New Jersey voters' views of presidential candidates take on new and greater significance because the state's presidential primary in 2008 has been moved from June to February, now barely a year away. The most recent PublicMind survey took an early snapshot of New Jersey registered voters' preferences for 10 prominent Democrats and 9 Republicans, all of whom are thought to be likely candidates to replace Bush in 2008.
The best scores among Democrats go to Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama who garner favorable opinion among 72% and 70% of Democratic voters, respectively. Clinton's name recognition is 100% compared to 74% for Obama. Favorable views of Senator Clinton outnumber negative opinions by 6 to 1. But Obama is evaluated even more positively by Democratic voters, with his favorable to unfavorable ratio coming in at 9 to 1.
Asked who they might support for the Democratic nomination, a substantial plurality of Democrats (41%) favored Clinton. In fact, her 41% exceeded the combined support for Obama (15%) and John Edwards (13%), and equaled the combined support for all the other named Democratic candidates in the survey.
Most notable among those who did not fare well is five-term Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd. Despite his media visibility in the tri-state area, only 40% of Democrats recognized the senator's name. Moreover, half of those who said they recognize him had no opinion of him, favorable or unfavorable. Also among the candidates who will not be pleased with what New Jersey voters think are Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who was the only candidate to garner more unfavorable than favorable ratings, and Senator John Kerry – the former Democratic presidential nominee – who barely broke even on the favorable to unfavorable ratio (4:3). Worse, despite his 92% name recognition, just 5% said they would support Kerry for the 2008 nomination.
On the Republican side, Clinton's fellow New Yorker Rudy Giuliani achieved 100% name recognition, followed by former New York Governor George Pataki with 97%, Senator John McCain with 96%, and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, with 94%. But Giuliani also posted a stratospheric 15:1 ratio of favorable to unfavorable opinion as nearly 87% of Republicans say they have a favorable view of the former mayor of New York. Meanwhile, two-thirds of Republicans say they have a favorable impression of McCain.
Asked whom they might support in the presidential primary nearly half (48%) of Republicans chose Giuliani, compared to 23% who preferred McCain.
Those faring especially poorly in the Republican field include former House Speaker Newt Gingrich who, despite widespread name recognition, was preferred by only one in ten Republicans. Likewise, George Pataki, with 97% name recognition, was preferred by just 3%.
The PublicMind poll of randomly selected registered voters statewide was conducted by telephone from January 2 through January 7. This report is based on interviews of 272 Democrats and 184 Republicans. The margin of error for Democrats only is +/-6 percentage points and for Republicans only is +/-7 percentage points. But the margin of error varies with the number of responses to each question.
Peter Woolley 973.670.3239
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