Ron Paul at 38 Percent in Rasmussen Poll

Hillary Clinton beats Ron Paul 48 to 38 in the latest Rasmussen poll. As their own analysis shows, however, that says much more about Clinton than Paul.

A recent Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey featuring a match-up between Hillary Clinton and Ron Paul highlights one of the perils that comes from overanalyzing poll results between candidates with different levels of name recognition.

In that survey, Clinton held a fairly modest 48% to 38% lead. But, a careful look at the results tells us a lot about the public’s opinion of Hillary Clinton and virtually nothing about their opinion of Ron Paul.

Why? First, because just about everyone in the United States has an opinion of Hillary Clinton. She has been a major player on the national and international state for 15 years. Half the country has a favorable opinion of her and half holds the opposite view, but all have an opinion. Our most recent survey results show that nearly 60% of voters have a strongly held opinion about the New York Senator and former First Lady.

As for Ron Paul, 42% don’t know enough about him to have an opinion one way or the other. He’s one of 435 Congressman whose life is way below the radar screen for most Americans. Still, his presence in the GOP Presidential Debates has raised his profile a bit–26% now offer a favorable opinion and 32% say the opposite. But, only 16% have a strongly held opinion about Paul (7% Very Favorable, 9% Very Unfavorable).

A look at the crosstabs demonstrates that it is attitudes towards Clinton that are driving the numbers in this polling match-up. Among all voters, Clinton attracts 48% support. Among the voters who have never heard of Ron Paul or don’t know enough to have an opinion, guess what. Clinton attracts the exact same total–48% of the vote. So whether or not people have heard of Ron Paul as the challenger, support for Clinton doesn’t change.


So, outside of a small group of avid Ron Paul fans, support for Senator Clinton is unchanged whether or not the survey respondent has ever heard of Ron Paul.

Looking at other recent match-ups confirms the sense that what we’re seeing is primarily a reflection of attitudes about the Democratic frontrunner. In the latest Rasmussen Reports polling, Clinton gets 47% against Fred Thompson, 48% against Mitt Romney, 48% against Mike Huckabee, 44% against Rudy Giuliani, and 44% against John McCain.

A rather interesting result: Paul has yet to rise above 4 percent in the Rasmussen tracking poll yet he does as well against Hillary Clinton as anybody (within the +/-4% margin of error). What that says about the more well known Republican candidates, though, I’m not sure.

A separate Rasmussen analysis gets it right:

Hillary Clinton has become the unifying theme of Election 2008. That applies to the Democratic Nomination process, the race for the Republican nomination, and the general election.

That makes sense at this stage of the game, since Clinton is the overwhelming favorite on the Democratic side and is the right’s favorite bogeyman (bogeyperson?). I continue to believe, however, that the race won’t simply be about Hillary come the fall of 2008. The Republican nominee, whomever that turns out to be, is still going to have to present a competing leadership vision.

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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. 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:

    You’re evil, James. 😉

  2. Actually, that shouldn’t be a shock. Surely in a head-to-head poll of Hillary v. Any Republican (Ron Paul, John Smith, whomever) the Rep would get somewhere in the high thirties. Wouldn’t that simply demonstrate the baseline GOP vote?

  3. swanny says:

    Comment in violation of site policies deleted.

    Those wishing to buy candidate advertising should send inquiries to ot*@bl*****.com

  4. Paul says:

    I wonder what the percentages would be if Ron Paul had even half the name recognition as Hillary?

  5. Christopher Prickett says:

    Paul – That’s a simple one. Paul stands for an end to the war in Iraq (as do 70% of americans). Hillary voted for the war and has admitted to keeping the troops in Iraq until 2012 or longer.

    Paul is also adamant on our borders being secured, and denying benefits to illegal immigrants (as do 70% of Americans). Clinton voted for both amnesty bills this year (DREAM act last week).

    He can argue economics to her silly feel good socialist programs. ($5000 per child when we are bankrupt? Good grief!)

    In short – Paul would be a nightmare opponent for her.

  6. yetanotherjohn says:

    I would be interested in seeing the reverse poll. Rudy, Fred or Mitt vs Gravel or Kuchnik. That would test the 1/3 idea of Steven Taylor (that any R or D should get 1/3 of the votes based solely on party loyalty).

    I do have to admit that if I was presented with those two names, I would go into the undecided catagory.

  7. mnjrupp says:

    ma·nipu·la·tion (mə nip′y lā′ən, yəlāən)


    a manipulating or being manipulated; skillful handling or operation, artful management or control, etc.

  8. CCCNNN says:

    Where area all the Ron Paul freaks spamming the comments??? I’m sure they’ll interpret this article as saying that RP is going to take over the entire western hemisphere with his popularity.

  9. @ a comment that was deleted just after I grabbed this text – rare one) “In the latest Rasmussen Reports polling, Clinton gets 47% against Fred Thompson, 48% against Mitt Romney, 48% against Mike Huckabee, 44% against Rudy Giuliani, and 44% against John McCain.”

    Very good numerics, as far as they go. So why is Mr. Kucinich not even mentioned here? Everybody else is…

    @ Christopher Prickett: “Paul – That’s a simple one. Paul stands for an end to the war in Iraq (as do 70% of americans).”

    That 70% is less concerned with the peaceable candidate’s party than in his stand on the grave Constitutional issues that the Bush Administration has flung in our faces for going on seven solid years now. Smirks, sneers, new ways to harm America appearing via Unitary Plenary Executive Writ every day, and all.

    @ Christopher Prickett once more: “Hillary voted for the war and has admitted to keeping the troops in Iraq until 2012 or longer.”

    I only do pray that the occasionally brilliant transparency of her publick exterior is not indeed occluded and circumvented (sold out/bought off samesame) by an entirely impenetrable dead-black Inner core and heart. This has to do with Mister “Depends on What Your Definition of ‘is’ is” Clinton ( ) with respect to the sharp contrast between his public statements having to do with peace on Earth (but for them pesky Kosovars…), talking like to ban all WMD including ours – and his actual deeds (such as being the first ever to employ internationally illegal Depleted Uranium ordnance and all the attendant bio-destruction to ours and Everyone Else’s human genome, civilians and all.)

    I think such a deadly vice as the prior Clinton hypocrisy (also effectively way-prepping and stage-setting for the Bush /fascisti/ in the process, convenient ain’t it?) has yet to be atoned for in this world. How shall Miz Clinton turn /that/ kerffluffle-making around right?

    Not to bore past tears. I do have many misgivings re Miz Clinton’s actual intent re foreign and domestic policy alike, given the mess of shredded Constitution and all those horrific (to us) but highly cashflow-profitable if exploited (by them) legal precedents (no habeas corpus and a rising, fast-growing corporate-operated prison system (habeas corpus denied by the millions is conceivable and apparently quite meticulously planned-for, among numerous disquieting items) that shall surely stand (amid ongoing highly profitable chaos while the Rest of Us take the meltdown square on the chin) once the customary, business-as-usual pardon-partying is all signed off and wrapped up tight in the Oval Office.

    To a pig farmer, his livestock’s very manure pond smells like money. Some people are really not so very far apart, really, now are they? But here is the Impossible(FNORD) Excellence of what we have had placed before us. Let’s just look.

    There it is. Right under our noses. Amid a din of distractions and showbiz hype contrived to make up for the layer upon layer of alibi and excuse that passes for statesmanship from those oddly-parsed farmers-turned-corporatists, Cheney and Bush. (POISON.)

    Now here is remedy and even antidote.

    A Ron Paul/Dennis Kucinich write-in landslide, with the two as running-mates in the next round (second-place gets to be veep): How shall we have *that* become our Best Available instead of this largely misery-peddling, neighbor-beggaring, Mammon-minded Imperial Pretenders? Only two *genuine* candidates left to us – but yes, we have one of each color awning – and we stand like sheep as one is shoved straight off the stage and the other is pooh-pooh’d toward marginalization? Is THAT all the better we can muster toward QUALITY???

    No real need to focus so exclusively on the miscreant trust-fund Davos-and-Hellfire-Forever military-industrial-media-crime crowd plus One Lone Republican, imho. Let’s just play Find-The-Bonesmen now, spot ’em all from their perfidious predations upon all humankind, and bring on the Light of Day. And mind well the Oath…

    Yours in court as well as theirs in the Crypt. Ah, but Habeas Corpus… (Now y’see why this loop needs breaking *now*, Friend Bunky?)

    Those are all the civil words I have with which to accurately describe my own utter disgust at the manner in which liberty-hating, Constitution-disclaiming, Quisling-acting fluffbunny Democrat Party BushDawgs do fawn at their pretended Master’s feet in all things on Earth. The stench of the mammon is just overwhelming if one has but even a tiny little Third Nostril at all.

    But “Kucinich/Paul or nothing at all!” is a natural rallying cry, now ain’t it? Now flash on ol’ Popeye the Sailor and his famous, perennial Last-Minute Saves. “Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich. Healthy as Popeye and Spinach.”

    Good for the *real* (but not the sociopathic) America either way. PLEASE seek WISE council, Rudy! (A message to you…) You too, the contradictions are stacked to the ceiling by now, Good Soldier/Senator McCain.

    Increase the Peace.
    Reverse the Curse.
    Reject ALL terror.
    (You know you want to.)

    My world too. Peace. I’m out.