Newt Gingrich has skyrocketed to the top of the Republican field among likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina. He currently leads his closest competitor, Mitt Romney, by 19 percentage points. Romney, who vied for the lead with, then candidate, Herman Cain in October, has lost support.
- 42% for Newt Gingrich
- 23% for Mitt Romney
- 9% for Ron Paul
- 7% for Michele Bachmann
- 7% for Rick Perry
- 3% for Jon Huntsman
- 2% for Rick Santorum
- 8% are undecided
“The road to Florida goes through South Carolina,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “On the heels of Iowa and New Hampshire, South Carolina will likely again be critical for the next GOP nominee.”
What a difference two months make! In NBC News/Marist’s October survey in South Carolina, Herman Cain, who has since suspended his campaign, was neck and neck with Mitt Romney. At that time, 31% of likely Republican primary voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate in South Carolina backed Cain while 28% were for Romney. One in ten — 10% — supported Perry, 7% rallied for Gingrich, and Paul and Bachmann each received 5%. Two percent favored Santorum while only 1% backed Huntsman. 10%, in October, were undecided.
Among the current potential Republican electorate including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate, four in ten — 40% — now support Gingrich while 23% back Romney. Paul garners 9% compared with 7% for Bachmann and the same proportion — 7% — for Perry. Huntsman has the support of 3% while 2% favor Santorum. Nine percent are undecided.
- When looking at likely primary voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate, Gingrich leads Romney by 22 percentage points among Republicans and by 14 percentage points among independents. Paul receives 6% among Republicans but 15% among independents.
- Gingrich has majority support — 54% — and leads Romney — 15% — among likely Republican primary voters who are very conservative. Gingrich also has the backing of a majority — 51% — of those who support the Tea Party. Among this group, Romney receives 20%.
- Among those who are Evangelical Christians, 46% are for Gingrich while one in five — 20% — favors Romney.
- There are gender and age differences. Although Gingrich has the lead among both men and women, nearly half of likely Republican primary voters who are men — 46% — support Gingrich compared with 38% of women. Gingrich does better among those who are older. Nearly half of likely Republican primary voters who are at least 45 years old — 49% — favor Gingrich while Romney receives the support of 23% of this group. Among those who are younger, the contest tightens. 28% support Gingrich, 22% are behind Romney, and 16% back Paul.
Plurality Strongly Supports Choice of Candidate
43% of likely Republican primary voters say they are firmly committed to their choice of candidate while 31% report they somewhat support their pick. 23% think they might vote differently. Only 3% are unsure.
When NBC News/Marist last reported this question in October, 39% of likely Republican primary voters were firmly behind their candidate. 34% were somewhat committed to their choice, and 25% said they might cast their ballot differently. Two percent, at that time, were unsure.
- Gingrich supporters are more firmly committed to their candidate than are Romney’s backers. Half of likely Republican primary voters who are behind Gingrich — 50% — report they are unwavering in their support while 34% who back Romney say the same.
Romney Viewed as Second Choice by More than Three in Ten
Likely Republican primary voters who have a candidate preference also shared their second choice. 32% pick Romney while 21% select Gingrich. Perry is the second choice of 12% while 10% choose Bachmann. Paul garners 8% compared with 6% for Santorum. Huntsman is the second pick of 2%, and 9% are undecided.
- A majority of Romney’s supporters — 51% — pick Gingrich as their second choice while the same proportion of Gingrich’s backers – 51% — select Romney.
Gingrich Leads Romney, Paul in Three-Way Contest…Bests Romney Head-to-Head
What if the contest for the Republican nomination comes down to Gingrich, Romney, and Paul? In that hypothetical scenario, nearly half of likely Republican primary voters — 48% — are for Gingrich compared with 30% for Romney and 12% for Paul. Nine percent are undecided.
However, if you take Paul out of the mix, nearly six in ten likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina — 57% — report they support Gingrich compared with 33% for Romney. 10% are undecided.
Cain Matters in Carolina?
Now that Herman Cain is out of the Republican contest, would his endorsement make a difference? 35% of likely Republican primary voters report they are more likely to vote for a candidate who has Cain’s endorsement while 29% say they are less likely to cast their ballot for such a candidate. Three in ten — 30% — think it makes no difference to their vote, and 6% are unsure.
63% View Gingrich as Acceptable GOP Nominee…Majority Says Same about Romney
More than six in ten likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina — 63% — think Gingrich is a good fit for the GOP nomination. 23% agree but with reservations, and 11% believe he is unacceptable as the top of the ticket. Three percent are unsure.
Despite Romney’s challenges with the likely Republican primary electorate, a majority of these voters — 53% — say Romney is an acceptable candidate for the nomination. 31% agree but have some concerns, 14% report he is not a good fit, and 2% are unsure.
It is a different story when it comes to Paul, 34% of likely Republican primary voters say he is an unacceptable candidate for the nomination. Almost three in ten — 29% — believe he is satisfactory, and 32% find him to be acceptable but with hesitation. Five percent are unsure.
Voters Weigh In on Controversial Campaign Issues
91% of likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina think it is unacceptable for a candidate to tolerate Iran building a nuclear weapon. Six percent say it is acceptable, and 3% are unsure.
When it comes to allowing illegal immigrants to obtain in-state tuition, more than eight in ten — 84% — believe it is not acceptable for a candidate to support such a position, 12% think it is acceptable, and 4% are unsure.
Many likely Republican primary voters — 62% — say it is unacceptable for a candidate to support an individual mandate for health care insurance while 29% don’t find this to be problematic. Nine percent are unsure.
Likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina divide about the acceptability of a candidate who supports amnesty for some illegal immigrants. Here, 48% find it unacceptable while 46% believe it is acceptable. Six percent are unsure.
Shared Values and Issues Key Candidate Qualities
Nearly three in ten likely Republican primary voters — 28% — say a candidate who shares their values is the most important quality for a candidate to possess. 26% want a candidate who has the same positions on the issues while 23% believe experience in a candidate is the key. 21% think it’s most important for a candidate to have the ability to defeat President Barack Obama in the general election, and 3% are unsure.
In NBC News/Marist’s October survey, values topped the list of priorities with 31%. 27% of likely Republican primary voters wanted a candidate who was closest to them on the issues while 20% said experience was the most important quality in a candidate. A similar proportion — 19% — said electability was their top priority, and 3%, at the time, were unsure.
- Gingrich does best among likely Republican primary voters who think electability is the key. A majority — 56% — backs Gingrich compared with 25% for Romney.
- Among those who favor a candidate with experience, 43% support Gingrich while Romney receives 26%. In October, Romney was ahead among these voters. 35%, at that time, supported Romney followed by Cain with 22%. Gingrich only garnered 7% among these likely Republican primary voters.
- Gingrich leads Romney by two-to-one among issues voters. 41% throw their support behind Gingrich compared with 20% for Romney
- Among those who want a candidate who shares their values, Gingrich receives the support of 34% to 22% for Romney.
Romney Faces Ideological Clash
Many likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina describe Romney as either a liberal — 11% — or a political moderate — 51%. Only about one in four — 26% — think he is a conservative. 12% are unsure.
The problem for Romney is only 30% of likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina describe themselves as liberal or moderate, and 70% identify as conservative.
Voters Divide about the Mormon Faith
Half — 50% — of likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina think a Mormon is a Christian while 50% say a Mormon is not a Christian or are unsure.
Little has changed on this question since October. At that time, 47% reported a Mormon is a Christian while 53% disagreed or were unsure.
- While Gingrich leads Romney, 39% to 30%, among likely Republican voters who believe a Mormon is a Christian, Gingrich has a much wider lead among those who say Mormons are not Christians or are unsure. Here, 46% support Gingrich while 16% back Romney.
Obama Gains Edge over Romney, Close Contest with Gingrich
In a hypothetical general election contest between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, 45% of registered voters in South Carolina support the president while 42% back Romney, and 13% are undecided.
In NBC News/Marist’s October survey, Romney had an advantage against the president. At that time, 46% of registered voters in South Carolina supported Romney compared with 40% for Obama. 14%, at that time, were undecided.
Gingrich runs competitively against the president. Here, Obama receives 46% of the South Carolina electorate while Gingrich garners 42%. 12% of voters are undecided.
When matched against Paul, the president has a 10 percentage point lead. 47% of registered voters in South Carolina are for President Obama while 37% are for Paul. 15% are undecided.
In 2008, President Obama lost South Carolina to John McCain by nine percentage points, 45% for Obama and 54% for McCain.
48% Disapprove of Obama’s Job Performance
Nearly half of registered voters in South Carolina — 48% — disapprove of the job President Obama is doing in office. 44% approve, and 8% are unsure.
When NBC News/Marist last reported this question in October, a majority — 51% — gave the president low marks while four in ten — 40% — approved, and 9% were unsure.
Newt Gingrich, who once received single-digit support in Florida, has climbed to the top of the Republican field. Gingrich now leads Mitt Romney by 15 percentage points statewide. Romney, who was in a tight battle with former candidate Herman Cain for the number one position in October, has been dramatically outpaced.
Here is how the contest stands among likely Republican primary voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate in Florida:
- 44% for Newt Gingrich
- 29% for Mitt Romney
- 8% for Ron Paul
- 4% for Rick Perry
- 3% for Michele Bachmann
- 3% for Jon Huntsman
- 2% for Rick Santorum
- 8% are undecided
“Not only does Gingrich have a double-digit lead, but no one else other than Romney has more than single digits,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “The important question is who will still be an active candidate by the Florida primary at the end of January.”
The Republican contest looked much different in October. In that NBC News/Marist Poll, 33% of likely Republican primary voters in Florida including those who were undecided yet leaning toward a candidate backed Romney. A similar proportion — 32% — rallied for Herman Cain who has since suspended his campaign. Nine percent supported Perry. Paul and Gingrich each received 6%. Two percent, at that time, threw their support behind Bachmann while the same proportion — 2% — favored Huntsman. One percent backed Santorum, and 8%, in October, were undecided.
When looking at the current Florida potential Republican electorate including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate, 41% of these voters back Gingrich while 28% support Romney. Paul receives the support of 9% while 4% are for Perry, and 4% are for Bachmann. Huntsman garners 3%, and Santorum is preferred by 1%. 10% are undecided.
- Gingrich receives the backing of 57% of likely Republican primary voters who are Tea Party supporters compared with 22% for Romney.
- Among those who are very conservative, Gingrich leads Romney, 64% to 17%.
- Gingrich also outpaces Romney among likely Republican primary voters who are Evangelical Christians. Here, Gingrich receives the support of nearly half — 49% — compared with 26% for Romney.
- There are also gender and age differences. Among men, Gingrich — 48% — leads Romney — 23% — by 25 percentage points. Paul receives 12%. Women divide. 38% of women are for Gingrich compared with 35% for Romney. Gingrich does better among likely Republican primary voters who are older. Nearly half of those 45 or older — 47% — favor Gingrich while 29% are behind Romney. Among those who are younger than 45, 34% support Gingrich while 26% rally for Romney. Paul receives 19% of this age group.
Plurality Strongly Supports Choice of Candidate
47% of likely Republican primary voters in Florida are strongly committed to their choice of candidate. 31% somewhat support their pick, and 20% might vote differently. Two percent are unsure.
Little has changed on this question since NBC News/Marist’s October survey. At that time, 44% were firmly committed to their choice of candidate. More than one in four — 27% — were somewhat committed to their pick while the same proportion — 27% — thought they might vote differently come primary day. Only 2%, then, were unsure.
- Gingrich’s backers — 60% — are more firmly behind their candidate compared with Romney’s supporters — 38%.
- A majority — 55% — of likely Republican primary voters who support the Tea Party are firmly committed to their choice of candidate.
Second Best: More than Three in Ten Choose Romney
31% of likely Republican primary voters who have a candidate preference say Romney is their second choice. Nearly one in four — 24% — pick Gingrich while 10% select Bachmann. Perry is the second choice of 9% while 7% believe Paul is the next best choice. Santorum receives 6% while 4% think Huntsman is the second best option. Nine percent are undecided.
- 55% of Romney’s backers select Gingrich as their second choice while 51% of Gingrich’s backers pick Romney.
Gingrich Bests Romney and Paul in Three-Way Matchup, Leads Romney Head-to-Head
If the Republican contest comes down to Gingrich, Romney, and Paul, 51% of likely Republican primary voters in Florida rally for Gingrich, 31% are behind Romney, and 10% support Paul. Nine percent are undecided.
If Paul is not in the final field, 54% of likely Republican primary voters in Florida back Gingrich while 36% are for Romney, and 10% are undecided.
Could Cain Endorsement Have Impact in Florida?
Since Herman Cain dropped out of the Republican contest, talk has turned toward which candidate, if any, he will endorse. But, will his endorsement matter? While 32% of likely Republican primary voters in Florida say a Cain endorsement makes no difference to their vote, 33% say it makes them more likely to cast their ballot for such a candidate while 29% report it will make them less likely to support a candidate with Cain’s backing. Six percent are unsure.
Gingrich and Romney Deemed Acceptable as GOP Nominee
Almost two-thirds of likely Republican primary voters in Florida — 65% — think Gingrich is an acceptable candidate for the GOP nomination. 20% believe he is a good fit, but they have reservations, and 11% report he is unacceptable for the role. Four percent are unsure.
Looking at Romney, nearly six in ten — 58% — perceive him to be an acceptable choice for the top of the GOP ticket while 28% think he is suitable, but they have some concerns. 10%, however, believe Romney is an unacceptable option, and 4% are unsure.
However, the narrative changes for Paul and Perry. 37% of likely Republican primary voters say Paul is an unacceptable pick for the Republican nomination while 27% think he is acceptable. 30% report Paul is satisfactory, but they have reservations, and 6% are unsure.
When it comes to Perry, 35% believe he is not a good fit for the top of the GOP ticket while 27% find him to be acceptable. 31% think Perry, overall, is acceptable, but they have concerns, and 7% are unsure.
Talking Controversy: Which Issues are Acceptable?
When it comes to positions on controversial issues, what are likely Republican primary voters in Florida willing to accept in a nominee?
Most — 92% — believe it is not acceptable for the Republican candidate to tolerate Iran building a nuclear weapon while only 5% think it is acceptable. Three percent are unsure.
Eight in ten likely Republican primary voters — 80% — say it is problematic if the nominee supports allowing illegal immigrants to obtain in-state tuition. 14% do not find this stance to be objectionable, and 6% are unsure.
When it comes to a candidate who supports an individual mandate for health care insurance, 64% say it is not a desirable position while 25% find it acceptable, and 10% are unsure.
However, a majority of likely Republican primary voters in Florida — 53% — thinks it is acceptable for a candidate to support limited amnesty for some illegal immigrants. 41% believe it is unacceptable, and 7% are unsure.
Candidate Qualities That Matter
Nearly three in ten likely Republican primary voters in Florida — 28% — believe it is most important that the Republican nominee have the ability to defeat President Barack Obama in the general election. 26% rate shared values as their top priority while 23% want someone who is closest to them on the issues. 20% believe a candidate with the experience to govern is the most important quality in a candidate, and 4% are unsure.
When NBC News/Marist last reported this question in October, 28% of likely Republican primary voters thought a candidate who was closest to them on the issues was the most important factor in a candidate. More than one in four — 26% — cited shared values as their priority, 23% said electability was their priority while experience topped the check list for 21%. Three percent, at that time, were unsure.
- Gingrich fares best among likely Republican primary voters who value experience. Here, he leads with a majority — 52% — to 29% for Romney. Romney has lost ground among this group. In October, a plurality of likely Republican primary voters in Florida who wanted a candidate with experience — 46% — supported Romney.
- Nearly half of those who rate electability as the most important candidate quality — 47% — favor Gingrich compared with 34% for Romney.
- Gingrich — 42% — also has the advantage over Romney — 22% — among those who want a candidate who shares their positions on the issues.
- Although Gingrich retains a lead, the contest tightens among likely Republican primary voters who want a candidate who shares their values. 38% favor Gingrich while 28% are behind Romney.
Romney Ideology Mismatch for Florida Likely Voters
Looking at the perception of Romney’s ideology, a majority of likely Republican primary voters in Florida — 56% — describes Romney as a moderate, and 10% say he is a liberal. Only 23% think he is a conservative. 10% are unsure.
Romney’s ideology is not compatible with that of the likely Republican electorate in Florida. Only 26% of these voters describe themselves as moderate and 4% view themselves as liberal. 70% identify as conservative.
Majority Says a Mormon is a Christian
57% of likely Republican primary voters in Florida think a Mormon is a Christian while 43% say a Mormon is not a Christian or are unsure.
There has been little change on this question since October. At that time, almost six in ten likely Republican primary voters — 58% — reported they believed a Mormon is a Christian while 42% said a Mormon is not a Christian or were unsure.
- Gingrich — 45% — is ahead of Romney — 20% — among likely Republican primary voters who report a Mormon is not a Christian or are unsure. Among those who say a Mormon is a Christian, the race tightens. 42% back Gingrich compared with 35% who support Romney.
Obama Ahead of GOP Challengers…Lead Grows against Romney
Looking at hypothetical matchups for the general election, Romney remains President Obama’s closest competitor. However, the president has widened his lead over his potential Republican challenger.
Among registered voters in Florida, 48% back the president while 41% support Romney, and 11% are undecided.
In October, voters divided. 45% were for Obama while 43% were behind Romney, and 12% were undecided.
Against Gingrich, the president leads with a majority — 51% — to 39% for Gingrich. 10% are undecided.
President Obama has a 13 percentage point lead against Paul. In this hypothetical contest, 49% favor the president while 36% rally for Paul. 14% are undecided.
In 2008, President Obama narrowly won Florida with 51% to 48% for John McCain.
Voters Divide about Obama’s Job Performance
46% of registered voters in Florida approve of the job President Obama is doing in office while 45% disapprove, and 9% are unsure.
The perception of the president’s job performance has improved in Florida. In NBC News/Marist’s October survey, nearly half — 49% — disapproved of the president’s job performance while 41% approved, and 10% were unsure.
With time counting down to the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary, are there more twists and turns ahead?
The Marist Poll’s John Sparks visits with Marist Poll Analyst and syndicated political columnist Carl Leubsdorf who writes a weekly column for The Dallas Morning News about the latest trends in the 2012 campaign for the GOP presidential nomination.
Listen to the interview below.
Carl, it’s less than a month until the Iowa caucuses, and according to the latest Marist Poll there have been some changes. But before we talk about those changes, I’ve got to ask you: Which is more important to a candidate, Iowa or New Hampshire?
Well, it depends which candidate, I think, because for certain of the candidates for the group of — that we call the conservatives in this race, they’re all conservative, but basically who have been jockeying all year for position, and I’m talking about Speaker Gingrich, Governor Perry, Representative Bachman, in particular Herman Cain because he’s not there anymore, and to a lesser degree Ron Paul, Iowa is more important because it’s going to establish the pecking order among those people. In effect, we’ve had sort of two primaries going on, the — on one side, the establishment side, we’ve had Romney and the two former governors, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, and on the other side, we’ve had the other candidates. So, among the other candidates, they’re jockeying for position, and Iowa is extremely important because of the nature of the electorate, quite conservative. It’s a caucus system which encourages activists, so… But for Governor Romney, while there’s some importance in Iowa, the key thing for him is to win New Hampshire and win it decisively so that the media does not write: Well he won, but he didn’t meet expectations because he needs to use New Hampshire where he has a summer home and where he spends a lot of time as a board to sort of propel himself into the primaries in South Carolina and Florida.
Well, let’s talk about Iowa first since it comes first. The caucuses are January 3rd, and the latest Marist Poll has Newt Gingrich on top with 26%, followed by Mitt Romney at 18% and Ron Paul at 17%. Now Marist Poll Director Lee Miringoff says, “Hold on tight for further twists and turns.” Carl, do you think we could see more changes between now and January the 3rd?
Well, historically there have been a lot of changes in the last six weeks, and one thing I’ve been advising everyone that I’ve talked to and probably have discussed in these interviews previously, is that Iowa tends to firm up in the last month to six weeks. There are a lot of changes near the end, and the way it stands in August or in June probably isn’t going to be the way it’s going to end up, and that, in fact, has happened with the emergence of Speaker Gingrich as the leader there. It’s going to be interesting. I don’t know whether he can maintain it. It’s a shorter period he has to maintain it than some of the others who’ve come up. There’s the question: If he doesn’t maintain it, who would get his votes since just about everyone of his rivals among that group has been up there earlier.
Ron Paul is an interesting and sort of a separate phenomenon. He has a very fervent following, a lot of it young people. He’s got a solid vote, which is I would rate at 10-to-12%. But the latest poll is, not only the Marist Poll but the two others that were taken, show his numbers coming up in Iowa, so he’s clearly a contender for first place.
And the third player near the top of the poll, Governor Romney, has not spent that much time in Iowa. He spent a lot of time four years ago. He definitely has a following. We have to remember that while the Iowa Republican Party and likely caucus attendees are pretty conservative, maybe a quarter to a third of them are more moderate and more establishment, and Romney will do very well there whether he spends a lot of time in Iowa or not. I found interesting in these last polls, and we’ll find out later if it was meaningful, Romney’s numbers appear to have come down in Iowa for no particular reason, and this is the phenomenon we saw four years ago that the more he campaigned in a place, the less well he did, and people forget that at one point he was the leader in both Iowa and New Hampshire four years ago, and he ended up winning neither. So, whether we’re seeing that phenomenon in the fact that he’s dropped from the mid 20s into the upper teens (inaudible) polling caucuses is very difficult and finding likely attendees.
Listen to Part 1 of the Interview:
You know, Carl, second choices might tell us something because Herman Cain was still in the race when the Marist Poll was taken, and 28% of Cain’s supporters said that Gingrich was their second choice, followed by Paul and Romney with each 19%.
Well, I think the general assumption has been that Cain’s vote is… more of it will go to Gingrich than to anyone else. They’re both from Georgia. They both had some affinity on the issues. They’re quite… There are a few suggestions that Cain will in fact endorse Gingrich fairly soon, so that’s not surprising. In a way, the thing that Romney most fears is the consolidation of the conservative vote behind one candidate early in the game. Romney was counting on the fact that the conservative vote would stay very divided, and, in fact, in a very divided conservative vote, Romney with say 25% might win the Iowa caucuses. But if the vote begins to consolidate in Iowa behind one person, then, at the moment that appears to be Gingrich, that’s a problem for a candidate like Romney who has shown great difficulty in getting above about a quarter of the vote everywhere except in New Hampshire.
The Marist Poll showed that among caucus goers who consider themselves Tea Party or conservative and Evangelical Christians, Gingrich gets 35% compared to only 11% for Romney.
Well, that’s not Romney’s electorate, but the… I didn’t notice what percentage in your poll was people who consider themselves conservatives as opposed to moderate or however it’s described in the poll, and maybe it wasn’t asked. But I said, the assumption has been about two-thirds of the caucus electorate or maybe a little more would be Tea Party people, Right-To-Lifers, Christian conservatives, the various factions that make up the right side of the Republican Party, and that is not a group that where Romney is going to do very well.
Listen to Part 2:
You know, I think it’s always interesting, polling people and asking them why they vote like they do, and in Iowa, three in ten that are likely to be caucus goers tell us they want a candidate who is closest to them on issues – 29% say the candidate who shares their values is a key, and that’s flip-flopped a month ago. Any significance to this that now there’s…
Well, I think it seems to be fewer of them are saying that the first choice would be someone they think that can win, and actually we’ve seen in the some of the polls lately, more people think that Gingrich can win than think Romney can win. Romney has not… Romney has run this very buttoned up campaign where he tries to avoid the other candidates, where he behaves like the front-runner, where he straddles the issues and tries to say as little as possible, and when you combine that with his bland personality and the fact that he doesn’t have much of a persona, I think it’s hurt him, and I think it’s, you know, Gingrich has emerged as a more dynamic candidate, as a candidate who could get in Obama’s face. I mean, the thing that Republicans want most is to beat President Obama. They want a candidate who will stick it to him in the debates and who will be outspoken, and I think they see Romney is not able to do that. So, in the other candidates, and I say Gingrich is the favorite of the moment, they see ones who both agree with them and can be aggressive against Obama.
It’s interesting that you mention the general election. When Iowans turn to the general election, Obama ties Ron Paul, but he defeats Gingrich in Iowa 47% to 37% and he defeats Romney 46% to 39%.
That’s interesting. That’s especially interesting because Iowans have been subjected to a steady barrage of anti-Obama rhetoric. The president’s been there a couple of times, but since there is no Democratic primary, most of the — most of what’s coming out in politics is Republicans, and most of what they’re doing is attacking Obama, and for Obama’s numbers to hold up that well is probably a good sign for him from the Fall that I think it’s the calculation of the Obama campaign at this point that in a relatively close election where they have a reasonable chance to win, Iowa would be one of those states that the president would be able to carry. It’s considered one of the states definitely in play. It was carried by, I guess, by Bush in ’04 and by Obama in ’08, but that is not a great sign for the Republicans, and there’s some sense, and there’s a new Pew Poll on this too, that what’s going on in the Republican Party has actually hurt the party somewhat. Whether that will have a long-term affect, we don’t know.
Listen to Part 3:
Carl, organization has always been an important factor in the campaign. Is it still an important factor, especially in Iowa?
Well, it’s important in Iowa because in order to vote, you have to go to a caucus in your precinct, and there are 2,400 precincts in Iowa, and the weather in January when this takes place is often not very good, and traditionally, the way you won in Iowa is you set up a structure in every county, you said the 99 counties and then a lot of the towns, to get people out to the caucuses. I think that’s going to be less of a factor. If it is a big factor, Speaker Gingrich will be in big trouble because he doesn’t have much of an organization there. Ron Paul’s got a perfect organization out there supposedly, and Mitt Romney has one because he had one four years ago. But, this campaign has really been fought out in the televised debates. That’s what’s really driven the race and have gotten the most attention, and the flubs of the various candidates like Governor Perry’s problem, naming the third department he would get rid of or outside issues like the problem Mr. Cain had with various women have really driven the narrative of this campaign, and television advertising’s about to start really full scale in Iowa, but I don’t think that’s the major factor either. I would guess organization will be less important. But if we wake up on caucus morning and Newt Gingrich is in fourth place, then we’ll know organization was more important than we think it is, but I think it’s been reduced a lot. Another factor on the organization side is there’s a difference between the Democratic caucuses and the Republican caucuses in Iowa. In the Democratic caucuses, they have a system where if you get — if someone has less than 15%, their support doesn’t count. The caucuses are precinct caucuses. They elect delegates to the county conventions, which eventually this will get to a state convention. In the Democrats, they all line up for the different candidates in different corners of the room. Anyone who’s got under 15%, his candidate is out, and those people can go join one of the other groups, and you really need organization to do that. The Republicans have a straight vote. It’s like a straw poll. When they arrive at the caucus, they vote for one of the candidates, and that’s how the delegates are allocated to the county then. That’s much easier. It’s more like a regular election than a primary than like a caucus, and if they don’t want to stay for the discussion of the issues and all that, they can go back home as soon as they vote. The Democrats, you got to stay awhile. So, it’s another factor that reduces the importance of organization in this election.
Listen to Part 4:
Let’s go from Iowa to New Hampshire. The New Hampshire primary comes a week after the Iowa caucuses, and the latest Marist Poll shows that in New Hampshire, Mitt Romney is in the lead 39% to 23% over Gingrich, but that lead has been cut in half since last month’s Marist Poll in New Hampshire. Any significance there?
Yeah, I think a couple of interesting things there. One, Romney has steadily been… I think most of the fact that it’s been cut in half is probably because Gingrich has gained and less that Romney has been consistently in most polls in the neighborhood of 40%. And the fact is, if he gets 40% in the primaries, he’s almost certainly going to win. One thing… the biggest caution on New Hampshire is that the day after the Iowa caucuses, all the numbers you’ve seen so far in New Hampshire will be worthless because the numbers will change according to what happens in Iowa. It happens every year, you see a real change, and the fact that the primaries are only — and the caucus in Iowa and the primary is in New Hampshire are only week apart means that there can be a big affect of what happens in Iowa. What that means is that the winner in Iowa will get a boost in New Hampshire. Now, if it’s Gingrich, and he’s already surpassed 20%, that could put him up near the 30% level. And, unless Romney comes out of Iowa with a feeling well he did okay considering he didn’t campaign much there, his numbers might come down a little bit. Now if Romney’s numbers come down a little bit, that votes probably not going to go to Gingrich, it’s probably going to go to Jon Huntsman who is the former Governor of Utah, has concentrated in New Hampshire, and although his record is equally as conservative as the other candidates, his more moderate manner and the fact that he’s not spent all of his time bashing President Obama gives him an appeal to the independents. Remember in New Hampshire, independents can vote in the primary, and with no Democratic primary, we expect a lot of independents to vote there. Not all independents are moderate to liberal to be sure, but I think there are more of those than arch conservatives. So, what you’ll see in… Now if Romney comes in to say a strong second in Iowa, his numbers will hold up very well, but if comes in a weak third, he may suffer some erosion there, and certainly the winner in Iowa will get a bump up, so you’ll see a change there by the Thursday or Friday of that week, and it’ll determine whether anyone actually has a chance of beating Romney. The great fear I think from the Romney point of view is that he survives to win, but he wins so narrowly that it does not give him a boost for the later primaries. As I said before, New Hampshire is extremely important to Romney. He was governor of a neighboring state. He has a summer home there. He’s spent a lot of time there. He really needs to have a strong victory there, or he’s going to have real problems when the race moves south.
Interesting that you mention the independent voters in New Hampshire. Romney leads Gingrich by 12 points among Republicans in New Hampshire, but when it comes to independents, his lead opens up to 21 points over Gingrich.
Well that’s exactly right because the two candidates who the independents are most likely to vote for or like more than will vote for are Romney, considered the moderate in this race. Remember, he’s taken all these conservative positions, but a lot of people don’t believe he really believes them, including a lot of conservatives, so he will get a lot of that independent vote, but if he falls or has seen trouble, it’ll go to Huntsman I think.
Listen to Part 5:
According to Marist, the New Hampshire voters are firmly committed to their candidate – 49% say they’re strongly committed while 31% report they’re somewhat committed, whatever that means, but that may tell us something…
That’s more than in Iowa is and… that’s more than in Iowa that it’s… they’re less committed, I think.
Correct, but I wondering if this might tell us something about what the general election might be like in New Hampshire. There’s something that’s interesting about New Hampshire. Marist has President Obama losing to Romney in New Hampshire by only three points, 46/43, but they have the president defeating Ron Paul by only two points, and they have the president defeating Gingrich by ten points and yet…
I was going to say – and yet a majority of New Hampshire voters, 52%, say they don’t approve of Obama’s performance.
Well, I think if you compare the two states, Obama has much less chance of carrying New Hampshire than Iowa, especially if his opponent is Romney who is — we said is well known there and has ties there. He is not popular in New Hampshire. All the polls have shown that consistently. He’ll have a difficult time carrying New Hampshire. I would bet if you could get an Obama person to say what was the map that they would have assuming that they barely got over the 270 mark needed for an electoral vote, what’s on that map? I would guess that Iowa would be on it and New Hampshire would not.
One of the interesting things in New Hampshire that I should mention is the influence of the Union Leader newspaper. For years, the Union Leader, which is the only statewide paper in New Hampshire, has played an outsized role in New Hampshire Republican politics. It’s… the person that has supported hasn’t always won, but a recent study showed that, I think by Nate Silver of the New York Times, was that the endorsement of the Union Leader is definitely worth a number of points. That candidates who were endorsed by the Union Leader gained strength afterwards. A couple weeks ago they endorsed Speaker Gingrich as their candidate. That’s undoubtedly one of the factors in his rise to 23% in the Marist Poll, and it will be a factor because when the Union Leader endorses someone, they don’t just write one editorial and then go back to their knitting. There will be more front page editorials in the Union Leader, and not only will they spend some time supporting Gingrich, but they will be beating up on the candidates they don’t want, and number one on that list is Mitt Romney. So, that is going to part of the dynamic here. It will help whoever emerges from Iowa as the leader of that conservative group, and, at the moment, it looks like it will be Speaker Gingrich.
Carl, I’ve got to ask you with everything that’s going on in my business, people are not reading newspapers as much, so does the Union Leader still have the influence it once had?
Well, you know it’s interesting in New Hampshire. It’s the closest thing to a statewide newspaper. Television, there’s only really one major television station in New Hampshire, WMUR in Manchester. Now, of course, they get news on cable, and they get a lot of Boston TV in New Hampshire, but New Hampshire outlets — New Hampshire has an interesting group of newspapers. I know a fair amount about it because my son, Ben, works for the Concord Monitor. There’s a string of local regional papers in New Hampshire, most of them dailies but some weeklies, and which have a fair amount of readership in their local area. The Union Leader has more influence. Manchester is the biggest city in New Hampshire. It has a bigger readership, and also what the Union Leader does gets trumpeted by TV. It’s always a big thing. What some of the smaller papers do doesn’t get as much as publicity. So, I think it’s less than it once was, but all signs are it does have influence and especially on the Republican side.
Carl, it’s always interesting to talk presidential politics with you. We’re getting to that time when the rubber meets the road, and I look forward to visiting with you again real soon.
Listen to Part 6:
Looking at the president’s re-election chances, nearly half of registered voters nationally — 48% — report they definitely plan to vote against Mr. Obama while 38% say they plan to support him. 14% are unsure. Little has changed on this question since McClatchy-Marist last reported it in September. At that time, 49% said they would not vote for the president while 36% thought they would. 15%, at the time, were unsure.
“All signs point to a hotly contested election next fall,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “What’s especially interesting in these numbers is that President Obama scores higher against his potential opponents than his approval rating or those who say they will definitely vote for him.”
When up against potential opponents vying for the Republican nomination, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney pose the greatest challenge to President Obama.
- Obama and Gingrich are in a virtual dead heat. 47% of registered voters nationally back the president while 45% support Gingrich. Eight percent are undecided.
o By party, Gingrich — 47% — has a slight advantage over President Obama — 41% — among independent voters. Not surprisingly, most Democratic voters — 88% — favor the president while most Republicans – 84% — back Gingrich.
- When up against Mitt Romney, 48% support President Obama compared with 44% for Romney. Eight percent are undecided. In McClatchy-Marist’s September survey, 46% backed Obama while 44% were for Romney. 10%, then, were undecided.
o A majority of independent voters – 55% — back Romney while 39% support Obama. Eight in ten Republican voters — 80% — are for Romney while 85% of Democratic voters are behind Obama.
- The president has an eight percentage point lead against Ron Paul. In this matchup, nearly half — 49% — say they plan to vote for the president while 41% believe they will cast their ballot for Paul. One in ten — 10% — is undecided.
o Independent voters divide. 44% support the president while 42% back Paul. Not surprisingly, most Democrats — 89% — rally for Obama while nearly eight in ten Republicans — 78% — are for Paul.
- Against Herman Cain, President Obama has a 10 percentage point lead. In this contest, nearly half of registered voters nationally — 49% — say Obama is their choice while 39% are for Cain. 11% are undecided.
o While support divides along party lines, Obama has the advantage among independent voters — 48% are for Obama compared with 38% for Cain. Among Democrats, 87% plan to vote for the president while 80% of Republican voters say they will cast their ballot for Cain.
- When head-to-head with Rick Perry, a slim majority of voters — 51% — are for Obama while 40% support Perry, an 11 percentage point lead for the president. Nine percent are undecided.
- Obama’s advantage widens over Michele Bachmann. In this contest, he outpaces Bachmann by 19 percentage points. Obama receives the support of a majority — 54% — to 35% for Bachmann. 11% are undecided.
Three’s a Crowd for Romney … Obama Widens Lead with Third Party Candidate
If Mitt Romney secures the GOP nomination, a third party candidate would spell trouble. Whereas Obama and Romney run competitively when head-to-head, Obama widens his lead with an independent candidate in the race. When Donald Trump enters the mix as an independent candidate, a plurality — 45% — support Obama, 36% back Romney, and 13% are for Trump. Seven percent are undecided.
If Ron Paul does not receive his party’s nomination and chooses to run on an independent line, 42% are for Obama while 33% are behind Romney. A notable 19% support Paul, and 6% are undecided.
Slight Bounce in Obama’s Approval Rating … Voters Remain Down on Handling of Economy
President Obama’s approval rating has edged up slightly. 43% of registered voters nationally currently approve of the job the president is doing in office while half — 50% — disapprove, and 7% are unsure.
When McClatchy-Marist last reported this question in September, the president’s approval rating was at its all-time low of 39%. At that time, 52% disapproved of Mr. Obama’s performance in office while 9% were unsure.
However, there has been little change on how voters view the president’s handling of the economy and foreign policy.
Nearly six in ten voters — 59% — disapprove of the way Mr. Obama is dealing with the economy while 36% approve, and 4% are unsure. In September, 61% gave the president low marks on the economy while 33% gave him a thumbs-up. Six percent, at the time, were unsure.
Looking at President Obama’s handling of foreign policy, voters remain divided. 49% approve while 45% disapprove, and 6% are unsure.
When McClatchy-Marist last reported this question in April, 48% disapproved, and 46% approved. Six percent, then, were unsure.
And, voters remain divided about the president’s favorability. Nearly half — 49% — have an unfavorable impression of the president while 47% have a favorable one, and 4% are unsure. Similar proportions of voters shared these views in September. At that time, 48% had a negative view of the president, 46% had a positive one, and 5% were unsure.
Americans Remain Pessimistic about the Future of the Nation
When thinking about the direction of the country, seven in ten adults nationally — 70% — think the nation is moving on the wrong path while one in four — 25% — say it is traveling on the right one. Four percent are unsure.
There has been little change on this question since McClatchy-Marist last reported it in September. At that time, 73% believed the country was on the wrong track while 22% said it was on the right one. Five percent, at the time, were unsure.
Making Political Waves in 2012? More Think Tea Party will Have Larger Impact than OWS
Which movement do voters think will have the greater influence over the outcome of the 2012 presidential election? Half of registered voters — 50% — believe the Tea Party will have a larger impact than the Occupy Wall Street movement. However, about one-third — 33% — say the Occupy Wall Street movement will have more influence. Five percent say neither will affect the result, and less than 1% thinks both will have an impact. 11% are unsure.
However, there is a split decision on which movement comes closer to voters’ views. 40% say the Tea Party movement better reflects their beliefs while the same proportion — 40% — report Occupy Wall Street does. 10% think neither mirrors their views while less than 1% say both do. Nine percent are unsure.
How many voters support these two movements? Looking at the Tea Party, 66% of voters do not back the movement while 25% do. Nine percent are unsure.
When it comes to the Occupy Wall Street movement, 60% do not support it while 29% do. 11% of registered voters are unsure.
- Nearly half of Republican voters — 49% — back the Tea Party movement while 27% of independent voters and just 5% of Democratic voters say the same.
- Looking at the Occupy Wall Street movement, Democratic voters divide with 43% saying they do back the movement and the same proportion — 43% — saying they do not. 30% of independent voters and 11% of Republican voters support the movement.
In this national McClatchy-Marist Poll, Newt Gingrich has joined the top tier of candidates vying for the 2012 Republican nomination for president.
Among Republican and Republican leaning independents, here is how the contest stands:
- 23% for Mitt Romney
- 19% for Newt Gingrich
- 17% for Herman Cain
- 10% for Ron Paul
- 8% for Rick Perry
- 5% for Michele Bachmann
- 1% for Jon Huntsman
- 1% for Rick Santorum
- 17% are undecided
“The race for the GOP nomination has taken yet another dramatic turn,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Now, the top tier is crowded as Newt Gingrich has taken his place alongside Mitt Romney and Herman Cain. Could anyone imagine a more unsettled contest?”
The race is still very fluid. Only 30% of Republicans and Republican leaning independents are firmly committed to their choice of candidate while 42% somewhat support their pick. A notable 28% say they might cast their ballot for someone else.
When McClatchy-Marist last reported this question in September, an identical 30% said they strongly supported their candidate while nearly four in ten — 39% — were somewhat in their candidate’s corner, and 31% thought they might change their mind.
Looking at the support of the top tier candidates, 43% of Gingrich’s backers say they are firmly committed to their choice of candidate. This compares with 31% of Republicans and Republican leaning independents who are behind Cain and 30% of Romney’s supporters who have a similar level of support for their pick.
Shared Values, Experience Most Important Candidate Qualities
33% of Republicans and Republican leaning independents think a candidate who shares their values is key when deciding who to support while 27% believe experience is most important. About one in four Republicans and Republican leaning independents — 23% — say a candidate who is closest to them on the issues passes their litmus test while 13% believe electability is the most important quality a candidate should have. Four percent are unsure.
There has been little change on this question since September. At that time, 35% said shared values topped their list while 26% thought experience mattered most. One in five — 20% — wanted a candidate who was closest to them on the issues, and 17% thought the ability to defeat President Obama was key. Two percent, then, were unsure.
- 22% of those who believe shared values are key back Romney while 21% support Cain.
- Among Republicans and Republican leaning independents who think experience matters most, Gingrich receives the backing of 25% compared with 20% for Romney.
- Looking at Republicans and Republican leaning independents who favor a candidate who is closest to them on the issues, Romney receives the support of 28% while Gingrich takes 21%.
- Romney garners the support of 26% who want a candidate who can defeat President Barack Obama in next year’s general election, and Gingrich is backed by 23% of these voters.
Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations, About Seven in Ten Want Cain to Stay in Race
What impact are the accusations of sexual harassment having on Cain’s candidacy? 69% of Republicans and Republican leaning independents don’t think Cain should drop out of the race while 22% believe he should. Nine percent are unsure.
However, Cain’s reputation hasn’t been cleared in the court of public opinion. While 29% of Republicans and Republican leaning independents believe Cain didn’t do anything wrong, 34% think he did something unethical but not illegal. And, 11% go as far as to say his actions were against the law. A notable 26% are unsure.
And, although nearly half — 48% — thinks the sexual harassment accusations lobbed at Cain are mostly being made to ruin his reputation, 28% believe they are based in fact. 24% are unsure.
McClatchy News Service article: Poll: Romney retakes lead in GOP race, Gingrich moves to second
Mitt Romney and Herman Cain are in a tight battle as they vie for the support of Iowa’s likely Republican caucus-goers. And, with a notable proportion yet to choose a candidate, the race in the Hawkeye State is very competitive.
Here is how the contest stands among likely Republican caucus-goers:
- 23% for Mitt Romney
- 20% for Herman Cain
- 11% for Ron Paul
- 10% for Rick Perry
- 10% for Michele Bachmann
- 4% for Newt Gingrich
- 3% for Rick Santorum
- 1% for Jon Huntsman
- 1% for Gary Johnson
- 16% are undecided
“Right now, Iowa is shaping up as a two candidate contest. But, caucus participation is always the key in this low-turnout environment,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Watch for the strength of the candidates’ field organizations to move poll numbers and determine the eventual winner.”
How does the contest shape up when those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate are considered? 26% of likely Republican caucus-goers including those who are leaning toward a candidate support Romney. One in five — 20% — favor Cain, and 12% back Paul. Bachmann and Perry each receive 11%, 5% are behind Gingrich while Santorum garners 3%. One percent is for Huntsman while the same proportion — 1% — throws their support behind Johnson. One in ten — 10% — is still undecided.
Iowa’s pool of potential participants for Iowa’s Republican Presidential Caucus is more undecided. 23% are for Romney, 16% support Cain, and 12% choose Paul. 10% back Perry while the same proportion — 10% — favors Bachmann. Four percent rally for Gingrich, 2% support Santorum, and Huntsman and Johnson each receive 1%. A notable one in five — 20% — is undecided.
- Herman Cain — 31% — leads among likely Republican caucus-goers who support the Tea Party.
- 41% of likely Republican caucus-goers who strongly support the Tea Party back Herman Cain.
- Nearly one in four likely Republican caucus-goers who plan to participate for the first time — 24% — support Romney. 16% are behind Cain, and 14% back Paul.
- Among likely Republican caucus-goers who are Evangelical Christians, Cain receives 24% of the vote to 23% for Romney.
- 24% of Conservative likely Republican caucus-goers support Cain while 21% back Romney.
Slightly More than Four in Ten Strongly Support Candidate
There is plenty of time for movement within this Republican field. Among likely Republican caucus-goers, only 41% report they strongly support their choice of candidate, including 48% of Tea Party supporters. 36% say they somewhat support their pick, and 20% might change their mind. Three percent are unsure.
- 56% of likely Republican caucus-goers who support Cain are firmly committed to him. 29% of likely Republican caucus-goers who back Romney have a similar level of commitment.
What Matters Most? Values and Issues Top Check List
30% of Iowa’s likely Republican caucus-goers say they want a GOP candidate who shares their values while a similar proportion — 29% — prefer one who is closest to their position on the issues. One in five — 20% — say a candidate who can defeat President Obama in the general election tops their list of factors for a candidate while 17% want someone with experience. Four percent are unsure.
- Among likely Republican caucus-goers who think a candidate’s position on the issues is the most important, Cain and Paul each receive the support of 21%. 17% of these voters are behind Romney.
- 24% of likely Republican caucus-goers who cite shared values as the key factor support Cain while 21% back Romney.
- Looking at likely Republican caucus-goers who think a Republican candidate should be able to defeat the president, 26% rally for Cain while 24% tout Romney.
- Romney receives the support of a plurality — 42% — of likely Republican caucus-goers who say experience trumps all other qualities in a Republican candidate.
Competitive Race Between Obama and Romney…Obama Outpaces Perry
In a hypothetical contest between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, the two are neck and neck among registered voters in Iowa. Obama receives 43% of the vote to Romney’s 40%. 17% of registered voters are undecided. In 2008, Obama carried Iowa handily against John McCain.
When matched against Rick Perry, Obama leads 46% to 37% for Perry. Nearly one in five — 18% — are undecided.
- Independents make the difference. Romney and Obama are competitive among this group — 39% for Romney and 37% for Obama. Obama, however, leads Perry among this group with 41% supporting Obama and 34% backing Perry.
Obama’s Approval Rating at 42% in Iowa…More Than Two-Thirds View Nation on Wrong Path
Just 42% of registered voters in Iowa approve of the job President Obama is doing in office while 47% disapprove, and 11% are unsure.
- Not surprisingly, 74% of Democrats approve of the president’s job performance while 85% of Republicans disapprove. Nearly half of independents — 48% — are dissatisfied with how Mr. Obama is doing in office.
68% of adults in Iowa believe the nation is moving in the wrong direction while just 21% think it is moving on the proper path. 11% are unsure.
To read the MSNBC story: Romney leads in Iowa and New Hampshire
The Marist Poll’s Lee Miringoff appears on MSNBC:
With the New Hampshire Republican Presidential Primary just months away, Mitt Romney outpaces his GOP rivals in the Granite State.
Here is how the contest stands among likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire:
- 44% for Mitt Romney
- 13% for Herman Cain
- 13% for Ron Paul
- 6% for Rick Perry
- 5% for Jon Huntsman
- 4% for Newt Gingrich
- 2% for Michele Bachmann
- 1% for Rick Santorum
- 1% for Gary Johnson
- 11% are undecided
“It’s a fluid contest and there’s still a long way to go, but Mitt Romney is enjoying somewhat of a home field advantage in neighboring New Hampshire,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “It will take a major change to dislodge him from the top position in this first-in-the-nation primary.”
When those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate are factored into the equation, there is little change. 45% of likely Republican primary voters including leaners back Romney. 13% support Cain while the same proportion — 13% — is behind Paul. Perry garners 7% while Huntsman receives 5% of the vote, and 3% pick Bachmann. Santorum and Johnson each receives 1%, and 8% are undecided.
The potential Republican electorate in New Hampshire, that is, all Republicans and those independents who plan to vote in the primary, shows a similar story. Romney leads with 43% followed by Paul with 14% and Cain with 12%. Perry receives 7% of the potential Republican electorate while 5% are for Huntsman. Three percent back Gingrich, 2% support Bachmann, and Santorum and Johnson each receive 1% of the vote. 12% are undecided.
- Among likely Republican primary voters who support the Tea Party, 37% are behind Romney, 20% are for Cain, and 13% back Paul. Perry receives the support of 6% of these voters.
- 30% of likely Republican primary voters who strongly support the Tea Party back Cain. 28% are behind Romney.
- A majority of likely primary voters who plan on voting in the GOP primary for the first time – 51% — favor Romney.
Likely Voters Lukewarm Toward Candidate of Choice
Just 38% of likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire say they strongly support their choice of candidate, including 44% of likely voters who are Tea Party supporters. 35% report they are somewhat committed to their pick while 26% believe they might vote differently. One percent is unsure.
- 46% of likely Republican primary voters who support Paul and 45% who back Romney are firmly in their respective candidate’s corner. 33% of those who are behind Cain report the same about their pick.
Issues, Values Matter Most to Granite State Likely Republican Primary Voters
When it comes to deciding upon a candidate, 30% of likely Republican primary voters say someone who is closest to them on the issues is the key. 28% report shared values is the most important quality in a candidate. More than one in five — 22% — think the experience to govern is the quality they would most like to see while 19% emphasize someone who can defeat President Barack Obama in the general election. Two percent are unsure.
- More than six in ten likely Republican primary voters who think experience is key — 63% — support Romney. 48% of those who want a candidate who has the potential to defeat the president also throw their support behind Romney.
- Although his support isn’t as strong, Romney also leads among those who view a candidate’s stand on the issues to be the most important attribute in a candidate — 38% — and among those who prefer a candidate who shares their values — 35%.
From the Primary to the General…Romney Leads Obama, but Prez tops Perry
If Romney were to face off against President Obama in next year’s general election, nearly half of registered voters in New Hampshire — 49% — say they would support Romney. Four in ten — 40% — report they would back the president, and 11% are undecided. In 2008, Obama won New Hampshire by nine percentage points over John McCain.
However, it’s a different story if Perry challenges the president. In this hypothetical contest, the president leads 46% to Perry’s 40%. 14% are undecided.
- Independent voters are the key. Romney receives the backing of 46% of independent voters. Perry, however, is supported by just 35% of these voters.
Obama Approval Rating at 38%…Nearly Three in Four Say Nation is Moving in Wrong Direction
Just 38% of registered voters in New Hampshire approve of the job President Barack Obama is doing in office while a majority — 53% — disapproves. Nine percent are unsure.
- Opinions divide along party lines with 73% of Democrats saying they approve of the president’s job performance and 86% of Republicans reporting they disapprove. 51% of independents are dissatisfied with how the president is doing in office.
Almost three quarters of New Hampshire adults — 73% — think the country is moving in the wrong direction while 19% believe it is travelling along the right path. Eight percent are unsure.
To read the MSNBC story: Romney leads in Iowa and New Hampshire
The Marist Poll’s Lee Miringoff appears on MSNBC:
The Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary are just months away. With so much attention given to these early contests, what are the implications for the current field of Republican candidates? The Marist Poll’s John Sparks speaks about this issue, the contest on the national level, and President Barack Obama’s re-election strategy with Marist Poll Analyst and syndicated political columnist Carl Leubsdorf who writes a weekly column for The Dallas Morning News.
Listen to Part 1 of the Interview:
Carl, we’re three months away from the Iowa caucuses. So, where we are today with a GOP candidate?
Mitt Romney is, as he’s been for some time, the frontrunner, but he’s — in one sense he’s not a very strong fron-trunner. If you look at the Republican polls, he’s polling between a quarter and a third of the Republican vote. He hasn’t gone up much. He hasn’t gone down much. He’s sort of stable there. And if you look at the more conservative candidates, and I’ll include just about everyone else in the field except Ron Paul, who I think is a special case, they’re polling about 50% of the Republican vote, but the problem is, of course, that it’s all divided up. And when Perry came into the race, it first was going to be Michele Bachmann, and she had that good debate performance in June and suddenly she started gaining, and then Perry came into the race and then everyone sort of — the conservatives sort of shifted over to him. Now he’s had some problems and some bad debates. He’s clearly not fully ready for what’s come up. He’s had the controversy over the racist word on that ranch his family leases in Texas, and he’s dropped, and Herman Cain has come up. It’s like the vote is shifting from one of them to the other while Romney is over there on the other side. So, eventually one of two things will happen. Either the conservative vote will consolidate behind someone, and Perry is still the best chance for that, or Romney might be able to win against the very divided field if they all sort of stay in and no one can get enough votes to beat him. If in Iowa, if in the Iowa caucuses, the field is divided enough, it is not impossible that Mitt Romney could win the Iowa caucuses with a rather low percentage. That’s happened before that the winning candidate didn’t have that much support, and he’s already the favorite in New Hampshire. If he won in Iowa, he’d have a good chance of winning in New Hampshire, and history tells us that Iowa/New Hampshire double winners are almost always nominated.
This business of Rick Perry renting the ranch with a name that’s a racial epithet, is this going to be a fatal blow to his campaign do you think?
Well, I don’t think it’s fatal in itself. His… and I think his bigger problems are two other things. One is that his position on immigration, which is a very volatile issue and where Republicans feel especially strongly against the flood of illegal immigrants who’ve come into this country, because of the fact that Texas passed a law granting in-state tuition to illegal aliens, and Perry has strongly supported it, that is a very unpopular position in the Republican Party. That was one of the big factors, I think, in his loss of support in the Florida Straw Poll, and the other is that he has not performed well in debates. Again, it’s not all that surprising. He came into the race late. He’s not spent a lot of time dealing with some of these national and international issues, and it’s sort of the classic situation that the successful politician on the state level, be he a senator or a governor, doesn’t realize until he gets into it how difficult running for president is. Every issue that was visited before is going to be revisited, and he’s suddenly expected to be an expert on all sorts of subject that he never thought much about.
Listen to Part 2:
I want ask you about Herman Cain. I saw a poll today that has Romney and Cain tied on top. Do you think that we could really see a presidential election with two African Americans facing off?
Well, I think we could see that some day, but I don’t think we can — likely to see it in 2012. Herman Cain is basically the “none of the above candidate.” I think that’s really for the conservatives. Now he has a lot of appeal to the conservative portion of the Republican Party, the Tea Party crowd. He’s a terrific speaker. He’s very dynamic. I remember, I have one of my sons, who does some work in politics, told me last summer, said, “The guy you really ought to watch out for is Herman Cain.” And, he does very well when he speaks before these conventions, but he’s really the “none of the above candidate.” I think no serious Republican politician or analyst expects him, in fact, to be nominated, but it’s a sign of Perry’s problems that his support suddenly shifted to Cain.
You and I spoke back in June about Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Sarah Palin. Do you believe any of these folks are still serious players?
Well, I think Ron Paul is a serious player to the extent that he’s always going to get his 10-to-12%. He has a very strong following. It’s interesting, I wrote a column in the Dallas Morning News about the fact that the press doesn’t take Paul seriously, and they never pay any attention, and I discussed some things that he had said at a breakfast I was at with him for reporters, and he said, you know, that some of the economic stuff he talks about, he admits it’s a little arcane and that he hasn’t explained it very well. Paul’s not going anywhere, but he’s also not going to be nominated.
Now as for the other ones, Sarah Palin, as far as we know, is not in the race and has no plans to enter, and that hasn’t changed any. Of the others, I would guess that most of them have no real chance. I don’t think Michele Bachmann has a chance. I don’t think Newt Gingrich has a chance. The one in that group who might conceivably have a chance is Rick Santorum, and I say that only because he’s come across in the debates as a pretty intelligent guy. He’s got strong views which fit with the Republican Party. He knows what he’s talking about, and he doesn’t do some of these verbal shenanigans that Gingrich does denouncing the reporters, and he served two terms in the United States Senate, so he has a background of some experience. He doesn’t have much money and he’s just sort of hanging in there, but it’s conceivable that if the Perry candidacy would not get its moorings and would not recover that he’s the one in that group who just might have an outside chance to make a strong showing in Iowa and somehow get into this race.
The question in the end is: If Perry doesn’t recover to be a strong foe for Romney, can one of these other people do it? And what happens to the many Republicans who are very cool to the Romney candidacy? Do they just accept it? We’ve sort of run out of new candidates.
Listen to Part 3:
Yeah, but you know, Carl, if Mitt Romney is the fallback, is that really so bad for Republicans?
As a neutral analyst, I think it’s probably pretty good for Republicans. By all signs, he’s still the strongest general election candidate they have. He consistently runs better against President Obama than the other candidates. He’s a much better candidate for the party in the North than I think Perry would be, who has — beyond all the issues we’ve talked about, has — there are some — he’s so culturally Texan and Southern that that might be a handicap and appealing to moderate independent voters in Northern states. Romney, who is from Michigan and served in Massachusetts, would have some appeal there. Now he’s got some problems, most of which are getting very little attention now because of all the to-do about Christie and Herman Cain and Perry. For example, his position on immigration is more hard line than Perry’s, and that could be a problem with Hispanic voters who will be very crucial in states like Colorado and New Mexico and Nevada. He was strongly opposed to the administration’s bailout of the auto industry as he was to most of the administration’s economic policies. Well, the auto industry bailout of Chrysler and GM seems to have worked. It’s one of the success stories the administration has, and there are a lot of auto workers in Wisconsin and Ohio and in Michigan who are probably very happy about it and might not like a candidate who is against it, so there are some issues out there.
I saw a Rasmussen Report that said “A generic Republican wins over Obama 47 to 41 among likely voters.” Do you think that any of these Republicans could defeat the President?
Well, we don’t know that now. If the President’s approval level is in the low 40s and if unemployment is 9% and if more than 70% of the country think that the country is going in the wrong direction, historically it says that it’s very hard for that president to get re-elected, and that would be a real problem. However if things improve a little bit, it may really depend on which Republican runs against him. The one… the other warning signal for Obama in the current situation — current polls, is in that poll that you mentioned, Obama had 41%, but even in a number of polls that show him ahead in major states, he’s ahead like 45 to 43 or 46 to 44 or 44 to 41. An incumbent who’s polling in the mid 40s historically is going to have a lot of problems in an election because that probably means that the — all the ones he doesn’t have are going probably going to be against him in the end.
Do you think the main issue, though, still is going to be the pocketbook and jobs?
Sure, barring something happening. I mean it’s always possible something would happen in the month before the election to take attention. Our attention spans seem to be very short on these things, and something becomes a big issue. Remember when everyone said that the BP oil spill in the Gulf would be the defining issue for Obama, well, that didn’t last very long, and although the anti-terrorism policy has been very successful in this administration because of the ability to kill major Al-Qaeda leaders starting with Osama bin Laden and a whole bunch of others. That’s not getting very much attention these days, so it’s the economy, and it’s the outlook for the economy isn’t very good. It’s as likely we’ll have a double dip recession that will have — than that we’ll have a speedy recovery.
Listen to Part 4:
Carl, people complain that our government is broken, needs fixing, but what about the presidential election process? It’s media-driven, and isn’t the problem that the process is more about headlines and controversy than finding an effective executive who’s right for the moment?
To a considerable degree, yes, although I think that it’s interesting. I mean the cover — the news coverage is certainly that way, and it’s focused on these things. I think the voters, and especially in some of these early states who are much maligned because Iowa and New Hampshire, which come first in the process, are not typical states. They’re much wider than the country as a whole. Iowa is much older than the country as a whole. Still the people there, I’ve been in those states for a number of elections, and they take it very seriously. They listen to the candidates. They discuss issues. The press may not be — on cable television may not be discussing the issues, but when they have town meetings with candidates, that’s what they want to know is where these candidates stand on the issues, and that in many cases determines how they vote. One of the problems is — with the system is that that’s true in the early states, but when a bunch of all these other states compiled in afterwards, it’s sort of like a ping-pong effect, and what happens earlier has an enormous effect on what happens later. That’s why, for example, while Mitt Romney is certainly ahead in New Hampshire now, he has a home there and he’s campaigned there before, the day after the Iowa caucuses, those numbers in New Hampshire are all going to change. If he does well in Iowa, he ought to be able to hold that lead, but if he does very poorly there, and one of the other candidates, whether it’s Perry or Santorum or Cain, does very well, believe me, there will be a quick boom for that candidate in New Hampshire in the five or eight days between the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.
Listen to Part 5:
Carl, while the Republicans are posturing, what’s Obama’s strategy?
Well, for most of this year, President Obama tried — continued to try something that he talked about a lot during in the 2008 campaign and the debt-ceiling fight tried to — which was to try to be in the middle ground, to be, as the White House people used to call it, the adult in the room and to work our compromises with the Republicans in Congress on some of these economic issues and some of these budget issues. Not only did the effort fail, but the result of it is that everyone’s — the voters’ attitude towards almost everyone in politics went down. And although you’ll find many polls that show that more people favor the Obama position versus the Congressional Republican position, it hasn’t helped Obama’s approval rating, which is — continued to hover in the low 40s. Starting with Labor Day, the White House has switched course. When the president presented his jobs program, which by the way included some things that many Republicans have supported before, they show no sign of interest in supporting now, basically what President Obama was proposing was a proposal that was not likely to be approved, but which he could take the country and use as an example to say, “This is what I’m trying to get and this what the Republicans are against.” It’s quite clear that the Republicans are not going to make any major deal in part because they can’t. Even the leaders who are interested — were interested in dealing with him, such as Speaker Boehner, found themselves constrained by the more hawkish members of their constituency in the House of Representative, and even when they’ve — now both sides agreed on what the budget level should be for the year that just started, the House — some of these House Republicans still trying to cut them even more. So, I think the White House recognizes there’s not going to be a deal on jobs program, and they’re going to use this politically as much as possible. When the president was in Dallas recently, he pointed out — he sort of fingered Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader, and said, “What kind of a jobs program is he for? Why is he against everything I propose?” And it’s sort of the Harry Truman policy — procedure in 1948. And Harry Truman in the 1948 election was in deep trouble, and at the time of the Democratic Convention, there was a lot of dissatisfaction, and they all thought they were going to lose, and he electrified that convention, and the way he did it was he made a speech at 1:30 in the morning in which he called Congress back into special session and said he was going to make them consider all the things that they had refused to do. Well, they didn’t consider them anymore than they had before, but he had an issue, and he took the issue of the do nothing Congress to the country, and Obama is doing something of the same thing, and we’ll see how that works.
Harry Truman also surprised everyone on Election Day in 1948. Is Obama going to be a Harry Truman you think?
Well, one reason they surprised him is because polling wasn’t as good as it is now. With modern polling, it — you’re very rarely enormously surprised. Now the result can be slightly different from the polling. You could have one candidate ahead by two points and then the other one wins by three. In presidential campaigns, the polling has been quite good lately, but it’s — a lot is going to happen between now and November of 2012, and the situation is going to be affected by external events, going to be affected by the course of the campaign. Obama said the other day that he’s the underdog in the election, and that’s probably true, but a lot of people in Washington would not be totally shocked if in the end he gets elected. That generic Republican you talked about doesn’t exist, he’s going to have to beat a real live one, and each of them has his shortcomings.
The NBC News/Marist Poll for January’s GOP New Hampshire Primary (it really won’t be in December, will it?) and the Iowa Caucus reveal some very interesting political tidbits. Sure, we’re still several months away from these much awaited events but likely New Hampshire voters and likely Iowa caucus-goers are picking sides.
No big surprise so far in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary. New Hampshire neighbor Mitt Romney has a wide lead over the GOP field. Iowa may eventually be the table setter for whom Romney has to take on in New Hampshire. But, no clear challenger has emerged at present.
The only danger sign for Romney in New Hampshire is that only 38% of likely voters are firmly committed to a candidate. 45% who back Romney are firmly committed to him. Better than the average, but not a lock.
Iowa, however, is a different ballgame, and represents more precarious terrain for Romney. Romney is well-known but finds himself in a close battle among likely Iowa caucus-goers with Herman Cain. Is Cain enjoying his 15 days of fame, or is this where the anybody-but-Romney caucus-goers coalesce?
Like New Hampshire, Hawkeye staters are still lukewarm to the field. Only 41% of likely caucus attendees are firmly committed to their choice. But, 56% of Cain’s backers are solidly behind him compared to only 29% of Romney’s supporters. That has to concern the Romney camp. Also, of the four factors motivating likely Iowa GOP caucus-goers, the good news for Romney is he has the support of the plurality of those who say experience matters most. The bad news for Romney is that values, issues, and electability count more to likely Iowa caucus-goers than the candidate’s resume and, in each of these other factors, Romney has not established an advantage.
And, then there’s the Tea Party. 50% of likely Iowa caucus attendees identify with the Tea Party. Cain leads Romney by 31% to 15% with these voters. But, among likely Iowa caucus-goers who strongly support the Tea Party, which amounts to one in five likely participants, Cain’s advantage over Romney grows to 41% to 7%. This also has to be a chief worry for team Romney. It is something we will be watching closely in future NBC News/Marist Polls.
President Barack Obama has his work cut out for him on the campaign trail. According to this McClatchy-Marist Poll, 49% of registered voters nationally say they definitely plan to vote against the president in next year’s election. 36% say they will cast their ballot for Mr. Obama, and 15% are unsure. This is the highest proportion of voters since November 2010 who say they don’t think they will back the president in his re-election bid. At that time, 48% said they would definitely vote against him.
When McClatchy-Marist previously reported this question in August, 40% thought they would definitely vote against President Obama, 40% believed they would definitely vote for him, and a notable one in five — 20% — were unsure.
“On the one hand, President Obama’s re-election numbers are very low. On the other hand, no GOP potential opponent has stepped up to the plate and demonstrated sufficient electoral power to beat him,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.
- A majority of independent voters — 53% — say they will not support the president, 28% believe they will, and 20% are unsure. There has been an increase in the proportion of independents who say they definitely will not vote for Mr. Obama. In August, those proportions stood at 40%, 35%, and 25%, respectively.
- Most Republicans — 89% — plan to back someone else. Last month, 77% reported the same.
- Little has changed among Democrats. 70% say they will cast their ballot for the president while 69% shared these views in McClatchy-Marist’s previous survey.
There has also been an increase in the proportion of registered voters who believe, regardless of who they support, the Republican challenger will defeat President Obama in next year’s election. A majority of the national electorate — 52% — says the GOP candidate will be victorious, 38% believe the president will be re-elected, and one in ten — 10% — is undecided.
When McClatchy-Marist last reported this question in June, voters divided. 44% said Mr. Obama will be re-elected to another four years in office while 42% reported the Republican candidate will claim the White House. 15%, at that time, were undecided.
Guiliani Strongest GOPer Against Obama
Despite weak re-election numbers, President Obama either leads or is competitive with most of his Republican challengers. There is one exception, unannounced candidate former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
- Giuliani receives 49% to Obama’s 42% among registered voters. Nine percent are undecided. In August, 48% backed the president, 43% supported Giuliani, and 9% were undecided.
o A slim majority of independent voters — 51% — supports Giuliani while only 37% throw their support behind Obama. 13% are undecided.
- President Obama is neck and neck with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. 46% say they are for Obama while 44% report they back Romney. One in ten — 10% — is undecided. In McClatchy-Marist’s previous survey, 46% supported Obama, 41% tossed their support behind Romney, and 13%, at the time, were undecided.
o Among independent voters, 44% are behind Romney, 40% back the president, and 16% are undecided. In August, the president received the support of 41% of independents to Romney’s 35%. 23% were undecided.
- When up against former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, 49% of voters say they are for Obama while 44% rally for the unannounced Palin. Six percent are undecided. However, this is the first time that Obama has fallen below 50% in this hypothetical scenario. And, the president has lost ground since the last time McClatchy-Marist reported this question. In August, a majority — 56% — tossed their support behind Obama while 35% backed Palin. Nine percent, at the time, were undecided.
o Among independent voters, 47% tout Palin while 43% are behind Obama. In August, 48% backed the president while 42% were for Palin.
o Palin has gained some support within her Republican base. 81% now say they are for Palin compared with 60% last month.
o 87% of voters who support the Tea Party rally behind Palin compared with 70% last month.
- Obama’s lead over Texas Governor Rick Perry has shrunk. 50% of voters support Obama while 41% are for Perry, a nine percentage point lead for the president. Nine percent are undecided. Last month, Obama outpaced Perry by 19 percentage points, 52% to 33%. 14% were undecided.
o Perry has made some in-roads with independent voters. They now divide. 43% support Obama, and 43% are behind Perry. 13% are undecided. In August, 49% of independents backed Obama and 30% supported Perry. 22% were undecided.
o Perry has also gained the support of more Republicans. 87% now support him compared with 74% last month.
o 84% of Tea Party supporters are for Perry. 69% had this view in August.
- 53% of voters support Obama while 40% are for Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Seven percent are undecided. Similar proportions shared these views in August when Obama garnered the support of 52%. 35% were for Bachmann, and 13% were undecided.
o Bachmann has gained some ground within her Republican base. 86% now back her while 73% did so in August.
Perry Leads Republican Contenders
In the quest for the Republican nomination, Texas Governor Rick Perry has an eight percentage point advantage over former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
Among Republicans and Republican leaning independents, here is how the contest stands:
- 30% for Texas Governor Rick Perry
- 22% for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney
- 12% for Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann
- 7% for Texas Congressman Ron Paul
- 6% for former Georgia Congressman Newt Gingrich
- 5% for businessman Herman Cain
- 2% for former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum
- 1% for former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman
- 15% are undecided
But, how firmly are Republicans and Republican leaning independents in their candidates’ camp? Three in ten — 30% — report they strongly support their choice of candidate, nearly four in ten — 39% — say they somewhat support their candidate, and 31% think they might vote differently.
The top two candidates — Rick Perry and Mitt Romney — share similar intensity of support from their backers. 30% of GOP voters who back Perry firmly support him while 26% of those who are behind Romney say the same.
The story changes for the Republican field when two prominent Republicans come into play. If Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin were to announce their candidacies, here is how the contest stands among Republicans and Republican leaning independents:
- 20% for Texas Governor Rick Perry
- 14% for former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani
- 13% for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney
- 13% for former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin
- 6% for Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann
- 6% for former Georgia Congressman Newt Gingrich
- 6% for Texas Congressman Ron Paul
- 4% for businessman Herman Cain
- 2% for former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum
- 2% for former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman
- 14% are undecided
However, 72% of Republicans and Republican leaning independent voters do not want Palin to seek the office, 24% do, and 4% are unsure.
Giuliani fares somewhat better, but nearly six in ten — 58% — do not want him to enter the race either. 32% would like to see him step back onto the national stage, and 10% are unsure.
Shared Values Tops List of Candidates’ Qualities
More than one-third of Republicans and Republican leaning independents — 35% — say it’s most important that a Republican presidential candidate share their values. 26% want a candidate who has the experience to govern, and 20% prefer a candidate who is closest to them on the issues. The ability to defeat President Obama is most important to 17%, and 2% are unsure.
Candidates’ Tea Party Backing Not Top of Mind for Seven in Ten Republicans
How important is it that a Republican candidate has the support of the Tea Party? 70% of Republicans and Republican leaning independents report it makes no difference to their vote. More than one in five — 22% — say it makes them more likely to vote for a candidate while only 8% think it makes them less likely to vote for a candidate.
The proportion of registered voters who are Tea Party supporters has changed little. 27% either strongly support or support the Tea Party while 64% do not. Among those that support the Tea Party, 8% strongly support the movement, and 19% support it. Nine percent are unsure. In McClatchy-Marist’s previous survey, 29% supported the Tea Party movement, 61% did not, and 9% were unsure.