and 12, 2011 by Harris Interactive .

Among Independents, 14% would each vote for Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, and 11% would vote for Newt Gingrich. Over two-in-five Independents (43%) are not at all sure who they would vote for in the primary. Among Conservatives, one quarter (24%) would vote for Newt Gingrich, 16% for Mitt Romney, and 11% forRon Paul. Just over one-quarter of Tea Party supporters (27%) would vote for New Gingrich in the Republican primary, 15% would vote for Mitt Romney, and 12% for Ron Paul, while 30% are not at all sure.

If the primary was just a two person race, two-in-five Republicans (40%) would vote for Newt Gingrich and three-in-ten would vote for Mitt Romney with 30% not at all sure. Among Tea Party supporters, 44% would vote for the former Speaker and one-quarter (25%) for the former Massachusetts Governor while three-in-ten (31%) say they are not at all sure. Looking at Conservatives, two-in-five (41%) would vote for Newt Gingrich, one-quarter (26%) for Mitt Romney, and one-third (33%) are not at all sure.

Head to head match-ups

While Newt Gingrich may be ahead in the primary race, Mitt Romney makes it a closer race against President Obama. If the presidential election were held today, 43% of Americans would vote for President Obama, 40% would vote for Mitt Romney and 17% are not at all sure. Last month it was a tie, with 41% of U.S. adults saying they would vote for the President and 41% saying they would vote for Mitt Romney.

Looking at the probable swing states for 2012 (Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire,North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia), 42% of people from those states would vote for Mitt Romney and 39% would vote for President Obama; 19% are not at all sure.  Among Independents, 41% would vote for Romney and 39% for the President.

Newt Gingrich may now be on top among the Republican nominees, but in a head to head match-up he is further behind the President as 45% of Americans would vote for President Obama and 38% would vote forNewt Gingrich, with 17% saying they are not at all sure.  Looking at Independents, 43% would vote for President Obama, 38% would vote for Newt Gingrich, and 19% are not at all sure.  Among the 2012 swing states, however, it becomes a much closer race with 42% voting for the President and 41% voting forNewt Gingrich.

So What?

One month from now the race for the Republican nomination will probably have a very different look. Iowaand New Hampshire will be in the past and the candidates that remain in the race, having made a decent enough showing in those first states to continue, will  be moving on to South Carolina and Florida. Will it be a two person race between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich? Or, will a third person, maybe Ron Paul, who is the only other candidate in double digits now, move ahead?  How this races moves from there is anyone’s guess, but the current thinking is that this nomination fight will continue into March at least.

 

TABLE 1
REPUBLICAN PRIMARY ELECTION
“If you were voting in the Republican primary election and these were the candidates, who would you vote for?”

Base: All adults

         
  Total

 Dec

2011

Political Party Political Philosophy Tea

Party

Support

Rep. Dem. Ind. Cons. Mod. Lib.
% % % % % % % %
Mitt Romney 14 17 15 14 16 14 10 15
Newt Gingrich 12 27 4 11 24 8 2 27
Ron Paul 11 11 7 14 11 10 14 12
Jon Huntsman, Jr. 6 1 9 7 * 7 11 2
Michele Bachmann 4 6 1 5 8 3 2 7
Rick Perry 3 3 1 5 4 3 1 4
Rick Santorum 2 3 2 1 3 1 2 3
Not at all sure 49 32 61 43 33 54 58 30

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding; * indicates less than 0.5%

 

 

 

TABLE 2
ROMNEY VS GINGRICH
“If you were voting in the Republican primary and these were the candidates, who would you vote for?”

Base: All adults

  Total Tea

Party

Support

Party ID Philosophy
Rep. Dem. Ind. Cons. Mod. Lib.
% % % % % % % %
Mitt Romney 31 25 30 34 35 26 33 34
Newt Gingrich 20 44 40 7 19 41 13 6
Not at all sure 49 31 30 60 46 33 54 60

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding


 

TABLE 3A
ROMNEY VS. OBAMA
“If the presidential election were held today and these were the two candidates, for whom would you most likely vote?”

Base: All adults

  Total Oct Total

Nov

Total

Dec

Party ID Philosophy
Rep. Dem. Ind. Cons. Mod. Lib.
% % % % % % % % %
Mitt Romney 40 41 40 82 8 41 72 34 6
Barack Obama 41 41 43 5 81 39 14 46 79
Not at all sure 18 18 17 13 11 20 13 20 15

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

 

 

TABLE 3B
ROMNEY VS. OBAMA
“If the presidential election were held today and these were the two candidates, for whom would you most likely vote?”

Base: All adults

  Total Partisan Swing States
Mod./

Ind.

Cons./

Tea Party

2012 5% in

2008

% % % % %
Mitt Romney 40 38 96 42 43
Barack Obama 43 39 * 39 38
Not at all sure 17 23 4 19 19

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding; 2012 Swing States are Colorado, Florida,Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia; 5% states in 2008 are Florida,Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina and Ohio; – indicates no response

 

 

 

TABLE 4A
GINGRICH VS OBAMA
“If the presidential election were held today and these were the two candidates, for whom would you most likely vote?”

Base: All adults

  Total

Dec

Party ID Philosophy
Rep. Dem. Ind. Cons. Mod. Lib.
% % % % % % %
Newt Gingrich 38 80 7 38 72 31 6
Barack Obama 45 7 82 43 15 49 80
Not at all sure 17 12 11 19 13 19 14

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 


TABLE 5B
GINGRICH VS. OBAMA
“If the presidential election were held today and these were the two candidates, for whom would you most likely vote?”

Base: All adults

  Total Partisan Swing States
Mod./

Ind.

Cons./

Tea Party

2012 5% in

2008

% % % % %
Newt Gingrich 38 33 96 41 42
Barack Obama 45 45 * 42 40
Not at all sure 17 22 4 17 18

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding; 2012 Swing States are Colorado, Florida,Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia; 5% states in 2008 are Florida,Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina and Ohio; – indicates no response

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