A new Gallup Poll has good news for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and bad news for some Republicans long believed to be the most “electable” nationally: Clinton is the best known, best liked potential 2016 candidate the those considered the strongest national candidates polled lousy numbers:
Hillary Clinton is currently the best known and best liked of 16 potential 2016 presidential candidates tested in a July 7-10 Gallup poll, due to her 91% familiarity score and +19 net favorable rating. The net favorable is based on her 55% favorable and 36% unfavorable ratings.
In the graph seen above, those potential candidates in the upper-right quadrant are viewed more positively than negatively by Americans and have above average familiarity. The further candidates in that quadrant are away from the intersecting lines, the higher their scores are on both dimensions. The graph clearly shows Clinton’s strong image positioning relative to other candidates at the moment for the general election. Gallup will report on candidate images among rank-and-file Republicans and Democrats in the coming days to see how the 2016 hopefuls stack up for their respective party’s nomination.
Those potential candidates in the other three quadrants have weaknesses in familiarity, favorability, or both. Those in the lower-right quadrant are better known but less well liked, and must work to change people’s opinions about them. Those in the upper-left quadrant are better liked but less well known, and their challenge lies more in becoming nationally known figures.
Former Arkansas governor and current talk show host Mike Huckabee is arguably in a slightly better position image-wise among the national adult population than other potential Republican presidential candidates. His +12 net favorable rating edges out Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s +9 for the highest among Republican candidates. Huckabee’s 54% familiarity score trails those for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (65%) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (65%), but is above the 52% average for the 11 Republicans measured in the poll. Christie’s and Bush’s net favorable ratings are among the lowest.
The low number for Rick Santorum is no big surprise, but the South Pole location for Christie and Bush will likely strength the arguments of Tea Partiers about more moderate Republicans.
Ed Kilgore nails it when he notes that it’s “worth observing that the potential GOP presidential candidates most often cited as having an “electability” advantage over the rest of the field are not at present very popular among the general population.” He goes on:
You can make the argument, of course, that over time Christie’s Bridgegate problems could fade from memory (if more bad news doesn’t come out, of course) and voters will figure out Jeb’s not his older brother. But when “electability” is one of your main rationales for candidacy in a party that really, really doesn’t want to compromise ideology unless it’s absolutely necessary, you don’t want to be struggling to catch up with Rand Paul and Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee in terms of your general election appeal.
Will this convince the kind of “Republican Establishment” types who talk to Beltway reporters to chill a bit in promoting Christie and Jebbie as frontrunners, or discourage the donors who apparently find them so appealing? Probably not any time soon. But at some point reality will set in unless these dudes make a move towards actual popularity.
The hurdles for Christie and Bush were always great and now they seem bigger.