Reporting from Washington—
It’s been a lengthy presidential primary for the GOP, with a wide field of candidates slowly narrowing down to the four current hopefuls. And if a new CNN/ORC poll is any indication, two more candidates, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, should drop out of the race.
For Gingrich and Paul, the numbers look grim. With 60% of those polled wanting Gingrich out, and 61% in favor of Paul departing, it seems like only a matter of time before Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney are the only two contenders in the ring.
The polling also shows a general shift in support away from Santorum, who led Romney in support 34% to 32% in February. Romney now tops the former Pennsylvania senator 36% to 26%. Santorum’s supporters, though fewer in number, do have a greater loyalty to their candidate. Of their respective bases, 53% of Santorum’s supporters strongly back him, while 41% of Romney supporters feel the same.
Also interesting to note is the number of those polled who see Romney’s presidential candidacy as a near-certainty. While neither Gingrich, Santorum nor Paul are seen as almost certain to win the party’s nomination by more than 3%, 26% think Romney all but has the nomination in the bag. An additional 45% see his nomination as very likely, with only Santorum breaking into double digits at 13%.
Much of the poll’s other results also appear to work in Romney’s favor. Of those polled, 69% think Romney can defeat Barack Obama, with just 20% believing the same for Santorum. Sixty percent see Romney as a strong leader, compared to Santorum’s 29%. And 64% think Romney can get the economy moving again, with just 24% associating Santorum with an economy upswing.
Where Romney falls behind Santorum is in the same categories his rivals have often preyed upon, his ability to relate to voters and the stability of his beliefs.
With a 53% to 36% spread, more of those polled think Santorum says what he believes instead of what voters want to hear. Forty-nine percent see Santorum as trustworthy, compared to 37% for Romney. And as for caring about the individual respondents, 47% give Santorum a thumbs-up, with just 34% saying the same for Romney.
The poll, conducted on Saturday and Sunday with 1,014 adults via telephone, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 points. A total of 925 of the respondents were registered voters. For the full results, click here.
Original source: Poll: Majority of GOP voters think Paul, Gingrich should bow out