A PROGRESSIVE VOICE FROM THE LLANO ESTACADO

Saturday, June 15, 2013

GOP Loves Paul Ryan - But Americans Don't

(The caricature above is by the inimitable DonkeyHotey.)

There are already several Republicans jockeying for position in the upcoming battle for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. It may be early, but all of them would like to be the frontrunner when the race starts to heat up -- because a frontrunner usually has an advantage in gathering votes and in collecting money for the campaign. So far, it looks like the frontrunner may be Paul Ryan. And that makes some sense, since he was the Veep candidate on the GOP ticket in 2012.

A recent Gallup Poll decided to test the early waters, and see just where the major candidates stand with Republican voters. The poll was conducted between June 1st and 4th of 1,529 nationwide adults -- with a 3 point margin of error. There were 703 Republicans (and Republican leaners) surveyed -- with a 5 point margin of error. The poll showed that Paul Ryan had the best favorability rating of any of the candidates mentioned. Here are the GOP numbers (with the first numbers being those who view the candidate favorably, and the number in parentheses being those viewing the candidate unfavorably):

Paul Ryan...............69% (12%).....+57
Marco Rubio...............58% (11%).....+47
Rand Paul...............56% (13%).....+43
Ted Cruz...............40% (8%).....+32
Chris Christie...............53% (25%).....+28

I don't know why Jeb Bush wasn't included in the list of possible candidates, but he wasn't. I doubt he could have matched Ryan's rather lofty numbers among Republicans though. Lately, he has been all over the map on the issue of immigration reform, and that can't be making the GOP teabagger base very happy (most of whom are against any real reform).

If Ryan wants to be the Republican candidate in 2016, this poll seems to show he would have a very good chance of winning the nomination. But just winning the GOP nomination doesn't get you to the White House. You then have to convince a majority of American voters to cast their votes for you -- and that is where Ryan would have a problem. His numbers drop a lot when all voters are asked to rate him. Here are the numbers for the general public:

Chris Christie...............52% (20%).....+32
Marco Rubio...............37% (22%).....+15
Paul Ryan...............40% (32%).....+8
Ted Cruz...............24% (18%).....+6
Rand Paul...............34% (19%).....+5

Note that Ryan's net favorability drops sharply when Democrats and Independents are added to the survey -- from a +57 to a +8 (a drop of 49 points). That's not good. But nearly all of the possible Republican candidates show a pretty big drop in their favorability -- all but one, Chris Christie. Christie's favorable percentage remains about the same when the general public is surveyed -- and his net favorability actually rises by 4 points (1 point more than the margin of error).

This shows me that the Republicans do have a candidate who could give Democrats a run for their money in the 2016 presidential race. But it's not Paul Ryan -- it's Chris Christie. Fortunately (for Democrats), Christie has a poor shot at winning the GOP nomination. He's shown a willingness to work with Democrats, and actually has moments of rational thinking -- both of which are considered sins by the GOP's teabagger base.

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