Gingrich, Romney Tie for Lead in GOP 2012 Presidential Race

Politics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 21, 2011   |   12:19PM   |   Washington, DC

Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney are now essentially tied for the lead in the 2012 Republican presidential race, according to a new national poll Gallup released today looking at the candidates seeking to replace pro-abortion President Barack Obama.

Among all Republicans nationwide, Romney is the choice of 20% and Gingrich 19%. Among Republican registered voters, Gingrich is at 22% and Romney at 21%, the new poll found.

Among the other candidates, all of whom are campaigning as pro-life advocates opposed to abortion and taxpayer financing of abortions, the poll of all Republicans finds Herman Cain at 16 percent, Ron Paul at 10 percent, Rick Perry at 8 percent, Michelle Bachmann at 5 percent, and Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum tied at 1 percent apiece. The survey of registered Republicans has Cain also in third at 16 percent, Paul with 9 percent, Perry with 8 percent, Bachmann at 4 percent and Santorum and Huntsman getting one percent.

These results are based on a USA Today/Gallup poll of 1,062 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents conducted Nov. 13-17.

“Compared with the prior poll, conducted Nov. 3-6, Gingrich’s support has increased from 12% to 19% among all Republicans. His support has gone up in each of the last three polls after bottoming out at 4% in August, and is now at his highest for the campaign to date,” Gallup notes. “Meanwhile, Cain, who has been dogged by allegations of sexual harassment, has seen his support dip slightly, from 21% to 16%. However, it remains well above the levels from earlier this year, which were generally in the single digits.”

“Rick Perry’s support also slipped, to 8% in the latest poll, conducted after the two most recent candidate debates, including the Nov. 9 debate in which Perry failed to remember the names of all three cabinet departments he vowed to shut down if elected,” Gallup continued. “Perry’s support has declined in each of the last three updates after peaking at 29% in mid-August, shortly after he entered the race.”

“Romney, meanwhile, has been the leader or tied for the lead in nearly every poll conducted since May, when the Republican field largely came into shape,” Gallup noted.

The poll also split the support of the candidates between conservatives and moderate Republicans.

Conservatives back Gingrich at 23 percent, Romney at 20 percent, Cain at 18 percent, Paul and Perry at 9 percent, Bachmann at 5 percent and Santorum and Huntsman at 1 percent each. Moderates prefer Romney at 20 percent, Gingrich and Cain at 12 percent, Paul at 11 percent, Perry at 8 percent, Huntsman at 2 percent and Santorum at 1 percent.

“Gingrich and Cain appear to have benefited most from the decline in Perry’s support. In Gallup’s August update, when Perry was the overall leader, 33% of conservative Republicans favored him, making him the clear leader in that subgroup. At that time, 16% of conservative Republicans supported Romney, 5% Cain, and 4% Gingrich,” Gallup notes.

Gallup also finds that support for the candidates varies by age, with older Republicans supporting Gingrich and Romney and younger Republicans preferring Cain and Paul.

“Republican presidential nominee preferences vary significantly by age. If the nomination were contested solely among senior citizens, it would be a two-man race between Gingrich (34%) and Romney (28%), with 6 in 10 Republicans aged 65 or older supporting one of those two candidates, and no other candidate above 8% in that age group,” they survey found. “In fact, Gingrich’s support is heavily concentrated among Republicans who are at least 50, while his support is 4% among Republicans younger than 30. This pattern may reflect the fact that he has been out of public office for more than a decade, and thus a less familiar figure to younger Republicans.”

“Cain and Ron Paul do much better among younger than among older Republicans, a consistent finding for Paul throughout the campaign. And while Romney is competitive with the leaders in every age group, his support tends to be greater among older Republicans,” Gallup concludes.