11/11: Romney Edges GOP Contenders…Gingrich and Cain Battle for Second

McClatchy/Marist National Poll

In this national McClatchy-Marist Poll, Newt Gingrich has joined the top tier of candidates vying for the 2012 Republican nomination for president.

hand casting ballot


Click Here for Complete November 11, 2011 USA McClatchy-Marist Poll Release and Tables

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.

Table: 2012 Republican Presidential Primary

Table: Intensity of Support

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.

Key points:

  • 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.

Table: Most Important Quality in a Republican Presidential Candidate

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.

Table: Should Herman Cain Drop Out of the Race?

Table: Views on Herman Cain’s Actions

Table: Motivation for the Sexual Harassment Accusations against Herman Cain

McClatchy-Marist Poll Methodology

McClatchy News Service article: Poll: Romney retakes lead in GOP race, Gingrich moves to second