Republican Presidential Race A Dead Heat

The race for the Republican nomination is as tight as ever, and so far nobody seems to be emerging as a clear front-runner.

Campaign 2016

The race for the Republican nomination is as tight as ever, with a new Quinnipiac national poll showing five candidates tied for first place and several other candidates on their heels in a race that seems unlikely to see any significant breakthroughs until debates begin in August:

The Republican field for 2016 is growing increasingly top-heavy, with no clear front-runner emerging in the latest nationwide Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday.

Grabbing 10 percent apiece among Republican voters are former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul received 7 percent, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz 6 percent, Donald Trump 5 percent, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie 4 percent. Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina each received 2 percent.

“Safe to say, the 2016 Republican presidential primary is anyone’s race. With no front-runner and identical numbers for the top five contenders, it’s a horse race which can only be described as a scrambled field — at least so far,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the poll.

Asked which candidate they would definitely not support, 21 percent responded that they would not back Trump. The next closest was Bush at 17 percent, and Christie was close behind at 15 percent.

Among all voters, 46 percent say Paul is honest and trustworthy, tops among all candidates, though just 26 percent of Democrats responded that way.

This poll shows a closer race than some other recent national polls, and the polling average reflects that by putting Bush, Walker, and Rubio at the top while candidates such as Huckabee, Carson, Paul, and Cruz make up what would roughly be called the middle of the pack. Left at the bottom are candidates like Chris Christie, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, and Carly Fiorina, all of whom are averaging between five percent and one percent in the polls right now. Most immediately, of course, this is important due to the fact that Fox News and CNN have announced that the first Republican debate on August 6th would only be open to the candidates who are in the top ten in the polling average in the most recent polls. Right now, that would mean declared and potential candidates such as Fiorina, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, and New York Governor George Pataki, who entered the race today, would be excluded. Unless these candidates can find a way to break out of the pack, this will continue to be the case heading through August and the lack of media exposure is likely to further doom their campaign. Exclusion from the first debates, combined with a bad performance at the Iowa Straw Poll later in the month, could go a long way toward winnowing out the Republican field before we even get to Labor Day.

National polls don’t tell us the full story of the race for the nomination, of course. Polling at the state level is generally far more informative, especially polling in the early states such as Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. There isn’t really any news to report on that front, though, because there hasn’t been any new polling in any of these states since the beginning of May. So, while there may well have been movement in Iowa, New Hampshire, or South Carolina, we don’t really have any way of knowing that. Given that, these national polls, which are generally easier for polling companies to conduct for logistical reasons, are the best guide that we have to what’s going on in the Republican race and what they are telling us right now is that the Republican race is closer than we’ve seen in previous election cycles, and it’s entirely possible it will stay that way until the debates start.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held 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 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed for too young in July 2021.

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Well, we may not be able to say who’s winning but for certain sure we know who’s losing:

    Us.

  2. Mark Ivey says:

    I’m thinking about joining the GOP field for Prez myself, i better make my youtube video tonight…

  3. michael reynolds says:

    If the crazies feel excluded they won’t go quietly. It could look like “establishment” vs. “crazies” and the crazies who make the cut – Ben Carson, Huckabee – will be under pressure to support their fellow crazies like Santorum and Cruz. You don’t want Santorum and Cruz locked out and railing from the sidelines, let alone excluding the only woman out of (approximately) 242 male candidates.

  4. gVOR08 says:

    @Mark Ivey: Follow the protocol. Announce that you’re going to announce well before you announce that you’re announcing.

  5. Pinky says:

    The margin of error is 3.8%, so basically everyone’s tied for first. That’s assuming that a poll on this subject has any meaning at all in May. I guess it does have meaning in that it doesn’t indicate a dominant frontrunner, but it doesn’t mean anything in terms of someone being out of the running.

  6. CSK says:

    @gVOR08:

    I like the way you think. Comes the dawn of November 9, 2016, candidates for 2020 will be announcing that they’ll be announcing that they’ll be announcing that they’ll be announcing that they’ll be announcing that they’ll be announcing…

  7. gVOR08 says:

    There isn’t enough popcorn in the entire world.

  8. EddieInCA says:

    @Pinky:

    It has meaning due to the size of the clown car. It has meaning because this poll, and others like it, when averaged out, will determine who gets to be on stage to sell themselves. The GOP might end up with 15-20 candidates – many of which appeal to completely different electorates.

  9. grumpy realist says:

    Oboy–popcorn time!

    If this continues closer to the debates I bet quite a lot of mudslinging.

  10. JohnMcC says:

    National polls don’t really tell us too much about the nomination at this point; as stated above, state polls are most useful for that. But a few interesting items regarding national preferences pop up when you look at the Quinnipiac – dot – edu site:

    HRC vs Paul – 46% – 42%
    vs Rubio – 45% – 41%
    vs Christie – 46% – 37%
    vs Huckabee – 47% – 40%
    vs Bush – 47% – 37%
    vs Walker – 46% – 38%
    vs Cruz – 48% – 37%

    “Going to war with Iraq was the wrong thing to do, American voters say 59 to 32 percent. Republicans support the 2003 decision 62 – 28 percent, while opposition is 78 to 16 percent among Democrats and 65 – 26 percent among independent voters.”

    “…(F)or the House of Representatives, 39 percent of American voters say they would vote for a Democrat in their district, while 36 percent would vote Republican. In states which have Senate races, 42% would vote Democratic and 35% would vote Republican.”

    The usual caveat about ‘very early in the race’, ‘things can change’, etc but it’s pretty striking that right now the race is shaping up exactly as Dem’s hope and predict.

  11. JohnMcC says:

    @Pinky: Not to be unnecessarily argumentative but as long as I had the specifics (the “internals” – I think they’re called) on my screen:

    “From May 19 – 26, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,711 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of +/- 2.4 percentage points. Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones. The survey includes 679 Republicans with a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percentage points and 748 Democrats with a margin of error of +/- 3.6 percentage points.”

    So the horserace figures have a MOE of 3.8%. The other findings that I mentioned above have significantly less.

    Incidental finding: Bernie Sanders is at 15% before his official announcement.

  12. JohnMcC says:

    @JohnMcC: OOPS! Sen Sanders’ announcement was on 26 May. (Mr Foot, meet Mr Mouth.)

  13. al-Ameda says:

    We’re in crazification – 27% – territory again:
    Huckabee + Carson = 20%, and I think it’s fair to speculate that if Santorum had declared earlier he would probably have 7% or so.

    Right now, I think Rubio and Jeb are the frontrunners.

  14. Tillman says:

    Normally the sieving of this many candidates would be the priority/job of the official party, and their best tool would be the restriction of funds from the national committee. SuperPACs and billionaires wishing for a more productive way to burn their money have upended this system. Is anyone honestly surprised this is the result? The only reason the Dems haven’t ended up in a similar bag is because Clinton has an unprecedented lock on the nomination, but if reporters digging into foundation finances find something actually scandalous they’ll be in a similar boat.

  15. C. Clavin says:

    Hahahaha….

    There are five leaders – or no leaders – as Republican voters look at likely GOP candidates in the 2016 White House race, with no candidate above 10 percent and 20 percent undecided, according to a Quinnipiac University National poll released today.

    http://www.quinnipiac.edu/news-and-events/quinnipiac-university-poll/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=2228
    Undecided wins in a landslide!!!!
    But seriously…if I had to chose between these numb-skulls…I’d be undecided too!!!!

  16. PJ says:

    @Pinky:

    The margin of error is 3.8%, so basically everyone’s tied for first. That’s assuming that a poll on this subject has any meaning at all in May. I guess it does have meaning in that it doesn’t indicate a dominant frontrunner, but it doesn’t mean anything in terms of someone being out of the running.

    This.

    I don’t recall seeing any poll so far where any Republican candidate has had a lead outside the margin of error. Yet, there have been numerous blog posts about a candidate being in the lead…

  17. humanoid.panda says:

    Here is a spoiler: barring a major scandal (Walker) or revelation that he is an empty suit during debates (Rubio) one of the two will be the nominee. Jeb won’t be the nominee, because he seems to be sucking at politics. Rand, Ted, Ben, Mike and the rest of the clown show won’t be because LOL. ** If Rubio and/or Walker falter, look at Kasich or even Christie to make some noise.

    ** Of that group, the one who could catapult into the race for real is Cruz, because unlike the others, he can appeal to several different facets of the Republican coalition, and the only people he alienates totally are moderates, and no one gives a shit about them.
    The end.

  18. humanoid.panda says:

    @JohnMcC:

    “…(F)or the House of Representatives, 39 percent of American voters say they would vote for a Democrat in their district, while 36 percent would vote Republican. In states which have Senate races, 42% would vote Democratic and 35% would vote Republican.”

    One thing to note is that 2016 is 2014 in reverse: there are plenty of senate races in deep blue states (California, Illinois, New York) and that’s totally skewering the national figures in a poll like this).

  19. CS says:

    So, if it’s top 10 then Trump may make the cut. The idea of a serious candidate looking serious while on a stage like that is… slim.

    I’ll break out the popcorn…

  20. ElizaJane says:

    On a sober note, this was the data that stood out for me in this poll:

    American voters say 53 – 39 percent that Clinton is not honest and trustworthy, but say 60 – 37 percent that she has strong leadership qualities. Voters are divided 48 – 47 percent over whether Clinton cares about their needs and problems.

    Voters say 37 – 31 percent that Rubio is honest and trustworthy, 42 – 28 percent that he has strong leadership qualities, and 38 – 35 percent that he cares about their needs and problems.

    So — Rubio is currently within 4 points of Clinton, and a substantial majority of Americans think her dishonest and untrustworthy.

    Honestly, her campaign is so inept. They have let the Republicans totally define her. A few years ago she was the most admired woman in America. Now she’s untrustworthy. I believe that this is a real problem, and that Rubio could potentially beat her. He may be callow and ignorant, but hey, George W. Bush won (kind of) and so could Rubio. He’s still an unknown quality to many voters and has much room to define himself and expand in the polls.

    I’m not sure about any of the others. Paul could never get this nomination, Bush has as much baggage as Hillary does (it’s just gotten less media attention); Walker is a dope (but see above, GWB). Carson, Huckabee, and Cruz are all jokes. The Republican establishment would never let any of them be nominated, and I don’t even think that the Republican electorate is that stupid.

  21. gVOR08 says:

    @humanoid.panda: I don’t agree with your dismissal of Bush. He does indeed suck as a candidate. I’m beginning to think it’s because he just isn’t terribly bright. How can he have failed to have a focus grouped answer to Iraq teed up months ago? But, this matters in next year’s primaries.

    Right now he seems to be doing real well at the all important hidden primary with the funders. Difficult to be sure, because, well, hidden; but it sounds like he’s winning. As Stormy keeps pointing out, it’s a long way to the primaries, going to be a lot of ad buys between now and then. If you can sell bottled water for a buck a liter, you can sell Jeb to the Tea Party.

  22. DrDaveT says:

    Republican Presidential Race A Dead Heat Loss

    ‘Nuff said.

  23. ElizaJane says:

    @gVOR08:

    The Democrats would be very lucky if Bush got the nomination. He’s the only one with enough obvious baggage to balance out Hillary’s. I find it hard to believe that the big Republican donors could be that stupid.

  24. Tillman says:

    @ElizaJane: What surprises me is that anyone answers “Yes” to a poll question asking if a politician is honest or trustworthy.* The job description pretty much requires a faculty for deceit, either in dealing with constituents or peers. You can’t be honest to both of them and expect to succeed.

    * Presuming people who answer polls are honest themselves.

  25. wr says:

    @grumpy realist: “If this continues closer to the debates I bet quite a lot of mudslinging.”

    If I worked for Jeb, I’d start working on tearing down Rand Paul’s entirely unearned reputation for honesty and integrity. Can’t let him get too far ahead there…

  26. wr says:

    @humanoid.panda: It would be nice to see anyone in our crusading press corps ask Cruz why he voted against Sandy relief funds, saying that the government had no business using tax dollars to bail out individual areas from disaster, and now demands complete funding to rescue storm-battered Texas.

  27. JohnMcC says:

    Two thoughts: First, that the only Republican campaign in recent history in which the Repubs won the GOTV battle was 2004 when Mr Rove mounted a huge effort to turn out evangelicals. There were registration drives and voter’s guides in conservative churches. Pastors of those churches were vigorously courted and pursued. Anti-SSM amendments were on state ballots; here in FL we had ‘Prop 2’ to the state constitution. And it must be conceded that Mr Kerry was not the charismatic candidate to overcome that attack after being forced on the defensive by the despicable ‘swift boat’ business. Since then, Sen McCain gained substantially less votes than did Mr Bush and Mr Romney won even fewer. Obviously, the SSM issue is finished as a way for Repub campaign planners to pull a rabbit out of the hat. In fact, it’s working to their disadvantage. They have nothing for issues and their prime candidate Mr Bush is turning into Fred Thompson who was a fabulous candidate until the day he started actually campaigning.

    Second: In 2012, women’s votes made the difference as much as anything. Yes, the virtual unanimity and turn-out of African-Americans and the strong showing of young and Hispanics is noted but if you break down the exit polling the fair and gentler sex gave us Mr Obama’s second term. They cast 53% of the votes in that election. Knowing that, just look at the internals of this Gallop poll.

    If you favor Republican candidates, read ’em and weep. It’s all written in front of your eyes.

  28. superdestroyer says:

    Who cares? Until there is either a poll or a reasonable model that shows that the Republicans can be competitive in 2016, why pay attention to Republican polling? Instead of focusing on a bunch of irrelevant Republicans who have zero chance of being president and who are irrelevant to policy or governance in the U.S., why not focus on what a Clinton Administration will actually look like.

  29. edmondo says:

    George Pataki announced today? I wonder if Mrs. Pataki knows?

  30. humanoid.panda says:

    @gVOR08:

    Right now he seems to be doing real well at the all important hidden primary with the funders. Difficult to be sure, because, well, hidden; but it sounds like he’s winning. As Stormy keeps pointing out, it’s a long way to the primaries, going to be a lot of ad buys between now and then. If you can sell bottled water for a buck a liter, you can sell Jeb to the Tea Party.

    He is getting a lot of money, yes, but there are three other elements of the invisible primary he is not managing well: getting endorsements (he has none), keeping others from race (Rubio is glaring example), and getting media voices behind him. This is all not how things were suppossed to happen according to his plans..

  31. humanoid.panda says:

    @ElizaJane:

    Honestly, her campaign is so inept. They have let the Republicans totally define her. A few years ago she was the most admired woman in America. Now she’s untrustworthy. I

    A few years ago she was a non-partisan figure. Now she is a politician again. This is just laws of gravity operating.

  32. gVOR08 says:

    @edmondo: Edmondo wins the intertubes today.

  33. Paul Hooson says:

    Sounds a lot like last time where there was a strong “anyone but Romney” wing of voters that created a different front-runner each week until GOP voters finally came back to Romney. – Probably Bush and Clinton are the 2016 matchup with a close race with many voters with reservations about both candidates. With Bush, expect another war somewhere and a bad economy, like his father and brother, and with Clinton, expect a decent economy on the rebound, no major wars, but scandals…

  34. Pinky says:

    There’s a difference between “clowns” and “people I disagree with”. There are half a dozen of them who would make fine general election candidates. And it’s not like any of them fantasize about “A woman on her knees. A woman tied up. A woman abused.” It’s not the number of people that makes a clown car, it’s the fact that they’re ridiculous.

  35. gVOR08 says:

    @Pinky: On the other hand, it takes more to be “fine general election candidates” than agreeing with Pinky. Which half dozen do you have in mind?

  36. EddieInCA says:

    @Pinky:

    There are half a dozen of them who would make fine general election candidates.

    The only two who would haven’t announced yet. Bush and Kasich.

    The rest are not viable candidates. None. Not one of the GOP candidates can get to 270 in their current incarnations. They cannot.

    Here’s the field, as it stands now:

    • Skip Andrews ◄ DECLARED
    • Michael Bickelmeyer ◄ DECLARED
    • Kerry Bowers ◄ DECLARED
    • Jeb Bush ◄ EXPLORING
    • Dr. Ben Carson ◄ DECLARED
    • Dale Christensen ◄ DECLARED
    • Chris Christie ◄ EXPLORING
    • Ted Cruz ◄ DECLARED
    • John Dummett, Jr. ◄ DECLARED
    • Bob Ehrlich (possible)
    • Mark Everson ◄ DECLARED
    • Carly Fiorina ◄ DECLARED
    • Jim Gilmore (possible)
    • Lindsey Graham ◄ EXPLORING
    • Chris Hill ◄ DECLARED
    • Mike Huckabee ◄ DECLARED
    • Bobby Jindal ◄ EXPLORING
    • John Kasich (possible)
    • Peter King (possible)
    • Michael Kinlaw ◄ DECLARED
    • Dennis Michael Lynch ◄ EXPLORING
    • George Pataki ◄ DECLARED
    • Rand Paul ◄ DECLARED
    • Rick Perry ◄ EXPLORING
    • Michael Petyo ◄ DECLARED
    • Marco Rubio ◄ DECLARED
    • Brian Russell ◄ DECLARED
    • Rick Santorum ◄ DECLARED
    • Rick Snyder (possible)
    • Donald Trump ◄ EXPLORING
    • Scott Walker ◄ EXPLORING

    Which of these six would make “fine general election candidates”? I’m genuinely curious which six you think could be competitive.

    http://2016.republican-candidates.org/

  37. michael reynolds says:

    @ElizaJane:

    You know the phrase rope-a-dope from boxing? Hillary was going to get beat up. That’s inevitable, and of course she knows what’s out there. So she lays back on the ropes and lets herself get beat on. Two dozen men, beating on a woman for month after month after month.

    Don’t be so sure Hillary’s team are idiots. If you’re taking a beating do you want it 17 months out or 7 weeks out? I’m not saying she’s holding a royal flush but I’d rather play her hand than any of theirs.

  38. J-Dub says:

    @michael reynolds: wait, we’re playing cards now? I thought we were boxing?

  39. gVOR08 says:

    @EddieInCA: Thanks for the link. OMG, Skip Andrews, Michael Bickelmeyer, and the rest actually exist.

  40. gVOR08 says:

    @gVOR08: Also Morrison Bonpasse and Andy Caffrey on the Dem side, four Libertarians no one but Doug ever heard of, one Green, two Constitution, and four independents; all declared or exploratory.

  41. michael reynolds says:

    @J-Dub:
    And it is not easy to play cards while wearing boxing gloves.

  42. Pinky says:

    @michael reynolds: If you watched closely, Holyfield and Pacquiao actually spent part of Round 8 at a blackjack table.

  43. gVOR08 says:

    @gVOR08: I see POLITICO is reporting Lincoln Chafee will announce soon. Who even knew he was a Democrat now?

  44. Ian says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    If the Bushes and Clintons simply married, we could stop this silly “election” nonsense altogether.