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

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – December 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 of Rick 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% for Ron 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 for Newt 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 for Newt Gingrich.

     

    So What?

    One month from now the race for the Republican nomination will probably have a very different look. Iowa and 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

     

     

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between December 5 and 12, 2011 among 2,237 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

    All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

    Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

    These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

     

    The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

    J40806

    Q1235, 1236, 1245, 1246

     

    The Harris Poll ® #131, December 16, 2011

    By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll, Public Relations and Youth Research, Harris Interactive

    About Harris Interactive

    Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American and European offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.