Sunday, January 13, 2008

More bad news for the Republicans

By now we should all know enough to take polls with a grain of salt ... but the fact remains that the latest Opinion Research Corporation poll for CNN came up with some very intriguing figures.

Basically, respondents viewed the Democratic Party much more favorably than the Republican Party, and they also viewed the leading Democratic presidential candidates more favorably than the leading Republican candidates ... with one exception, John McCain. Obama, McCain, and Clinton all got essentially the same "favorable" percentages (55%, 54%, and 53% respectively), though the percentage declaring themselves "unfavorable" to Clinton was noticeably higher than for Obama or McCain. Giuliani, Romney, and Huckabee were all way behind in the likability sweepstakes.

But for McCain, being likable may not be enough. Even though only 22% of respondents said they disliked him, the proportion saying that they would "definitely not vote for" him if he gets the nomination was 43%--which happens to be precisely the same as the figure for Clinton. (The corresponding figure for Obama was 38%.) A majority of respondents said that they would "definitely not vote for" either Giuliani (55%), Huckabee (52%), or Romney (62%). It seems safe to conclude that Romney is not well-liked.

In hypothetical match-ups, both Obama and Clinton comfortably led all the Republican candidates--except McCain. According to these polling results, either one would beat Giuliani, Huckabee, or Romney by implausibly decisive margins (55%-42%, 58%-39%, and the like). And both of them pulled ahead of McCain by one or two percentage points--essentially a tie. But that statistical tie may be deceptive. The percentage who said they would "definitely vote for" McCain if he got the nomination (22%) was dramatically less than the corresponding figure for either Clinton (37%) or Obama (30%).

It's interesting to note, by the way, that this poll showed Obama and Clinton doing about equally well against McCain--something that had not been true in a lot of earlier polls.

This poll offers more evidence that McCain would probably be the Republican's strongest presidential candidate. But I still find it hard to believe that the Republicans will actually nominate him. And even if they do, could he really win the general election, given that a solid majority of voters (according to this poll and a lot of others) are sick and tired of the Republican Party? For what it's worth, I doubt it.

Of course, all this could change in all sorts of ways between now and November. But for the moment, as George Will explained today, things don't look promising for the GOP.

=> I was alerted to this poll by reports from two Democratic bloggers, Turkana at The Left Coaster (a pro-Edwards & pro-Clinton Kossack) and Jonathan Singer at MyDD. Turkana remarked:
While the Clinton and Obama campaigns spend their time cannibalizing each other, the public isn't paying attention, or doesn't care. [....] The only Republican who stands a chance is John McCain, and he shouldn't be that hard to beat.
That last point may be a bit overstated, but as I said, it's probably on the right track. Singer's commentary is below.

--Jeff Weintraub
MyDD - Direct Democracy
Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 05:12:20 PM EST
CNN Poll: GOP Looking Really Weak
by Jonathan Singer

Opinion Research Corporation (.pdf) was in the field nationally Wednesday and Thursday for CNN and found some rather interesting numbers that are worth passing along.

Looking at the favorability ratings for the two parties nationally, the Democratic Party is looking remarkably strong. In fact, the Democrats have not had such a high net favorable rating in CNN/ORC polling dating back nearly a year and a half, with 55 percent of Americans viewing the party positively and just 34 percent viewing it favorably. While the party's favorable number did hit 56 percent in September 2006, never before has the spread been so favorable for the party -- even immediately before the 2006 midterms in which Democrats were swept into power on Capitol Hill.

Contrast these numbers with the mediocre, at best, numbers for the GOP. Currently just 41 percent of Americans view the Republican Party favorably, up from 36 percent in June 2007 but actually down from 44 percent in September 2006. A total of 48 percent of Americans view the GOP unfavorably, a significantly higher negative rating than that registered by the Democrats.

Going beyond that, when voters were asked what candidates they would definitely NOT vote for, three of the leading Republican candidates -- Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Rudy Giuliani -- already registered opposition from a majority of Americans. Specifically, 52 percent of respondents indicated they would definitely not vote for Huckabee, while 55 percent said the same of Giuliani and 62 percent said the same of Romney. While just 43 percent said that they would not consider supporting John McCain in November, no Democrat faced a higher level of opposition. What's more, McCain's hard support was less that than for either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, indicating less excitement about his candidacy than for the candidacies of the leading Democratic candidates.

Finally, I've posted head-to-head matchups pitting Democrats Obama and Clinton against Republicans Giuliani, Romney, McCain, and Huckabee down in the extended entry. In each permutation save for those including McCain, both Democrats lead all Republicans by double-digit margins. For McCain, both Democrats lead, though well within the poll's margin of error.

In all, these numbers don't speak well of the vitality of the GOP.