Favorability of Republican Candidates
I thought this Gallup poll was fascinating. There are two very different things going on here.
First, three of the GOP candidates have problems with, roughly, one quarter of the GOP base. Fred Thompson, is the only GOP candidate with low unfavorables inside the party. Let’s be clear, last month, analysts were pointing at McCain’s GOP Fav/UnFavs and they were used as prima facia evidence that he couldn’t win a GOP primary. If those arguments are correct, then neither can Rudy Giuliani or Fred Thompson.
It seems that based on these numbers, there are really three very distinct candidates. McCain and Giuliani have good numbers both inside the party and outside. Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney are still, basically, unknown. However, Romney’s numbers inside the party suggest that there may be a ceiling. Thompson’s don’t so much.
The second point is the Fav/UnFav’s in the general electorate. Gallup says:
For most of the year, Giuliani has been the most favorably rated Republican candidate in the eyes of the American public. But in the current poll, McCain’s ratings have moved up to the point where he is essentially tied with Giuliani as the most positively evaluated of the four leading Republican candidates. More than half of Americans have a favorable opinion of McCain (53%) and Giuliani (52%). Thirty-eight percent rate Thompson favorably, and 27% favorably rate Romney. (It should be noted that the lower "favorable" ratings for Thompson and Romney are in part due to their overall lack of familiarity — 39% of Americans have no opinion of Thompson and 38% have no opinion of Romney.)
As Gallup notes in their title, Mitt Romney’s continued decline is a little striking:
While Romney’s favorable rating is the same as it was earlier this month, his unfavorable rating has increased and is now at its highest point to date (35%). Romney’s ratings had improved following his win in the Iowa straw poll in August, after which 33% rated him positively and 24% negatively. Since then, his ratings have quickly deteriorated. Romney now has a net negative image in the eyes of Americans (27% favorable, 35% unfavorable), as was the case in several polls this summer.
That said, Romney’s strategy is clear. The only numbers that matter to his campaign are in Iowa and New Hampshire. And he is doing fine there.
Again, it is clear that McCain and Giuliani are probably electable. Fred Thompson’s negatives are not a problem yet. If he is able to define himself, as opposed to his opponents in either the primary or the general, he could be in good shape.