A new CNN/Time/ORC International poll
cements former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s status as front-runner in the Republican presidential campaign. He leads or is tied for the top spot in the first four primary/caucus states, the survey shows.
In Iowa, which is scheduled to convene its caucuses on Jan. 3, Romney leads among registered Republicans with 24 percent support, and businessman Herman Cain places second with 21 percent. That gap is within the poll’s 5 percentage point margin of error.
Texas Rep. Ron Paul takes third with 12 percent support, followed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry tied with 10 percent, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann with 6 percent, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum with 2 percent, and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman with 1 percent.
In New Hampshire, where the primary is expected to take place Jan. 10, Romney leads among Republicans and independents who voted in the 2008 GOP primary, with 40 percent support. Cain takes second with 13 percent support, followed by Paul with 12 percent, Huntsman with 6 percent, Gingrich with 5 percent, Perry with 4 percent, Bachmann with 2 percent, and Santorum with 1 percent.
In South Carolina, which has scheduled its primary for Jan. 21, Romney leads with 25 percent support among Republicans and independents. Cain places second with 23 percent, within the poll’s margin of error. Paul sits in third with 12 percent support, followed by Perry with 11 percent, Gingrich with 8 percent, Bachmann with 4 percent, and Huntsman and Santorum tied with 1 percent.
In Florida, where the primary is to be Jan. 31, Romney leads with 30 percent support among Republican voters. Cain takes second with 18 percent, followed by Gingrich and Perry tied with 9 percent, Paul with 6 percent, Bachmann with 4 percent, and Huntsman and Santorum tied with 1 percent.
Of course, survey respondents aren’t locked into their choices. Less than a third of voters in each state say they feel definite about their selections, with the total ranging from 23 percent to 32 percent.
"Polls taken this far away from a contest are not, and cannot, be a prediction of the ultimate outcome, or even a very good guess of who will turn out to vote next year," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
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