CEOs are not immune to the back and forth politics that make up the U.S. election cycle. Since Chief Executive started election polling in September, CEOs have proven to be just as fickle as the rest of the U.S. A number of candidates have seen a rise and fall in CEO favor.
Despite this, there has been one candidate who has garnered consistent support from the CEO audience: Mitt Romney.
Month after month, CEOs have clearly stated that Romney is the candidate with the most ability to turn around the U.S. economy. In January, CEOs gave Romney, on average, a 6.98 out of 10 on his ability to turn around the economy. His next closest competitors, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, tied with a score of 5.58.
September was the only month where CEOs thought another candidate would take the GOP nomination. Back then, 49 percent of CEOs thought Texas Governor Rick Perry would take the nomination, vs. Romney’s 42 percent. Throughout the rest of 2011, however, Romney reigned supreme. And that support has followed him into 2012. In January, a full 89.4 percent of CEOs thought Romney was the most likely to take the nomination.
Even though Romney’s support stayed steady, favor for the other GOP candidates has ebbed and flowed with the rest of the nation. Herman Cain jumped from 1.7 percent favoring him for the GOP nomination in September, to 24.5 percent in October, 24.3 percent in November, and then he crashed back to 3.5 percent in December.
Just as Cain rose and fell, Rick Perry went quickly from the candidate most likely to win the GOP nomination in September (and favored by 28 percent of CEOs) to being favored by only 4.9 percent of CEOs and a 10.3 percent expectation for the nomination in October.
Gingrich has seen the same rise. With a less than one percent of CEOs expecting Gingrich to take the nomination in September, he rose to 33.4 percent expecting his nomination and 38.8 percent favoring him in December. Gingrich is still the next most-favored candidate behind Romney with 17.5 percent support in January.
Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum have started to see an uptick in support from CEOs in the beginning of the year, but past polling indicates that it might be transient. Romney has held the top spot and is likely to stay there.