Primary Field Falls Flat with GOP Voters

May 11th, 2011 at 11:35 am | 43 Comments |

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A new Zogby poll makes two things very clear. First, ampoule Republicans are very unexcited about this field. Only one “candidate,” Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey (who maintains that he isn’t running), cracked the 15% mark. Second, GOP voters know more about who they won’t vote for than for whom they will. 50% of respondents say they would “never” vote for Donald Trump. 36% won’t vote for Sarah Palin or Newt Gingrich. 34% have ruled out Mike Huckabee and 32% won’t be casting ballots for Ron Paul.

The poll does suggest that GOP voters seem virtually resigned to accepting a candidate they are not that excited about. While a mere 9% of respondents said that they would vote for Mitt Romney if the election were today, Romney is by far the presumed frontrunner. 31% of those polled said they thought Romney would win the nomination. Second place went to Tim Pawlenty, who won only 8%. This is where it gets interesting: While Romney’s the presumed frontrunner, 27% of GOP voters already say they “never” would vote for him. Tim Pawlenty has only lost 16%.

For now, the figures regarding which candidates voters who will “never” back are more significant. Ultimately, this field will get whittled down to two or three, leaving many voters having to choose the least bad option. The boring TPaw will have an opportunity to win more of those votes as they free up than Romney.

One other point: the relatively unknown Mitch Daniels (not surprisingly) would only win 4% of the vote. However, a somewhat staggering 14% of voters already say they would “never” support him. That’s a very large number of voters off the table given that Daniels remains an “inside baseball” Washington favorite and hasn’t really made a lot of noise nationally.

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43 Comments so far ↓

  • PracticalGirl

    GOPers continue to try to manufacture a Christie run even though he, himself, has said he’s NOT READY. Why would they want to nominate a man who has already said:

    “[Y]ou have got to believe in your heart that you’re personally ready to be president, and I’m not there,” Christie said. He explained further:

    “I think every year you have as a governor in an executive position in a big state like New Jersey would make you better prepared to be president. And after one year as governor, I am not arrogant enough to believe that after one year as governor of New Jersey and seven years as the United States attorney that I’m ready to be president of the United States, so I’m not going to run.”

    • Arms Merchant

      You’ve just given evidence that Christie is exactly the right man for the job. Humility is the first qualification of leadership.

  • indy

    Trump’s rise and fall shows a good deal of support there for somebody to take. The middle is probably already overrepresented, so it seems somebody far right may be able to tap into it. Cain? my guess is Bachmann if she can keep the really insane stuff surpressed.

    • PracticalGirl

      Minnesota Palin abslutely CAN’T keep the insanity inside. It’s the only reason anybody’s ever heard of her.

  • MSheridan

    Those ARE interesting numbers. Re: the Daniels thing, I have a theory.

    We know that as the percentage of the population self-identifying as Republican has shrunk, the remaining GOP voters now average farther to the right than the party as a whole once was. Even if GOP voters don’t know much about Mitch Daniels, the better-informed ones will have heard that he isn’t a hard right candidate. That could be enough to debar him in the eyes of those people who have been accustomed to consider people like Angle, O’Donnell, Paladino, Palin, Miller, Bachmann, and Trump as real and serious candidates.

    It’s just a theory, but what else could it be? There’s nothing else about him to find all that objectionable.

    • PracticalGirl

      Could it also be his relatively reasonable approach to deficit reduction? He’s done a decent job of reducing his state’s deficit over the past 6 years. Some spending cuts- a point in his favor!- but it’s all on top of his tax INCREASE in 2005- anathema to a base that prays at the trough of “cut taxes to raise revenue”.

      • MSheridan

        Yeah, he’s got more than a nodding acquaintance with reality and how to run government. Not the way I’d run it, but still. Poor guy, he’s out of step with his own team. At this point, trickle down economics has gone from a political talking point to something approaching religious dogma. Empirical data doesn’t enter the picture. It’s all faith-based now. This in the party that once prided itself on its hardnosed pragmatism compared to those softheaded idealists on the left.

        • SqueekyFromm

          On Economy things, I think it is all because of the Dead Russian Atheist Who Wrote A Fictional Novel About Trains. I am still learning about this stuff, but it looks like her “everything the government does sucks” has infected them. Plus, this is kind of like Candide, and The Best Of All Possible Worlds thinking.

          Meanwhile, the Democrats are worshiping Obama and the Healing Power Of Speeches.

          Squeeky Fromm
          Girl Reporter

        • abj

          At this point, it has more to do with low name recognition than anything else.

  • HeeHee23

    I always like to go onto sites like Redstate, HotAir, and Townhall and read the comments just to get a feel for how some of the more conservative Republican voters are. They don’t like Daniels because they see him as a moderate. Some of the more honest things he says about not being ready to debate Obama on foreign policy and how he doesn’t want to run if his wife is against it seem to be taken as signs of weakness by the commenters on those sites. They ignore his record as Governor and in the private sector and see him as just another squishy moderate, beloved by Washington and the media. A Mc.Cain 2.0

    The people they frequently mention as their favorites for President are Cain, Bachman, Palin, Christie, Paul Ryan, and Allan West. These people don’t want candidates with records to run on they want bomb-throwers who will call out the President and not take any crap.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    How many Hillary voters swore they would never vote for Obama, the prospect of these Puma voters so enchanted McCain that he picked the disastrous Palin as his running mate, but in the end the overwhelming number of the Democrats who swore they would never vote for Obama voted for Obama. The most I can see happening is a small subset of the No voters who simply stay home and don’t vote at all, but considering the choice for the teabaggers is between “flipflopping Mormon Mitt” and “KenyanSocialistMuslim Obama” I am sure they will hold their nose and vote for Mitt. It is the independent voters who will hold the key to this election. If they don’t go with Mitt or a centrist the Republicans will be doomed.

    • Jim in DE

      How many Hillary voters swore they would never vote for Obama

      I was wondering the same. I would love to see comparable polls from other (pre-?)primary seasons. I would guess that the “will never vote for” numbers in this poll would still be high historically. For one thing, I bet Hillary/Obama voters hadn’t really dug their heels in in May 2007. (May 2008 may have been a different story, but those numbers would have to be taken with a grain of salt given the fresh emotion at the time.) For another, the 2012 GOP primary is so much more about cult of personality than anything substantive that I could see the sour grapes against the eventual nominee lasting until the general election. Just a guess, though.

      If they don’t go with Mitt or a centrist the Republicans will be doomed.
      Of course, if they go with Mitt and (most likely) lose, then it’s 2009 all over again with the conservative purity tests and doubling down on the extremism. That’s when the Republicans would really be doomed.

      It’s a weird spot for a Republican to be in these days … figuring that the best hope for your party will be if Palin or somebody similar loses 51-0 in Nov 2012.

      • Houndentenor

        Polls this far out mean nothing. It’s just something for lazy journalists to write about. How about interviewing all the candidates and let them speak for themselves (rather than the quick quotes “debate” form most candidates have to use to get their message out). Let the primary voters decide based on knowledge, not who’s ahead in the horse race. At this point in 2007 weren’t the frontrunners Hillary and Rudy?

  • rbottoms

    But Daniels just destroyed contraceptive and STD services for poor women so that ought to count for something with the GOP Taliban, right?

  • gover

    Over at Balloon Juice, Anne Laurie quotes Kevin Carey in the Washington Monthly predicting:

    “..a Pawlenty vs. Mitch Daniels race that broadcast networks will be unable to televise due to the risk of viewers having their souls erased by the creation of an anti-charismatic vortex of absolute personality zero…”

  • Discharged

    I can’t imagine anyone currently planning to support Romney (perhaps reluctantly) who wouldn’t ultimately prefer to support Daniels. I’m talking about what’s left of the silent reasonable R-voters out there. If Daniels decides to run, the media will inevitably give him the full court love press. Not that Daniels could win the nomination, but he certainly could put an end to Romney’s chances.

  • Shotgun314159

    HeeHee23 // May 11, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    The people they frequently mention as their favorites for President are Cain, Bachman, Palin, Christie, Paul Ryan, and Allan West. These people don’t want candidates with records to run on they want bomb-throwers who will call out the President and not take any crap.


    Bomb-throwers do not win in presidential elections.

    Any Goldwater Republicans out there?
    How did that work for ya…

    • Crime Dog

      My grandfather voted for Goldwater and George Wallace. In 2008, he proudly cast a vote for Obama.

  • think4yourself

    I believe all the serious candidates don’t think Obama is beatable and would rather run against a fresh Democratic face in 2016. Pawlenty (and Daniels and Huntsman possibly), may be in the race now, not to win but to get the name recognition for the next election (like Romney did last time) and because the GOP has a pattern of nominating next in line.

    What’s interesting about 2016 (I know I’m going way out in the field on this one) is how deep the Republican bench is versus the Democrats. I can’t think of a serious 2016 Democratic candidate (would Joe Biden run? He would be 74) and I don’t see any emerging stars yet (think Barak Obama at the Democratic convention that nominated John Kerry or Hillary Clinton waiting in the wings). The GOP however has a big group including Christie, Marco Rubio, Nikki Haley, Bobby Jindal, Pawlenty, Daniels, Huntsman and maybe Jeb Bush (I can’t imagine have a 3rd Bush in a row as GOP president, but since Jeb can presumably lock up Florida’s electoral votes, you take the largest battleground state off the table, it’s hard to ignore that strategic advantage).

    • Kevin B

      I suspect the Democrats with Presidential ambitions are keeping their heads low and their noses clean.

      Who had heard of Barack Obama before 2004, or Bill Clinton before 1988, or Jimmy Carter before 1972?

      Whoever runs will be SwiftBoated when the time comes. Why give potential opposition PACs a head start on trying to bring you down?

      • abj

        Obama isn’t by any stretch “unbeatable” for several reasons – in no particular order and just off the top of my head:

        1. The economy likely will only be marginally better next year than it is now. Obviously, if we see a robust recovery, he will be, but the most likely outcome is a continuation of the long slog we’ve seen toward recovery (which doesn’t feel much like recovery to most people).

        2. Republican turnout will be much more robust next year than in 2008 (GOP turnout in 08 was lower than in any presidential election since 1976). Like 2004, I think 2012 will be a base-driven election, because partisans on both sides will be highly motivated.

        3. I’d also wager a serious bet that youth turnout will be much lower than in 08, because these are the folks most impacted by the recession. Unless the GOP nominates a real nutjob, they won’t have any motivation to go out and vote. That could make a substantial difference in some swing states.

        4. Obama’s performance with independents, particularly right-leaning independents, will be weaker than in 2008, which could make a crucial difference in states like Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana, and even the classic swing states like Ohio and Florida.

        This, of course, is predicated on the GOP nominating a reasonably electable candidate.

        Obama certainly is the favorite right now, but not overwhelmingly so. We aren’t looking at 1984, nor are we looking at 1980. If I had to venture a guess, I would say next year’s election will most resemble 2004′s – another base-driven, hyperpartisan election, albeit one in which the incumbent enjoys a slight edge.

    • forkboy1965

      Good thinking and points to both think4yourself and Kevin B.

      I would also put forth the notion that 2016 is a fairly long way off and some/many/all of the current deep bench of the GOP could find themselves out of favour/disgraced/etc. between now and then. They are, after all, in the GOP.

      • Crime Dog

        Agreed about 2016…Democratic candidates tend to come from more obscurity than their GOP counterparts. Hell, even John Kerry was barely known despite being a 20-year Senator. That being said, if you put a gun to my head I’d say Martin O’Malley will be the Democratic candidate in 2016.

  • Jim in DE

    I believe all the serious candidates don’t think Obama is beatable

    This really does seem to be the case, though I’d argue the “unbeatable”-ness comes more from the shortcomings of the serious candidates, rather than from Obama himself. I mean, a President presiding over a horrible economy with rampant un- and underemployment and three overseas not-wars really shouldn’t be unbeatable.

    how deep the Republican bench is versus the Democrats

    Nikki Haley? Really? I don’t know one thing about her except that she won a narrow election for governor. Ditto Marco Rubio, except remove “narrow” and change “governor” to “Senator.”

    On the Dem side … Schumer? Cuomo has some time to make a name for himself; I could see him being a hot commodity come 2016. Hillary’s probably out, huh? I’m sure there are other non-New Yorkers and non-fake New Yorkers, but no one’s coming to mind right now. :)

    • think4yourself

      I didn’t suggest those candidates necessarily based upon their serious policy pronouncements, rather on whom seemed to me to be most electable. Nikki Haley (so far) hasn’t done anything entirely crazy that I know of, she is telegenic, female and of Indian descent, giving the GOP cover against charges of racism. In 5 years, she’ll be able to tout exective experience as would Jindal, Christie, Bush, Daniels and Pawlenty. Rubio brings Hispanic/Cuban background and possibly Florida electoral votes. Christie has built a persona as a straight talking, but not too uptight guy serious about deficit reform (from a liberal perspective maybe he manages to be mean without looking like it).

      I think the most interesting conversation is about Jeb Bush. Would independents except a 3rd Bush? Would right wing GOP vote for one? He seems to have managed to be reasonably well-liked in Florida and nationally considered as a moderate, intelligent guy. He can tap well-established fund raising better than anyone in the GOP. In addition to Florida, he can also secure Texas, which should go GOP in 2012 but with changing democraphics could be Democrat in 2016.

      As for 2012, unless there is a serious international or terror incident, I think Obama wins if the unemployment rate is 8.5% or below and loses if it’s 10% or above and I think the GOP candidate is Romney (and that Romney won’t compete again in 2016. I also think Obama is the first campaigner to raise over a billion dollars (and that’s why he wins).

      And if you believe all that, please find me Johnny’s “The Great Carnac” hat.

      • ottovbvs

        I’m betting Clinton is going to run in 2016 so any Republican candidates need to be scored against her in these parlor games. And if Obama has a successful second term she is going to be hard to beat particularly if the GOP becomes even more insane.

        • think4yourself

          Hmmm, maybe she’ll run. She says no and she’ll be 69 (ageism is at least as bad for females than males). If she did, she would be the presumed front runner. With the current President being born in the ’60′s, it would be tough to go back to one born in the ’40′s.

          If Biden decides to run (I’d consider him a weak candidate), it would be interesting to see if Hillary decided to. Cuomo is an interesting thought, if he doesn’t screw up in NY, a lot of people will encourage him to run. Also, maybe Gary Locke, Sec. of Commerce, former 2 term Gov of Washington State? Maybe Rham Emanuel (don’t think so). I think Schumer is too liberal (but he’d be an interesting candidate in the primary). Don’t forget Dennis Kucinich.

        • ottovbvs

          She says no and she’ll be 69

          Actually 68 I believe and she’s currently in her ninth year as Gallup’s most admired American woman.

      • Arms Merchant

        God, no, not another Bush. Haven’t they done enough damage?

    • ottovbvs

      This really does seem to be the case, though I’d argue the “unbeatable”-ness comes more from the shortcomings of the serious candidates, rather than from Obama himself. I mean, a President presiding over a horrible economy with rampant un- and underemployment and three overseas not-wars really shouldn’t be unbeatable.

      You assume then that the vast majority of Americans are unaware that Bush invaded Iraq and Afghanistan and is primarily responsible for the economic meltdown although there are a bunch of polls proving the opposite. Also Obama has always scored high on his likeability. He won election with 53% of the vote and I’d argue that when it gets down the wire he’s never really lost this or at most two or three points. The weakness of his opponents is only going to decide the scale of his win next year. If it’s someone semi sensible he’ll probably not improve greatly on his 53% but if the GOP picks a fruitcake we’re in Alf Landon territory.

      • think4yourself

        I think liberals believe that Bush is responsible for our economic meltdown along with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Republicans don’t think so, and I don’t think independents care who was at fault. Obama’s strong victory came because he was able to position himself as a change candidate as no one else before him has. This time around, he’s the incumbent so he can’t be the change candidate. Unfortunately we live in a microwave society. Obama couldn’t “fix” the economy just by getting elected (and to be honest, his prescriptions have not worked in the amount and time frame his administration had hoped). So if the economy is still kind of sputtering, I think it will a close election but ultimately it’s Obama’s to lose.

        I don’t believe the current president is always responsible for economic condition because most of the causitive factors are out of their control. I do believe that Bush is responsible for a very large part of the deficit because he lowered taxes (and cut revenue to the gov’t) early in his presidency (without cutting spending to balance), enacted the Medicare prescription plan without having a mechanism to pay for it and engaged in 2 wars without having provided a means to pay for it. I don’t particularly blame him for the economic meltdown, there is fault all around for the mortgage mess and I think it would have happened under a Democratic President as well.

        • ottovbvs

          I think liberals believe that Bush is responsible for our economic meltdown along with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Republicans don’t think so, and I don’t think independents care who was at fault.

          We’re not talking about what you think. There have been numerous polls, one as recently as two weeks ago, showing clear majorities of Democrats and Independants understanding Bush was the author of these messes.

        • think4yourself

          Sure we’re talking about what I think – just like we’re talking about what you think. Polling provides snapshot opinions that are very often skewed by the question. Here’s why I believe that independents and GOP don’t care about what Bush did – they turned the House to GOP and added GOP to the Senate, which could go GOP next election. If this was still all about Bush, both chambers of congress would be Democratic. They may think that Bush was the instigator, but that doesn’t mean they’ll vote liberal because of it.

          I think Obama wins in 2012, but it’s probably closer than it should be because the Tea Party drives the opposition by playing the race card along with disorting Obama’s record (he’s a left of center moderate and pragmatist, not a facist, Muslim, commie, Kenyan colonial with marxist leanings that is the most liberal President in American history and the most intellectually weak President in history (I fell off my chair when Dick Army said that with a straight face on an interview with Charlie Rose).

  • nhthinker

    Zogby is a Democratic hack pollster.

    His polls are generally meaningless and always intended to make the Democrats look better.

    • ottovbvs

      He is a hack pollster but generally speaking his polls have favored Republicans. He’s been pulled from composites on this very ground. Much the same that has happened to Rasmussen although in fewer cases.

  • Bunker555

    Pound for pound Christie beats the Huckster by at least 100.

    Popularity wise, the Huckster outweighs the Peddler.

  • hisgirlfriday

    Can someone explain to me why Republicans forgive Christie’s reluctance to engage on social issues and not actually accomplishing anything meaningful on unions while lambasting Daniels when he has actually destroyed women’s health for the poor in his state to appease the religious right and has destroyed unions in his state more than any other governor?

    As for the Dem side in 2016, I agree that there is not a clear group of candidates raring to run the way there is in on the GOP side but I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. Much better to have elected Dems united around the president working together behind the scenes to achieve priorities rather than a bunch of lightning rods all elbowing each other to get to the front of the line for the most airtime and sucking up all the oxygen and attention of party activists.

    That said, I agree about Martin O’Malley possibly positioning himself for a run in 2016 although I don’t think he’d be a particularly strong candidate. Personally I think their best bet for that cycle would be Gov. Brian Schweitzer of Montana on a national Dem ticket combined with someone like Kirsten Gillibrand or Amy Klobuchar as veep. They do seem to have few Latino elected officials in positions of real leadership, prominence and influence though.

    • Crime Dog

      Because Christie is a bomb-thrower. He yells at teachers and posts the videos on Youtube. What a hero! Seriously, Christie has accomplished very little in his tenure. Far less than Daniels. But the Republicans want someone who’s mean and willing to attack liberals.

      I was the one that named O’Malley as the favorite for the 2016 nomination, though I agree his campaign would be based on looking good and being the basis for a character on a TV show that urban liberals love. I absolutely adore Schweitzer, but I’m just not sure the party could get behind the governor of such a small state. I’m surprised Mark Warner doesn’t get more attention, since he’ the most popular politician in a swing state with experience in business, as well as successful terms in Richmond and D.C.

      If Andrew Cuomo gets engaged to Sandra Lee in the next year or two that should be a good sign he’s going to run in 2016.

  • PatrickQuint

    In 2012, Obama will have lost the demographic who wanted to vote in a non-white President. This includes a bunch of black Republicans and a number of conservatives trying to prove to themselves that they’re not racist. It also includes a bunch off new voters who came out so that they could say that they voted for the First Black President (TM). History has been made now, so they won’t be so excited for round 2. While he may not have lost the support of these people in the polling data, I expect him to lose turnout.

    The racist vote is still there though, and may well be more energized this time (re: birtherism).

    It’s one factor among many.