Ron Paul at 38 Percent in Rasmussen Poll
Hillary Clinton beats Ron Paul 48 to 38 in the latest Rasmussen poll. As their own analysis shows, however, that says much more about Clinton than Paul.
A recent Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey featuring a match-up between Hillary Clinton and Ron Paul highlights one of the perils that comes from overanalyzing poll results between candidates with different levels of name recognition.
In that survey, Clinton held a fairly modest 48% to 38% lead. But, a careful look at the results tells us a lot about the public’s opinion of Hillary Clinton and virtually nothing about their opinion of Ron Paul.
Why? First, because just about everyone in the United States has an opinion of Hillary Clinton. She has been a major player on the national and international state for 15 years. Half the country has a favorable opinion of her and half holds the opposite view, but all have an opinion. Our most recent survey results show that nearly 60% of voters have a strongly held opinion about the New York Senator and former First Lady.
As for Ron Paul, 42% don’t know enough about him to have an opinion one way or the other. He’s one of 435 Congressman whose life is way below the radar screen for most Americans. Still, his presence in the GOP Presidential Debates has raised his profile a bit–26% now offer a favorable opinion and 32% say the opposite. But, only 16% have a strongly held opinion about Paul (7% Very Favorable, 9% Very Unfavorable).
A look at the crosstabs demonstrates that it is attitudes towards Clinton that are driving the numbers in this polling match-up. Among all voters, Clinton attracts 48% support. Among the voters who have never heard of Ron Paul or don’t know enough to have an opinion, guess what. Clinton attracts the exact same total–48% of the vote. So whether or not people have heard of Ron Paul as the challenger, support for Clinton doesn’t change.
So, outside of a small group of avid Ron Paul fans, support for Senator Clinton is unchanged whether or not the survey respondent has ever heard of Ron Paul.
Looking at other recent match-ups confirms the sense that what we’re seeing is primarily a reflection of attitudes about the Democratic frontrunner. In the latest Rasmussen Reports polling, Clinton gets 47% against Fred Thompson, 48% against Mitt Romney, 48% against Mike Huckabee, 44% against Rudy Giuliani, and 44% against John McCain.
A rather interesting result: Paul has yet to rise above 4 percent in the Rasmussen tracking poll yet he does as well against Hillary Clinton as anybody (within the +/-4% margin of error). What that says about the more well known Republican candidates, though, I’m not sure.
A separate Rasmussen analysis gets it right:
Hillary Clinton has become the unifying theme of Election 2008. That applies to the Democratic Nomination process, the race for the Republican nomination, and the general election.
That makes sense at this stage of the game, since Clinton is the overwhelming favorite on the Democratic side and is the right’s favorite bogeyman (bogeyperson?). I continue to believe, however, that the race won’t simply be about Hillary come the fall of 2008. The Republican nominee, whomever that turns out to be, is still going to have to present a competing leadership vision.