Subscribe

Only four presidential candidates are viable, says poll of Republican voters (+video)

A majority of Republican voters view only four of their party's presidential contenders as potential general election winners, says a new AP-GfK poll. Donald Trump tops the list. 

  • close
    In this Oct. 23, 2015, file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the Trump National Doral Miami resort in Doral, Fla. An overwhelming majority of Republican voters believe Donald Trump would be the GOP’s strongest candidate in a general election, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll that highlights a sharp contrast between the party’s voters and its top operatives regarding the billionaire businessman’s ultimate political strength.
    (AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File)
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

A majority of Republican voters view only four of their party's presidential contenders as potential general election winners, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll that reflects the sustained strength of the GOP's outsider candidates.

Billionaire businessman Donald Trump is viewed as the strongest. Seven in 10 Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters say he could win in November 2016 if he captures his party's nomination. Six in 10 say the same for retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who, like Trump, has tapped into the powerful wave of antiestablishment anger defining the early phases of the 2016 contest.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush tops the field of experienced political leaders on the question of electability. Six in 10 Republicans say Bush could win the general election, followed by 54 percent who view Florida Sen. Marco Rubio as a potential winner. None of the other candidates is viewed as electable in a general election by more than half of Republican voters.

"It's the lifelong establishment politicians on both sides that rub me the wrong way," said registered Republican Joe Selig, a 60-year-old carpenter from Vallejo, California. "I think Trump is more electable. He's strong. We need strength these days."

The poll reflects the sharp contrast between the party's voters and its top professionals regarding the billionaire businessman's ultimate political strength.

Trump and Carson are considered among the least electable general election candidates by the Republican Party's professionals, those who are in the business of helping candidates run campaigns and win elections.

Experienced political strategists note that winning a general election and winning the Republican nomination are often very different tasks. The GOP's most conservative voters — a group that is older and whiter than the nation as a whole — wield extraordinary influence in picking the nominee. Independents, moderate voters and minorities are far more important in general elections that draw many more people to the polls.

While Trump and Carson are popular in primary election polls, both have used divisive rhetoric in recent months that alienated some minorities. Trump called Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals during his announcement speech, while Carson said he would not support a Muslim presidential candidate.

"Republicans think (Democrat) Hillary (Rodham Clinton) is weaker than she is. They are wrong," said GOP operative Katie Packer, who was deputy campaign manager for 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney. "They think we don't need to win more women or more Hispanics to win. They're wrong."

Carson and Trump are the candidates most likely to receive positive ratings from Republican voters, with 65 percent saying they have a favorable opinion of Carson and 58 percent saying the same of Trump. Republicans are somewhat less excited about Bush, with 48 percent giving him a favorable rating.

"If he weren't a Bush, I wouldn't even know his name," said Republican Leslie Millican, a 34-year-old housewife from Magnolia, Arkansas. "I like the other Bushes. Something about (Jeb Bush) — he ain't grown on me yet."

Trump and Bush have the highest negative ratings within their own party: 37 percent of Republican voters say they have an unfavorable opinion of Bush and 36 percent say the same of Trump.

Their negatives are even more pronounced among the broader electorate. The AP-GfK poll found Trump is viewed unfavorably by 57 percent of those surveyed, the highest negatives of any Republican candidate. Bush is next with unfavorable ratings from 48 percent of all respondents.

Overall, all but one GOP candidate is viewed more unfavorably than favorably by all those questioned. Carson is the exception, drawing about equally positive and negative views. He remains unknown by a significant portion of the electorate.

Among Republican voters, all the candidates except New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have a net positive rating. Carson tops the list, followed by Rubio, former technology executive Carly Fiorina and then Trump.

The poll also found a sharp difference between the political parties over experience.

By an overwhelming 77 percent to 22 percent margin, Republican registered voters and leaners say they prefer an outsider candidate who will change how things are done, rather than someone with experience in Washington who can get things done. They prefer someone with private sector leadership experience over experience holding elected office, 76 percent to 22 percent.

Trump, Carson and Fiorina are the only Republican candidates who have never held elective office. Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, is a former first lady, secretary of state and senator.

Perhaps that helps explain why Democrats prefer experience over outsider status, 67 percent to 32 percent, and experience in office over private sector experience — 66 percent to 33 percent.

Republican strategist John Feehery says Trump is considered electable now only because he hasn't yet been the subject of a multimillion dollar negative ad campaign, which will happen should he maintain his lead in the polls.

"Right now, he serves a valuable purpose as a front-runner, especially for the Democrats," Feehery said. "They would love him to be our nominee."

As The Boston Globe reported, Trump also leads all candidates based on plain-speaking: 

That's according to a new analysis by the Boston Globe that rated 19 of the 2016 presidential candidates and found the ones who use the most elementary language perform best in the polls, while those who employ more complex, sophisticated speech do the worst. 

Consider the best- and worst-scorers: Donald Trump announced his candidacy in fourth-grade language according to the Globe's analysis. He's outperformed all expectations and has led almost every poll almost since he declared.  

___

The AP-GfK Poll of 1,027 adults was conducted online October 15 to October 19, using a sample drawn from GfK's probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn't otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

___

Online:

Poll: 

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK