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