No Evidence GOP Voters Are Dissatisfied With 2012 Field

Despite what the media keeps saying, there's no real evidence that GOP voters are dissatisfied with the 2012 field.

One of the most common themes among political pundits right now, especially in connection with speculation that other candidates might yet enter the race for the GOP nomination, is the idea that GOP voters aren’t satisfied with their current crop of candidates. The other day, Byron York talked with a group of pollsters and found that there’s no real evidence for such dissatisfaction:

Some Republican elites, not just members of the commentariat but also big GOP money men, are in fact unhappy with the field.  But what about the voters?  Is dissatisfaction with the Republican field widespread among the people who will actually decide the next GOP presidential nominee?

Not really.  “I do not know of any widespread unhappiness,” says pollster Scott Rasmussen.  “Our polling shows that the vast majority of Republicans still are not certain how they would vote, but that’s a sign that it’s still very early in the process, not a sign of unhappiness.”

“I’m not sure I’ve seen any,” says Republican pollster David Winston.  “There is this sense that since we haven’t gotten to a clear, decisive winner, then that means there must be dissatisfaction.  But it could mean that people are still thinking it through.”

Anecdotal impressions support what the pollsters say.  I have been in Iowa, South Carolina, and Florida in recent weeks and talked with a lot of voters.  While a few are unhappy with their choices — there are always some voters who feel that way — there just does not seem to be much overall dissatisfaction with the field.  Voters realize there is no perfect candidate in the race — that might be an understatement this time around — but that doesn’t mean they believe there is some perfect candidate out there over the horizon, waiting to enter the race.

State-level polling also does not suggest that dissatisfaction is widespread among Republican voters.  A recent Suffolk University poll of New Hampshire voters found that 68 percent say they are very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the field, while 30 percent say they are very dissatisfied or somewhat dissatisfied.  Breaking down those numbers, 16 percent say they are very satisfied and 52 percent say they are somewhat satisfied with the field.  Among dissatisfied voters, 19 percent say they are somewhat dissatisfied, while 11 percent say they are very dissatisfied.  Rasmussen says that 11 percent — the number of people who are most intensely unhappy — is a very, very small number.

As York goes on to note, there are several polls out there that show that there is still a sizable group of undecided voters out there, but this is to be expected at this point in the race. We’re still at least three months away from the beginning of the primary season, there are many debates ahead, and some voters haven’t event started to focus on the race with the same degree of attention as those of us who are political observers have been for months. But undecided does not mean dissatisfied. Most of these voters just seem to be willing to let the race play out, learn more about the candidates, and make their choices later on.

That’s not good enough for the media and the political pundits, though. Due in part I think to the fact that these cable news shows always need to have something to do talk about, they always need to focus on something new. Now that Rick Perry is no longer the “new guy” and appears to be faltering just a little bit and making this a competitive race again, they’re looking for something to talk about. So, we’ve got the speculation about Chris Christie, and Rudy Giuliani, and, of course, Sarah Palin. It gives these pundits something to talk about, and it stirs up no small degree of controversy for the various campaigns of the people who are actually running to respond to.

Personally, I’m not all that thrilled with the GOP field. Leaving a side at most three  or four exceptions they strike me as either laughably unqualified, a little wacky, or just plain crazy. Of those three or four, there are maybe two that I’d be willing to vote for without some serious arm twisting on somebody’s part. My impression, though, is that the average Republican whose paying attention to this race is just fine with the crop of candidates that they’ve got and that the clamoring we’re seeing for someone new to enter the race is the result of the aforementioned pundits and GOP insiders who apparently think they can get behind a candidate who, realistically, has no real chance of winning the party’s nomination and somehow push him down the base’s throat.

I doubt it’s going to work. The eight men and one woman in the race are the field the GOP has this time around, and one of them will be the nominee (realistically, only two of those eight have a shot at the nomination I think). It’s time to end the myth of the dissatisfied GOP voter

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. legion says:

    Of course there’s little dissatisfaction… at this stage of the game, everyone believes their own favored candidate still has a good shot at being the nominee – and really, who can blame them? They can’t be dissatisfied with something that hasn’t happened yet – I’d wager the only Repubs answering ‘yes’ are those whose preference already bailed (T-Paw, Donald, etc) or isn’t in at all (Palin). Dems already know who the candidate is going to be, so we can kvetch a lot more.

  2. I’ll be honest, I have always interpreted “Republican dissatisfaction” as being about elite dissatisfaction, not voter dissatisfaction, per se. Have the reports really been saying that the rank and file are upset with their choices? Maybe I am just filtering my perceptions since the rank and file tend to coalesce around whichever choice are out there while the pundits are the ones who do most of the complaining.

  3. @Steven L. Taylor:

    The “voter dissatisfaction” meme has been out there for awhile, yea

  4. Ron Beasley says:

    The important dissatisfaction will occur after the nominee is chosen. Yes I think a majority have a candidate they like but also a candidate they don’t. What does the Evangelical base do in November when they have to chose between a Republican cultist and a Democratic black man? What do independents do if they have to chose between a none to bright Texas wingnut and an incompetent Democrat?

  5. Hey Norm says:

    The GOP voted for McCain…whose whole career is based on being a shitty pilot…and Sarah Palin…a pageant queen. Seriously….how could they be dissatisfied with anyone???

  6. Pete says:

    @Ron Beasley: The answer: Write in Michael Reynolds.

  7. Tlaloc says:

    As York goes on to note, there are several polls out there that show that there is still a sizable group of undecided voters out there, but this is to be expected at this point in the race.

    Is that really true for the republican nomination process? It seems to me, and i could easily be mistaken, that most years the GOP has basically one candidate who is simply known to be the one very early on. That’s the advantage of their “next in line” approach. It’s just the last couple cycles that it seems there’s been any real race at all.

  8. ponce says:

    The “voter dissatisfaction” meme has been out there for awhile, yea

    Back in April, the ABC News/Washington Post poll had Republican voters’ satisfaction with their candidates down at 43%, so it’s not just something the “elites” invented:

    http://tinyurl.com/43c6o5l

    Now it’s up to 65%.

    Maybe the Republicans were just waiting for Rick Perry to get in?

  9. G.A.Phillips says:

    What does the Evangelical base do in November when they have to chose between a Republican cultist and a Democratic black man?

    Mitt don’t got a chance and Obama is a communist and half white devil….

  10. An Interested Party says:

    Mitt don’t got a chance and Obama is a communist and half white devil….

    Oh my, I wonder how many people in the Republican base agree with these views…as for GOP dissatisfaction, what do the Republicans/conservatives/libertarians around here think of the GOP choices….

  11. de stijl says:

    Of course there is Republican dissatisfaction with the field. It is dissatisfaction with Romney as the de facto nominee. Pawlenty, Huntsman, and Daniels were the runners-up in the money elite choice, but never caught on.

    If there were no dissatisfaction with the field there would not have been the Trump, Bachmann, and Perry boomlets.

    Perry is still arguably an electable man if he plays it correctly and may recover (i.e., apologize for not hating brown people more for the primaries but then tack centerish after nomination) but the fact that Trump and Bachmann once led the field shows that R voters are less than ecstatic with the money folks choice.

    Now we see Christie as the new savior, even though he is to the left of Giuliani, but he would implode after people actually looked at his record instead of Youtube vids of him telling schoolteachers, firefighters, and seniors to shut the eff up. Given his stances on issues, he is way outside of current R far-right orthodoxy.

    Electability and Passion are duking it out.

    Sorry. I’m floundering and not stating my point well. Let’s leave it at this: the electable candidates are not inspiring, and the ones that inspire passion are not electable.

  12. jan says:

    @de stijl:

    Sorry. I’m floundering and not stating my point well. Let’s leave it at this: the electable candidates are not inspiring, and the ones that inspire passion are not electable.

    I think you summed it up pretty well.

  13. Neil Hudelson says:

    Obama is a communist and half white devil

    Yup, I just can’t understand why more African American’s don’t vote for Republicans.

  14. Nikki says:

    @G.A.Phillips:

    Mitt don’t got a chance and Obama is a communist and half white devil….

    Mr. Phillips, your comments have inspired me to grant you privileges that are rarely given (and then only to a very select few outside of the melanin-enhanced class). You do hereby have my permission to your use of the “N” word. Unfortunately, I can’t give you exclusivity as I don’t have any legal means to do so. But at least you know that you are slightly more privileged than superdestroyer (or whatever handle he/she is now using); you have permission!

    Please feel free to use it as clearly, as loudly and as often as you’d like. Please be particularly vigilant to its use whenever and where ever you encounter a gathering of the melanin-blessed folks.

    Believe me, we are well aware that society’s restrictions on that word’s use have been particularly chafing for you and your ilk as evidenced by your posts on this very blog. Please feel free to print out this comment and present it to anyone who takes exception to your use of that word.

    Do it for the good of your country…hell, do it for the good of your health. Biting your tongue must be sending your blood pressure through the roof! You know you want to and you’ll feel so much better…

  15. Wayne says:

    Dissatisfied is a quantitative term. I am always hoping for a better candidate. I haven’t been that satisfied with candidates from either side since Reagan. Even Reagan had areas I thought could be improved. That doesn’t mean I’m disgusted with the current GOP field. I certainly won’t be voting for Obama.

    @Tlaloc
    Both sides have been guilty of that to a point, GOP more so then the Democrats. Most of the time it has been the party insiders choosing the top candidates and then the voters get to decide among the top choices. That change somewhat in the 2010 elections which scared the power brokers. IMO people are much more willing to go with the non establishment types. I think this will become more prevalent with both parties and will make old voting models obsolete. “Things are a changing”. Granted it won’t be easy and I wouldn’t bet the house on it. However time will tell.