Republicans like Jeb Bush. And a lot really don’t like Donald Trump.
In fact, more than half find Trump a distraction from the primary process, not a serious candidate.
With the first Republican presidential debate coming up Thursday, a new McClatchy-Marist poll finds that a majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents personally like Bush, saying they view him favorably rather than unfavorably. Large numbers also like Marco Rubio and Mike Huckabee, far more than dislike them.
But nearly half dislike Trump, suggesting that the billionaire businessman who leads national Republican polls will have a hard time reaching those personally hostile voters and growing his constituency, while a host of others have room to surge.
The debate in Cleveland, the first of a monthly series, will feature the 10 Republicans, plus ties, atop an average of national polls. As many as seven other candidates will not qualify and instead can participate in a late afternoon forum.
The McClatchy-Marist poll dropped questions about voting choices in this survey, believing the debate criteria is a misuse of public polling data for a critical first debate. This survey instead measures how voters feel about the candidates for the Republican and Democratic nominations.
The favorable numbers illustrate whether a candidate starts with goodwill. As the primary campaign develops, voters who like a candidate or see him favorably are more open to hearing their message. Analysts also note that when voters don’t like a candidate, they’re much less likely to be open to supporting them.
Bush, the former governor of Florida, has the highest favorable number, 51 percent, with 30 percent disliking him.
Rubio, a senator from Florida, gets favorable notices from 49 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and negative ratings from 15 percent.
Other prominent challengers had unfavorable ratings of less than 20 percent but were largely unknown to much of the public, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
Florida voters know Bush and Rubio well. Betty Brown of Sarasota is one who prefers Bush.
“I’ve always been for the Bushes in the past, and I am a steadfast Republican,” she said. “As far as his knowledge, and the way our nation is right now, he would be the better of the candidates.”
She had praise for Rubio, saying, “I do support a lot of his platform, but I think Jeb would overrule my vote (for Rubio).”
Rick Stevens of Shalimar isn’t going with Bush.
“I supported him when he was our governor, but he is a little too eager to get along with everybody and we’ve had enough of that,” Stevens said. He likes Rubio but wants a candidate “with a little more life experience.”
If Bush were the Republican nominee, Stevens would support him. But he wants somebody “stronger on constitutional values.” He supports Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Trump leaves him cold – he “feels a little too much like a loose cannon,” Stevens said.
In such a big field, Trump’s 42 percent favorable could be enough to win primaries and caucuses. He gets strong support from activist wings of the party.
62% Percentage of Republican tea party supporters who view Donald Trump favorably.
“Among the party base, he’s a force to be reckoned with,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion in New York.
Others with negative images face tougher tasks. Chris Christie, the outspoken governor of New Jersey, and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina were both seen far more unfavorably than favorably.
Here’s the list, ranked by favorability, followed by unfavorability:
– Bush, 51 percent favorable, 30 percent unfavorable;
– Rubio, 49-15;
– Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, 45-30;
– Walker, 43-16;
– Trump, 42-49;
– Carson, 40-10;
– Rick Perry, former governor of Texas, 38-26;
– Rand Paul, senator from Kentucky, 38-37;
– Cruz, 37-24;
– Rick Santorum, former senator from Pennsylvania, 31-27;
– Christie, 31-44;
– Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, 29-17;
– Carly Fiorina, former business executive, 26-12;
– John Kasich, governor of Ohio, 23-14;
– Graham, 15-40;
– Jim Gilmore, former governor of Virginia, 2-15.
Former New York Gov. George Pataki was not included in the poll.
Among Democrats, front-runner Hillary Clinton was seen overwhelmingly favorably by Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. Her challengers are barely known, not even Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who’s been drawing big crowds and vocal support from the party’s liberal wing.
50% Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents who are unsure about or never heard of Bernie Sanders.
The Democratic rankings:
– Clinton, 72 percent favorable, 22 percent unfavorable;
– Sanders, 34-16;
– Jim Webb, former senator from Virginia, 12-14;
– Martin O’Malley, former governor of Maryland, 10-13;
– Lincoln Chafee, former governor of Rhode Island, 8-14.
Clinton supporters cite her record. “She is a very bright lady and she tries to do her best at all times,” said Victoria Halley of Clearwater.
Lucille Macchia, of Osprey, is a Clinton supporter “as of this moment.”
It’s because “one, she’s a Democrat, two, she’s a woman, three, she’s got a lot of smarts. She’s got experience in politics,” Macchia said. “Everything I know about her I like.”
She doesn’t know enough about Sanders, so she said, “As time goes on, my views might change.”
William Douglas, Corinne Kennedy, Michael Doyle and Emma Baccellieri of the Washington Bureau contributed.
This survey of 1,249 adults was conducted July 22-28 by The Marist Poll sponsored and funded in partnership with McClatchy. Adults 18 years of age and older living in the continental United States were interviewed in English or Spanish by telephone using live interviewers. Landline telephone numbers were randomly selected based upon a list of telephone exchanges from throughout the nation from ASDE Survey Sampler, Inc. The exchanges were selected to ensure that each region was represented in proportion to its population. Respondents in the household were selected by asking for the youngest male. To increase coverage, this landline sample was supplemented by respondents reached through random dialing of cell phone numbers from Survey Sampling International. The two samples were then combined and balanced to reflect the 2013 American Community Survey one-year estimates for age, gender, income, race, and region. Results are statistically significant within plus or minus 2.8 percentage points. There are 964 registered voters. The results for this subset are statistically significant within plus or minus 3.2 percentage points. There are 345 Republicans and Republican leaning independents and 450 Democrats and Democratic leaning independents. The results for these subsets are statistically significant within plus or minus 5.3 percentage points and plus or minus 4.6 percentage points, respectively. The error margin was not adjusted for sample weights and increases for cross-tabulations.