Thursday, April 21, 2011

Poll Finds Few Favorites in G.O.P. Fight for President

With less than a year to go before the Iowa caucuses, Republican voters have yet to form strong opinions about most of their potential candidates for president in 2012, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
Only those possible contenders who regularly appear on television — or have made bids before — are well known enough to elicit significant views from their fellow Republicans. And of that group, only one, former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, is viewed favorably by more than half of the Republican electorate.
The poll would seem to reflect the late start to the Republican primary season, with many of the major likely candidates seeking to hoard their money and avoid making any missteps that they might have to live with later, when voters go to polls or caucus rooms.
While it may not be unusual for voters’ attention to be focused elsewhere at this stage of a campaign, the survey at the very least provides a reality check for a race that has received frenetic coverage at times on cable news and the Internet even though nearly 60 percent of Republicans cannot point to a single candidate about whom they are enthusiastic, according to the Times/CBS poll.
A host of potential Republican candidates have a lot of work ahead — and money to spend — to make themselves better known to their party faithful and other Americans.
For instance, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota may be drawing media attention as a Republican presidential contender, but nearly 80 percent of Republican respondents to the Times/CBS poll said they did not know enough about him to say whether they viewed him favorably or unfavorably (of those who do have an opinion, 20 percent say they view him positively and 3 percent say they view him negatively).
Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi may be well known along the corridors of K Street — where he was once a lobbyist — and among Washington-based reporters who covered him as a one-time Republican Party chairman. But 85 percent of Republican voters said they did not know enough about him to offer an opinion.
Jon M. Huntsman Jr., who is stepping down as ambassador to China, might take heart that five times as many party members view him favorably as view him unfavorably. But that is just it: literally 5 percent of Republican poll respondents said they viewed him favorably, 1 percent said they viewed him unfavorably and more than 90 percent said they had nothing to say either way because they had not heard enough about him.
Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota; Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana, and former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania drew similar responses.
Sarah Palin, the one-time vice-presidential candidate and former governor of Alaska — who is a regular on Fox News, which the survey said was the television news network most watched by Republicans — is the best known of the possible candidates, according to the poll. She is viewed the least favorably by the general public: Twice as many respondents over all said they had an unfavorable view of her (55 percent) as said they had a favorable view (26 percent).

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