A Bunched Pack of GOP Contenders

June 1, 2015 — Quinnipiac University just released a new poll (May 19-26; 1,711 registered U.S. voters; 679 likely Republican primary voters; 748 likely Democratic nomination system participants) that clearly reveals the closeness and fluidity of the Republican presidential contest. No less than five candidates are tied for first place, and the entire field of 16 tested individuals fall within 10 points of one another.

Though this is a small-sample national survey and not reflective of the state-based system in which candidates participate to win a presidential nomination, the data still has value because it suggests that no potential contender is summarily eliminated.

Jointly in top position with just 10 percent preference apiece are former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (now also residing in the Sunshine State), ex-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Just three and four points behind them are Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (seven percent), and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (six percent).

The remaining tested candidates, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC), Gov. Bobby Jindal (LA), Gov. John Kasich (OH), ex-Gov. George Pataki (NY), former Gov. Rick Perry (TX), ex-Sen. Rick Santorum (PA), and businessman Donald Trump (NY) all land in the one to five percent range.

The Quinnipiac results also support at least a pair of concrete conclusions. First, with such a large field and no one poised to establish any discernible advantage, a brokered convention is on the political horizon. In a configuration as this poll depicts, it becomes extremely difficult for any one candidate to secure majority delegate support prior to the Republican National Convention commencing in Cleveland by mid-July of next year.

Second, we again see bad news for Jeb Bush. Here, 72 percent of the respondent pool renders a hard-fast opinion (28:44 percent favorable to unfavorable) of the presidential son and brother, and virtually all can identify him. Therefore, with almost universal name identification, Jeb Bush can only muster 10 percent support, and is tied with one candidate (Carson), for example, who has never before run for office and about whom 60 percent of the respondent universe wants to hear more information. With each poll that continues to show this kind of data, reversing such a trend for Bush becomes an extremely difficult task.

The Q-Poll finds no surprises occurring so far on the Democratic side. Hillary Clinton again scores well over majority support (57 percent) and leads her closest rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, by 42 percentage points.

In general election ballot tests, it is senators Paul and Rubio who fare best against the former Secretary of State and First Lady. Both pull to within three and four points of her (45-42 percent for Paul; 45-41 percent for Rubio). Gov. Walker, who many believe may be the GOP’s strongest general election nominee, trails Clinton by nine — 38-47 percent.

But the results are not all positive for the former First Lady. Against the eight Republicans individually tested, she reaches 50 percent against only Donald Trump, who scored a miserable 20:69 percent on the favorability index, and the question of her honesty is still dragging her down. A majority of these respondents, 53 percent, do not feel Clinton is “honest and trustworthy”. Only 39 percent answered affirmatively to the veracity question.

Another clue that the honest and trustworthy issue is a serious problem for Clinton comes in analyzing the Q-Poll’s female segment. Though the former Secretary of State and First Lady registers leads between 14 (over Huckabee) and 26 points (against Trump) among women versus each of the selected Republican candidates, even this tested female segment group doesn’t forge into positive territory (45:47 percent) with regard to judging her trustworthiness.

The early campaign signs continue to point to an incredibly close Republican nomination contest and subsequent general election campaign. It is already clear that nothing is predictable about this particular political campaign.

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