Giuliani Most Popular, Clinton and Romney Least

A new Gallup survey shows that Rudy Giuliani has by far the highest net favorability rating among the 2008 presidential hopefuls and the only one with a majority viewing him positively. John McCain has moved into net negative territory for the first time in the history of the survey and is joined there by Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney.

Favorability of Declared and Possible Presidential Candidates

Moreover, McCain, Obama, and Romney are trending downward.

John McCain Favorability Gallup TrendBarack Obama Favorability Gallup TrendMitt Romney  Favorability Gallup Trend

I’ve long predicted a decline in Obama’s numbers, simply because his views on controversial public policy issues were largely unknown and, despite his charisma, he was naturally going to alienate people when he started making stands. That’s essentially happening with Romney, too: Note that 47 percent still have no opinion of him, making his net numbers somewhat meaningless.

As Gallup’s Joseph Carroll observes,

Typically, Americans’ ratings of relatively unknown candidates are more favorable than unfavorable in the early stages of their campaign. But opinions of Romney have never been much more positive than negative. His highest net favorable was only +8 this past May. As he has become somewhat better known in recent months, his ratings have become on balance negative, and his current net favorable rating is -9 (22% favorable, 31% unfavorable). About half of Americans remain unfamiliar with him.

The trend is holding true with Thompson as well:

Thompson — the other still relatively unknown candidate — fits the more typical pattern of being viewed more positively than negatively. His net favorable ratings have been consistent since Gallup first measured his ratings in April — ranging between a +10 and a +16 net favorable rating over this period of time. Currently, he has a 31% favorable rating and 20% unfavorable ratings for a net score of +11. Forty-nine percent of Americans remain unfamiliar with the actor and former Tennessee senator.

Again, his favorability numbers are likely to decline as his views become more clear; what the net division of the current “unknowns” will be, though, is anyone’s guess.

Of course, at this stage of the game, what really matters is how likely primary voters view the candidates. Here, the numbers look much different:

Gallup Favorability by Party August 2007

For the Republicans, the favorability numbers line up nicely with the generic poll numbers. For the Democrats, oddly, Obama comes in fourth in net favorability despite being a strong second in most surveys.

Also, it’s interesting that Clinton is by far the most popular candidate among her partisans, which seems to signal that she would have a much more enthusiastic base, were she the nominee, than any of the likely Republican nominees. That’s not good news for the GOP.

FILED UNDER: 2008 Election, Public Opinion Polls, , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    James, I think that Hillary Clinton is, basically, the regular Democratic nominee already. Here’s my question: has the support of the Republican Party leadership coalesced around one of the candidates? My sense is that it hasn’t but I’ve been suspecting that it would around Romney.

    I think that both of those would be errors on the part of their respective parties but I guess that’s what political parties are for.

  2. Alex Knapp says:

    I wonder how Giuliani’s favorability ratings will hold as more of his rather shady personal life come into the forefront? After all, we’re talking about a guy whose kids won’t speak to him and had an open and public affair. Not to mention that his best friend and best man at his wedding has been indicted for child molestation and conspiracy to cover up same in the Catholic Church…

  3. se7en says:

    I agree with Alex Knapp.

    Guiliani’s numbers are also treading downward, as Joyner posted last month.

    I am optimistic about Romney’s numbers. As has been said about him, the more people get to know him, the more they’ll like him. 47% still have yet to hear of him.

  4. yetanotherjohn says:

    Hillary’s number are a great example of the 50/50 divisive nation.

    +71 among democrats, -71 among republicans (-9 among independents, the only democrat with a net negative among independents).

    Rudy is a little different in that he has high positives on the GOP side (+64) and relatively low negatives on the democratic side (-9) and good positives among independents (+25).

    On the democratic side, the more that is known about the person, the poorer their scores among republicans and independents, though among democrats the opposite is true. We know more about Hillary, then Gore, then Edwards and least about Obama.

    Among the republicans, there is no such easily perceived correlation.

    One other point, remember the 11th commandment. Unless you find the GOP candidate worse than all the democratic candidates, you should hesitate to speak ill of the GOP candidate (assuming you support the GOP in general). We shouldn’t let the inter-party tussle in the primaries be used to weaken the candidate in the general election. I generally associate ill speakers at this stage to either be not very thoughtful, have very narrow perspective or to be pulling for the other party.

  5. Triumph says:

    Rudy is going to win both the Republican nomination and the Presidency easily. This is primarily because, as a 9/11 recovery worker, he has risked his life for the country.

    None of the Democrat candidates can claim that level of service.

  6. just me says:

    I think the advantage Rudy has at the moment, is he appeals politically to the middle. He isn’t really extreme enough one way or the other to totally turn off the middle.

    And his advantage is that the GOP base just doesn’t seem to have anyone they want to get behind, so he is ahead by default.

    I do thinik the more his personal life, and some of his more socially liberal views come to the forefront, that it will get tougher-but he benefits from there not being a super strong GOP candidate that people want to support.

  7. Tano says:

    Yes, actually Rudy’s numbers have fallen by the exact same amount as has Obama’s (20% net decline).

    And I do agree with Alex and those who raise the question of how Rudy’s trend lines will go. Obama may well continue to lost support amongst Republicans, as his liberalism becomes more apparant, but I suspect he will maintain himself well amongst independents, and may actually improve amongst Democrats.

    Rudy however, still has some room to fall within his own pary, I suspect, and has lots of baggage that can be explored and lower his standing across the board.

  8. G.A.Phillips says:

    None of the Democrat candidates can claim that level of service.

    But they will.