A New Poll Highlights the Splintered State of the Republican Party – Bob and Barbara Dreyfuss on April 29, 2014 – 12:00 PM ET

GOP convention

The 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

There’s good news and bad news for Chris Christie in a new nationwide public opinion poll released today by Fairleigh Dickinson’s Public Mind. The good news is that despite his nonstop troubles since last fall, the New Jersey governor runs pretty much even with the rest of the Republican party’s leading would-be candidates for 2016. (The poll tested Christie head-to-head with Hillary Clinton, along with similar matchups for Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan and Mike Huckabee.) But that’s also the bad news. After his 60-percent-plus re-election win last November, Christie might have been positioned to be a clear front-runner for 2016. Now, not so much.

And there’s some more bad news for Christie and his GOP competitors: not one of them gets any traction—at least not so far, though it really too early to read too much into it—when pitted against Clinton. In the poll, Clinton leads Christie 46-36 percent, and she leads the rest of the field, too, by margins that are pretty much identical, given the poll’s margin of error: 48-37 vs. Paul, 49-33 vs. Bush, 49-36 vs. Huckabee and 46-38 vs. Ryan.

Some of what the poll measures is simply name recognition, says Krista Jenkins, associate professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University in northern New Jersey and the executive director of its Public Mind polling unit. And in that case, Hillary Clinton is almost universally recognized, whereas the Republican candidates, at least nationally, are far less known.

It does, however, does raise an interesting question about Jeb Bush, whose last name, at least, is part of a dynasty at least as well known as the Clintons’. If so, perhaps there’s a small message in the poll results for Bush, despite his widely recognized name. According to the numbers, Bush does least well head-to-head against Clinton, especially among women, where Clinton beats Bush by a hefty margin of 55-30 percent. If it means anything, it could be that American voters react instinctively, and negatively, to “another Bush,” and not so much to “another Clinton.”

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