Friday, May 6, 2011

Republicans Already Opposed to Some Candidates

The 2012 Republican primary has not yet begun in earnest, and voters are unlikely to see attack ads against Republican candidates for quite some time. Yet recent polling by Rasmussen shows that many Republicans are already opposed to certain candidates.

Rasmussen presented voters with a list of candidates and asked them which ones they would "definitely vote for," "probably vote for," "definitely vote against," and "probably vote against." (Participants were apparently allowed to select more than one candidate whom they would "definitely vote for.") Rasmussen released some of the results of this poll here.

Most candidates received from 20-30% "definitely vote for" ratings, and combined "definitely" and "probably vote for" ratings of around 50-60%. Chris Christie received the highest "definitely vote for" rating of any of the candidates: 30%.

More revealing were the percentages of Republicans who said they would either "probably" or "definitely" vote against a candidate:

Would Probably or Definitely Vote Against:
Trump 48%
Palin 39%
Gingrich 39%
Christie 22%

The poll suggests a polarized electorate. Almost half of Republicans have dismissed Trump. It appears Trump has had difficulty persuading voters that he is genuinely conservative, serious, or electable. As Elephant Watcher explained in a previous post, these difficulties have kept Trump's odds of winning the nomination extremely low, despite some decent national primary poll numbers.

Gingrich and Palin both show weakness in this poll, with nearly 40% of Republicans already opposed to them.

Christie performs much better, with only 22% of Republicans giving him negative marks. Christie's high positive rating and low negative rating reflect what was suggested in Christie's profile: He has enthusiastic supporters and few detractors.

Unless another candidate--one who is willing to jump into the field early--is able to similarly rally support while not alienating significant blocs of the Republican party, Christie is in good shape to win. Elephant Watcher has calculated the odds of each candidate winning the nomination: Christie at 60%; Trump, Palin, and Gingrich range from 1-3%.