Republican Voters Uninspired by Candidates

Republican Voters Uninspired by Candidates No candidate has yet caught fire with Republican voters, Adam Nagourney reports.

Three weeks before the Iowa caucuses, Republicans voters across the country appear uninspired by their field of presidential candidates, with a vast majority saying they have not made a final decision about who to support, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.

None of the Republican candidates is viewed favorably by even half of the Republican electorate, the poll found. In a sign of the fluidity of the race, one candidate who had barely registered in early polls several months ago, Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, is now locked in a tight contest nationally with Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts.

By contrast, Democrats are happier with their field and more settled in their decisions. For all the problems Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York appears to be having holding off her rivals Iowa and New Hampshire, she remains strong nationally, the poll found. Even after what her aides acknowledge has been two of the roughest months of her candidacy, she is viewed by Democrats as a far more electable candidate in the general election than either Senator Barack Obama of Illinois or John Edwards of North Carolina.

None of this is particularly surprising. Hillary Clinton has been the presumptive nominee since 2000 or so and her party is naturally chomping at the bit for a chance to unseat George W. Bush. By contrast, the Republican nominating electorate is divided among itself with no candidate who appeals to all sectors of the base.

Once a nominee emerges, however, that will cease to matter. While some Republicans will have difficulty summoning enthusiasm for any of the plausible nominees, few indeed will have trouble voting against Hillary Clinton.

Photo credit: ABC News

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies 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.

Comments

  1. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    …with a vast majority saying they have not made a final decision about who to support

    The pollsters have missed the point. This is the same as going to a good restaurant, studying the menu, and having difficulty deciding what to order. With so many good options to choose from, it’s hard to make the decision sometimes.

  2. James Joyner says:

    going to a good restaurant, studying the menu, and having difficulty deciding what to order.

    I think it’s more analogous to a large family of picky eaters having to all decide on the same entrée.

  3. Dave Schuler says:

    Voters of both parties are having difficulty on deciding whether to vote for a brand, an agenda, a resume, or an individual.

  4. […] each of the candidates also. Some more serious than others. I think James Joyner is right when he says. None of this is particularly surprising. Hillary Clinton has been the presumptive nominee since […]

  5. Are GOP voters uninspired by their choices for President in 2008?…

    A recent poll show republican voters haven’t made a final decision as to who to support in next year’s Republican primaries. Three weeks before the Iowa caucuses, Republicans voters across……

  6. Triumph says:

    Once a nominee emerges

    How about if a nominee emerges. It would not be inconceivable that we could have a REAL political convention next year where the actual nominee isn’t decided upon until Minneapolis.

  7. Bithead says:

    Which may in fact be the strategy behnd the one person not pictured above… Fred.

  8. Mark Jaquith says:

    The pollsters have missed the point. This is the same as going to a good restaurant, studying the menu, and having difficulty deciding what to order. With so many good options to choose from, it’s hard to make the decision sometimes.

    It’s more like knowing that Hot Pockets are for dinner — you just have to choose which flavor you’ll be tasting for half a second before your mouth blisters and your tongue turns to rubber, preventing you from tasting any other food for the next four years.

    “But I don’t want Hot Pockets for dinner!”

    “And which flavor Hot Pocket would you like?”

  9. Ronney says:

    Ron Paul is the only Republican candidate worth support. Imagine a President who followed the Constitution. It would be even more refreshing to have the Legislative and Judicial branches also follow the law.
    What makes Dr. Paul so different is his voting record supports his rhetoric.

  10. yetanotherjohn says:

    The most important poll numbers are the “willing to change their mind.

    76% of Republicans, 59% of Democrats say they could still change their minds.

    This isn’t over. Feb 5th is going to be the key date on both sides of the aisle. After Feb 5th, we should have a good idea if it will be a brokered convention or if someone will get the needed votes to win directly.

    If it is a brokered convention, McCain and Rudy are unlikely to accept the VP slot. Not sure about Romney. My sense is that Thompson and Huckabee would both accept the VP nod. Given that, look for the combined totals to see who is likely to get the nod.

    On the democratic side, it is more interesting. Conventional wisdom would have Obama happy with the VP nod. He’s young enough to run on his own 4 or 8 years later. His more junior standing on experience would be supplemented with the VP slot. But I doubt he would take the VP slot under Clinton for a variety of reason. Richardson would probably jump at the VP slot, but is not likely to generate enough votes to matter in a brokered convention. Not sure on Edwards accepting the VP slot. If he doesn’t get the top slot now, can he ever get it? I see no way that Clinton would take the number two position.

    Of course for both sides, the ‘super delegates’ are likely to be the real swing vote. They are awarded to the senior party officials (senators, governors, representatives, etc) and are by definition uncommitted by any primary/caucus. But they aren’t like to move in large blocks in a smoke filled back room. They are likely to go one by one.

  11. cian says:

    It’s more like knowing that Hot Pockets are for dinner — you just have to choose which flavor you’ll be tasting for half a second before your mouth blisters and your tongue turns to rubber, preventing you from tasting any other food for the next four years.

    Its more like taking the three kids hopped up on sugar to the cinema and what do they want? More sugar. Hell, if it stops them screaming for five minutes, give it them!

  12. James Joyner says:

    It’s more like knowing that Hot Pockets are for dinner — you just have to choose which flavor you’ll be tasting for half a second before your mouth blisters and your tongue turns to rubber, preventing you from tasting any other food for the next four years.

    Man, I’d KILL for some Hot Pockets! What an improvement that’d be!

  13. sam says:

    Man, I’d KILL for some Hot Pockets! What an improvement that’d be!

    Actually, isn’t the Republican reality more like this?

    Man: You sit here, dear.
    Wife: All right.
    Man: Morning!
    Waitress: Morning!
    Man: Well, what’ve you got?
    Waitress: Well, there’s egg and bacon; egg sausage and bacon; egg and spam; egg bacon and spam; egg bacon sausage and spam; spam bacon sausage and spam; spam egg spam spam bacon and spam; spam sausage spam spam bacon spam tomato and spam;
    Vikings: Spam spam spam spam…
    Waitress: …spam spam spam egg and spam; spam spam spam spam spam spam baked beans spam spam spam…
    Vikings: Spam! Lovely spam! Lovely spam!
    Waitress: …or Lobster Thermidor a Crevette with a mornay sauce served in a Provencale manner with shallots and aubergines garnished with truffle pate, brandy and with a fried egg on top and spam.
    Wife: Have you got anything without spam?
    Waitress: Well, there’s spam egg sausage and spam, that’s not got much spam in it.

  14. legion says:

    No candidate has yet caught fire with Republican voters, Adam Nagourney reports.

    Nagourney is quite wrong – but optimistically so. It’s not that no candidate has ‘caught fire’… several of the current big names have had periods of being considered the front-runner, the inevitable winner, etc. Remember a year or so ago? This nomination was supposed to be McCain’s to lose. Then he lost it to Rudy. Then it was Fred’s. Then, briefly, it was Romney’s.

    The problem is that every single one of the GOP possibilities have so many character flaws or skeletons in their closets that they cannot withstand the open-lights inspection of being ‘number one’. Don’t believe me? Take a good look at what’s happening to Huckabee right now.

  15. Tlaloc says:

    The right seems to seriously overestimate the clinton-hatred factor. They don’t realize that while they may have a severe hatred of Hillary that this is not universally true by any means. And in fact it seems that the more she is in the limelight the more her favorability grows, probably because the right has spent so much energy demonizing her that when people actually hear her they are pleasently surprised.

    Consequently I strongly believe that the supposed anti-hillary vote will end up being a pretty weak force in the elections. Enough surely to drive many of the hard right but with little or no pull on the creamy middle of the US electorate.

    (FYI I do not favor another clinton presidency mostly because, contrary to the myths of the right, Hillary is *extremely* centrist as well as contuing our current fetish with dynastic presidencies)

  16. just me says:

    I think James’ analogy is the closest to the truth. It is sort of like trying to choose what toppings to put on a pizza for a large group of people.

    I am not enthused by any of the candidates, although in the end I still like all of them better than the democrats. I am not convinced I am going to be overly enthused by the eventual candidate either. I haven’t even pinned down who I want to vote for in the primary, and that is just a few weeks away for me.

    At this point I figure I will end up eating the pizza, but will probably spend a lot of time picking off the mushrooms and onion I didn’t want, but everyone else did.

    This is definitely going to be a hold my nose and vote year, I really wish we could have a “none of the above” option-that would actually mean something.

  17. floyd says:

    Triumph;
    You really struck a chord! The people of Illinois have no voice in the national election.
    The very idea of a working representative convention is anathema to the bosses of either party.
    We had better start paying some attention to the “man behind the curtain” and make him “the man behind bars” before or franchise is completely gone.