‘Don’t Know’ Leads 2008 Presidential Hopefuls

Barring intervening events, “Don’t Know” will be our next president, according to the latest Gallup poll.

Many Americans cannot spontaneously think of the name of a person they would like to see elected president in 2008. While this lack of firm conviction about presidential candidates over a year before the first 2008 primaries is not necessarily unusual, it underscores the certainty of change as various politicians announce their candidacies and jockey for position in the months ahead.

Beyond the “don’t know” category, eight men and women are mentioned spontaneously as desired candidates by 2% or more of Americans as their choice for president in 2008. Two candidates top the list — New York Sen. Hillary Clinton with 15% of spontaneous mentions and Arizona Sen. John McCain with 11%. The other six mentioned by between 2% and 6% of the people are Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Sen. John Edwards, Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and former Vice President Al Gore. Five other individuals are named by 1% — Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, Tennessee Sen. Bill Frist (who has formally said he won’t run), and former Sec. of State Colin Powell.

Asked in a separate question if they would like to see a list of candidates run for president, McCain and Giuliani are the only two candidates who get a “yes” answer from more than half of Americans. Clinton tops the list among Democrats, over three-quarters of whom would like to see her run, but the majority of independents and Republicans say they would not like to see her run.

Here are the results in graphic form:

Gallup chart: 'Don't Know' Leads 2008 Presidential Hopefuls

Perhaps Al Gore should consider changing his name to “Don’t Know” (or, perhaps, “Don T. Know”). It would not only be rather fitting but would give him a major bounce in the polls.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. LaurenceB says:

    Re: Al Gore changing his name to “Don’t Know”

    Years ago there was a Judge Ito (of Japanese descent) running for election in Utah. To make a long story short, his opponent was understandably a bit peeved to discover that at the bottom of the ballot, the English words “Vote for One”, had been translated to the spanish instructions: “Vote por Uno”.

    I just love that story. 🙂

  2. Anderson says:

    In a separate poll, Billy, Jeffy, and Dolly agreed that the next president would be “Not Me.”

    P.J. was undecided, and Barfy expressed support for “Woof.”

  3. LaurenceB says:

    Oops. I screwed up the punchline. The judge’s name was “Judge Uno”. Darn. That’s why I don’t tell jokes at parties.