Poll: Romney Leads GOP Field in Early States

Poll: Romney Leads GOP Field in Early States

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - October 26, 2011

Mitt Romney leads the Republican presidential field in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida, according to a new CNN/Time poll.

In Iowa, which will hold its caucus first on Jan. 3, Romney leads businessman Herman Cain, 24 percent to 21 percent, among registered Republicans. Texas Rep. Ron Paul rounds out the top three with 12 percent. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who launched a TV ad in the state Wednesday, is tied with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 10 percent. Minnesota Rep Michele Bachmann, who won the Ames Straw Poll in August, clocks in with 6 percent. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who has campaigned heavily across Iowa, receives 2 percent, and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman has 1 percent.

In Iowa, 62 percent say they could change their minds. Romney and Cain are virtually tied among conservatives, 23 percent to 22 percent, though Cain takes the lead among Tea Partiers, 29 percent to 17 percent.

Romney holds a commanding lead in New Hampshire with 40 percent support. Romney governed neighboring Massachusetts for a term and owns a home in the Granite State. Cain places a distant second with 13 percent of the support. Paul is right behind him with 12 percent. Huntsman, whose has banked his candidacy on the state, pulls in 6 percent. None of the remaining candidates receives more than 5 percent of the support. Forty-eight percent of Republicans surveyed say they might change their minds. Unlike in Iowa, independent voters can cast ballots in the New Hampshire primaries. Romney leads among moderates and liberals with 39 percent. Paul is second among this group with 11 percent.

Romney’s lead narrows in South Carolina, where he edges Cain, 25 percent to 23 percent. Paul again comes in third with 12 percent. Perry attracts 11 percent, and Gingrich gets 8 percent. The rest of the contenders receive 4 percent or less, and 56 percent of voters say their picks could change. The winner of the South Carolina primary has gone on to be the GOP nominee in every cycle since 1980.

In Florida, Romney attracts 30 percent support, and Cain again comes in second with 18 percent. Gingrich and Perry tie for third with 9 percent, and Paul garners 6 percent. The rest receive 4 percent or less. In Florida, half of the Republican voters surveyed say they could change their pick.

ORC International conducted the polls in each of these states from Oct. 20-25. The firm surveyed 405 registered Republicans in Iowa, 400 registered Republicans and independents who voted in the 2008 primary in New Hampshire, 400 registered Republicans in South Carolina and 401 registered Republicans in Florida. The sampling error for the poll is plus or minus five percentage points. 

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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