CNN Poll: Majority In GOP Say Gingrich And Paul Should End Bids

By: CNN - Posted by Giang Nguyen
By: CNN - Posted by Giang Nguyen

Washington (CNN) - As the GOP presidential primary and caucus calendar nears its fourth month, a new survey indicates most Republicans would like to see Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul drop their bids for the nomination.

And a majority of Republicans questioned in a CNN/ORC International poll say their party's presidential nomination should be determined by the primaries and caucuses rather than at the GOP convention in Tampa, Florida in late August. But according to the survey, a majority of Republicans don't want Rick Santorum to end his campaign for the nomination.

Six out of ten Republicans say that Gingrich should drop out of the race, with 39% saying that the former House speaker should not end his bid. And 61% say Paul should drop out, with 36% saying that the longtime congressman from Texas should continue to campaign for the White House.

Thirty-nine percent of Republicans say Santorum should end his bid, with nearly six in ten saying the former senator from Pennsylvania should not drop out of the race.

"Republican women are particularly supportive of Santorum continuing his bid for the White House," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "More than two-thirds of GOP the women interviewed said that they wanted Santorum to stay in the race, compared to only 51 percent of men."

The same question was also asked of GOP front-runner Mitt Romney, with more than three-quarters saying the former Massachusetts governor should continue his campaign.

According to the poll, which was released Tuesday, 36% of Republicans support Romney for the nomination and 26% back Santorum. It was a different story in February, when the two men were effectively tied in CNN's last national survey, with Santorum at 34% and Romney at 32%. In the new poll, Paul wins support from 17%, with Gingrich at 15%.

"Republicans recognize that Romney is the odds-on favorite to become the party's nominee. Seven in ten think he is almost certain or very likely to win. That perception may explain his rising support from the GOP rank and file," adds Holland.

The poll seems to dispel the notion that if Gingrich dropped out of the race, his supporters would mostly flock to Santorum, considered the other major conservative candidate in the race. A majority of Gingrich supporters questioned say that Romney rather than Santorum is their second choice.

"If you recalculate the GOP horse race using the Gingrich voters' second choice, Romney's lead over Santorum grows to fifteen percentage points, 45% for Romney and 30% for Santorum, compared to the ten-point margin Romney currently has in the four-man field," says Holland.

"Take Paul out of the picture and reallocate his supporters to their second choice and Romney's lead grows to 19 points over Santorum."

While Romney is the choice of more Republicans and has a commanding lead in delegates, the poll indicates his supporters are still lukewarm about him. A majority of Santorum voters say that they strongly support their candidate. But six in ten Romney voters say they don't strongly support Romney. And while Republicans view Romney as a strong leader who can defeat Obama in November and get the economy moving again, Santorum scores higher than Romney on likeability, honesty, compassion, values, and his stands on the issues.
According to CNN's latest delegate estimate, Romney has secured 569 delegates, and needs 575 more to reach the 1,144 needed to clinch the GOP nomination. That equals 47% of the remaining 1,213 delegates up for grabs. The odds get a bit higher for Santorum: According to the CNN estimate, he has 262 delegates, and would need to grab 882 delegates, or 73% of those remaining.

Gingrich has 136 delegates, meaning he would need to win 1,008, or 83% of the remaining delegates, to clinch the nomination. And Paul has 71 delegates according to the CNN estimate, meaning he would need to secure 1,073 delegates, or 88% of those still up for grabs, to become the Republican nominee.

The primary and caucus calendar comes a close in late June, and if no candidate has clinched the nomination, there's a chance it would come down to a contested convention in Tampa.

A majority of those questioned, 53%, say they the GOP nominee should be determined during the primaries, with 43% saying the nominee should be picked at the convention.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International Saturday and Sunday, with 1,014 adults nationwide, including 463 Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP, questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error for questions on the GOP nomination is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.


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