2/23: The Latest on the GOP Race

Where does the race for the Republican nomination stand?  What are the chances of a brokered convention?  And, who has the best odds against President Barack Obama?   The Marist Poll’s John Sparks visits with Marist Poll Analyst and syndicated political columnist Carl Leubsdorf who writes a weekly column for The Dallas Morning News about  this and more.

Carl Leubsdorf

Carl Leubsdorf

Listen to the interview below.

Part 1:


Podcast Powered By Podbean

John Sparks
Carl, where do you think things stand on a Republican nominee at this point?

Carl Leubsdorf
Well, I think the Republican race is much more uncertain than we thought it would be at this stage. The general assumption was that Mitt Romney was a reasonably strong frontrunner and would show that, but he’s proved to be a weaker front-runner than many people anticipated. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with his campaign, and his campaign is well run. He’s got lots of money. In fact, his money has saved him so far. He has two big problems.

One is that the dominant conservative wing of the party has never quite accepted him as one of theirs. Romney keeps insisting he’s a conservative, but the problem is that he wasn’t always a conservative. He was pretty moderate when he ran against Ted Kennedy for the Massachusetts’ Senate race in ’94. He was pro choice. He was in favor of doing positive things for the gay and lesbian community. He at one point was a registered independent. He voted for Democrat Paul Tsongas in the ’92 Democratic Presidential Primary and was critical of President Reagan. So, his conservatism is rather recent and to some critics in the party is something that he’s acquired for purposes of running for president.

His other problem is he’s just not an effective candidate. He has trouble when he gets off his script. He doesn’t mesh with real people too well, and he has a tendency to say some odd things.  He was last week, for example, in Michigan and talking about his affinity for Michigan, the state in which he grew upin.  He said he loved Michigan. He said he loved its trees. They’re the right height. Now, what in the devil does that mean? He talks not like a real person sometimes, so he’s had a lot of trouble there.

The real fight in the party has been: Who is the conservative opponent for Romney? That’s sort of been going on from the beginning and, as we know dating back to last summer, we’ve had a whole string of pretenders [sic], various Republican contenders — Michele Bachmann; Governor Perry of Texas, Herman Cain soar to the top of the Republican race then in December, Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House. About the only one who didn’t was Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania Senator and who was plotting along working in Iowa, visiting every country there. But in the end, the conservatives in Iowa sort of solidified around Santorum. On the night of the caucuses, it appeared he had lost narrowly there, but when they finally counted all the votes, he in fact beat Mitt Romney there. It’s been a peculiar race though. Then Mitt Romney won in New Hampshire where he has a summer home, and it’s adjacent to Massachusetts where he was a governor. He looked like he was on the right track, but then in South Carolina, a state that every Republican nominee has won since they started their primary in 1980, Newt Gingrich beat Romney rather decisively. The following week in Florida, Romney turned the tables on Gingrich. Meanwhile, Santorum was sort of finishing well back in the pack in some of those states. Well he was working in some of the caucus states rather than the primary states, which it’s a lot cheaper to run there, and they’re the kinds of situations dominated by the more conservative wing of the party. And on Tuesday two weeks ago, he scored three victories which have catapulted him into the lead in the national — in most national Republican polls. It was an odd set of races. One was Missouri, a non-binding primary where he won quite easily. The other were two caucus states which Romney had won four years ago, and that I think explains why these had such a big impact. One was Minnesota where Governor Romney had the support of the state’s former governor and one of its leading Republicans, Tim Pawlenty, and Santorum won there. And the other is Colorado, not considered as conservative a state, a state with quite a few Mormons in it as Romney is, and Santorum won that too. So, it really turned the race upside down.  It established Santorum as the main rival to Romney. And in Michigan, that is next week we have two primaries, in Michigan and in Arizona, and the major test is Michigan, the state in which Governor Romney grew up in and where his father was a popular Republican governor in the ’60s, and every poll so far shows, Santorum leading there.  So, if Santorum would actually beat Romney in Michigan that would really turn this race upside down. Romney could no longer be considered the front-runner, and it would really set Santorum with a real chance of becoming the nominee, but that hasn’t happened yet.

So, that’s a long version of where things stand.

Listen to Part 2:


Podcast Powered By Podbean

John Sparks
If something like that does happen, looking down the road, where do you think the tides might turn for a candidate? In Texas, the primary has been delayed until probably late May. Could Texas be a decider?

Carl Leubsdorf
Texas, I mean… And actually, I think Santorum would probably like to have Texas sooner rather than later because there’s a new poll put out by the Texas Tribune and the University of Texas that shows Santorum with a rather substantial lead. Remember this: The Texas Republican Party is very conservative. In the primary for governor last year where Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison challenged Governor Perry, Hutchison got 30% of the vote, Perry got 50% of the vote, and a Tea Party candidate got 20% of the vote. That means that 70% of the votes cast were cast for very conservative candidates.  So, this is not a good — Texas is not a good state for Romney. He’s probably just as well for the primary has been delayed indefinitely.

What happens after next Tuesday, and I mentioned that Arizona is also voting next Tuesday, its rivals have pretty much conceded that to Governor Romney. So whatever happens, he’ll have a victory, but if he only wins Michigan – - wins Arizona and doesn’t win Michigan, it will be something of a hollow victory because the real fight is in Michigan.  The week after that we have so called “Super Tuesday” with a whole bunch of primaries. Some are in states like Massachusetts where Governor Romney almost certainly is going to be the winner, but in states like Tennessee and Oklahoma and Georgia, Newt Gingrich’s home state, so it’s going to be a very interesting day and not a great day probably for Romney. His next big stand would probably come on the 20th of March in Illinois, the kind of state that Romney as a more moderate Northern candidate ought to be — have a good chance in. But, as I say, if Romney loses in Michigan next week, all bets are off.

Listen to Part 3:


Podcast Powered By Podbean

John Sparks
Carl, could it be that we could head into the National Convention and see a brokered convention if things keep flip-flopping?

Carl Leubsdorf
Well let me approach that in a couple of ways because every time we have one of these fights and it looks a little bit inconclusive, the first words that come out are “brokered convention.” First of all, it’s not clear who would broker a convention because the idea that candidates who have run for months and months and years in some cases would suddenly say, “Okay, we’re deadlocked, let’s like let a bunch of party leaders who’ve been on the sidelines decide it.” It ain’t[sic] going to happen that way.  That’s not how it works.  To have a brokered convention, you probably need three, at least three candidates with substantial number of delegates. Now the problem in the Republican Party now is that there are four candidates still staying in the race, and one of the issues will be whether in addition to Santorum and Romney, the other two candidates, Gingrich and Ron Paul, continue to acquire delegates. That’s not at all certain. Someone did a study, and they said that if Romney won the rest of the primaries with 49%, he wouldn’t win enough delegates to be nominated till June. If one of these candidates starts winning more decisively, they will not be getting 49% of the votes, they’ll be getting 59% and 69%, and they will be getting well over half of the delegates in most of these races. Gingrich, for example, has got to make a showing on Super Tuesday with races in Georgia and Tennessee. I haven’t seen any Georgia polls, but, in Tennessee, the last poll I saw had Santorum up by a pretty substantial margin. Gingrich’s only hope is that his principal financial supporter, Mr. Adelson out in Las Vegas, is planning to spend a lot of money in his behalf. That might help keep him in, but he is — he looks like the guy on the outside now as Santorum and Romney are fighting, and Ron Paul is sort of working along the fringes in smaller states. He will continue to get delegates, but it’s not clear how many delegates. So, that’s the first thing. There has to be three candidates getting delegates because otherwise the leading candidate, assuming there becomes a leading candidate, will begin to pile up delegates at a big pace.

If one of the candidates has a substantial lead, but it doesn’t quite get to the figure over 1,100 that they need to be nominated, the first thing that would probably happen is that that candidate would try to make an accommodation with one of the other candidates to get some of his delegates.  As I say, the idea that Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum and Ron Paul and maybe Newt Gingrich after running all year would suddenly step in the sidelines and let former Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi or Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana try to decide the nominee, it just doesn’t happen.

Now the other possibility is that another candidate comes into the race. There are a number of primaries where the deadlines have not yet been reached and where a candidate could come in. Now that’s very hard to do. There’ve been a number of examples. It’s very interesting. The pattern of this race is beginning to resemble two past races of recent years in which there was an insurgency against a rather weak establishment candidate. One was 1964 when Barry Goldwater was running against Nelson Rockefeller for the Republican nomination. One was 1972 where George McGovern was challenging Senator Ed Muskie for the Democratic nomination on the Vietnam War issue. In both cases another candidate did come in. As Muskie began to collapse in ’72, the party leadership encouraged Hubert Humphrey, the former vice president, to get into the race, and he carried the race all the way to the convention but did not win. In 1964 when the Rockefeller candidacy faltered and it appeared that Goldwater was going to get nominated, a number of the party leaders got behind Governor Scranton of Pennsylvania and got him into the race in the last month, and that went nowhere. Goldwater had enough delegates and was nominated. So, you could get another candidate in. You could get party leaders to trying to do something, but there’s no guarantee that they would derail some arrangement among the top candidates. The danger here is that if the more ideological candidate gets nominated, and that would be Santorum in this case, the danger is that that candidate often has a more difficult time winning the general election. Goldwater carried six states against Lyndon Johnson, and McGovern carried one state in the District of Columbia against Richard Nixon. Now, this election won’t be that one-sided in any case. The Republicans will certainly win a certain number of states in the South and in the mountain area, and the Democrats will certainly will win a bunch of states in the Northeast, but what looks on paper to be a close race might not be so close if the Republicans nominate a candidate who drives away independent voters.

Listen to Part 4:


Podcast Powered By Podbean

John Sparks
As Republicans continue to battle in public, isn’t the real winner sitting in the White House sitting on his $76 million in campaign funds waiting for the general election?

Carl Leubsdorf
Sure.  As I said, the battle — the real key to this election are the independents. The Democrats are 90% for Obama, and the Republicans are 90% for whichever one of these candidates gets nominated, but the different tallies show different numbers among the independents.  Most of the discussion of that until very recently had to do with Romney versus Gingrich and that Romney was a better candidate against the independents, for the independents, being more moderate than Gingrich. It’s more complicated with Santorum because on one hand, he seems to have definite appeal to blue collar voters, what we call the “Reagan Democrats,” the people who were union people and of ethnic origin who had been traditional Democrats but were fairly conservative on social issues and began to vote Republican often starting with President Reagan, but there’s another group of independents, and those are the suburban independents. I always like to call them the  “Clinton Republicans.” They probably voted for Reagan in the ’80s, but they then voted for Bill Clinton in the ’90s, and they voted for Al Gore, and they certainly voted for Obama, and they’re not as conservative on the social issues. And if the Republicans have a candidate who stresses social issues, like Santorum, he’s going to have a lot trouble with the suburban voters in major states.

The White House likes this. The White House has been planning all along for a race against Romney.  You know, Romney is still the more likely candidate, but he has shown his weakness steadily through this race, but they’re also beginning to consider what would happen if Santorum were the candidate. They haven’t done much about that yet. There’s a lot of material on Santorum, especially from his unsuccessful re-election race in Pennsylvania in 2006 against Bob Casey, a conservative Democrat. Lots of material from there that has not been used so far, which the Democrats have. So, a lot of that will depend on what happens here. The White House is quite happy for the Republicans to be fighting among themselves, using up their financial resources, and the fact that the campaign has taken on such a negative tone among these candidates, especially in the television commercials.  So, the White House is quite pleased through this. In the meantime, the economy has gotten somewhat better, and so, it looks like President Obama’s situation politically is somewhat better than it was last year. That doesn’t mean he’s yet a strong favorite to win, it still looks like a close race, but more and more people who follow this are thinking that Obama’s chances are beginning to edge above the 50% mark.

Listen to Part 5:


Podcast Powered By Podbean

John Sparks
Interesting that you mention independents. Twenty years ago, Ross Perot launched his presidential bid as a third party candidate. Last week, Tom Friedman was talking about that and suggesting maybe the time was now ripe for an independent candidate, a third party candidate.  Any chance of something like that happening?

Carl Leubsdorf
There has been a group called “Americans Elect” that is talking about getting a ballot space in every state with the idea of having an Internet primary and putting a candidate on the ballot. The problem with this is they don’t at this point have a candidate, and most American third party movements have been driven not by parties but by candidates. For example, when Ross Perot decided to run for president 20 years ago, he created the mechanism to get on the ballot. It wasn’t like there was a party out there that nominated Ross Perot, and the same thing happened in 1968 when former Governor George Wallace of Alabama ran as an independent candidate for president. So this Americans Elect group so far does not have a candidate. I’ve noticed over the weekend there is one person who has emerged who might try to win that nomination. His name is David Walker. He’s not known at all. He’s a deficit hawk who was the comptroller general of the United States, which is a bookkeeping job pretty much in the government, and he’s been a big advocate of cutting the deficit and taking stern measures and not — to deal with the deficit issue.  So he might be a candidate for that, but I think it’s going to be very difficult for a third party candidate to be in this race.

John Sparks
Carl, in 1992 when Perot ran, the clear loser was an incumbent president, George H. W. Bush. If a third party candidate were to emerge, who would be most likely to be vulnerable?

Carl Leubsdorf
I think probably if someone ran on a deficit cutting ticket that it would probably hurt President Obama more than the Republican candidate. It’s interesting, Alan Lichtman, the Professor of history at American University who developed a system for judging president races, has what he calls “13 Keys to the Presidency.”  And if a certain number turn against the president, the incumbent president he’ll lose.  And he became very famous about 20 years ago because one he was one of the early people who fingered George H.W. Bush as a loser in 1992 as he turned out to be, and one of his keys is a third party candidacy, a third party candidacy in his system hurts the incumbent. Again, it really depends how many votes the… you could say that the Ralph Nader candidacy, which is, of course, Nader has run several times, in 2000 defeated Al Gore because Nader got enough votes in New Hampshire, presumably mostly from liberals, that it was more than the difference by which Gore lost the state to George W. Bush.  And without Nader in the race, Gore probably would’ve carried New Hampshire, and that would’ve been enough to win that very close election. So in that, he was running as the candidate of the incumbent party. So I think a centrist independent is bad for Obama. On the other hand, if say — and there’s no sign of this at point, suppose Mitt Romney wins the Republican nomination, and a group of conservatives get together and say, “He’s too moderate for us, we want a conservative candidate,” and they run a conservative candidate as a third party candidate and get on ballot, that would obviously hurt the Republicans.

Listen to Part 6:


Podcast Powered By Podbean

John Sparks
If you just have a Republican versus the President in November, who’s the best candidate?  Who prevails if it’s Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, or even Ron Paul? Who do you think has the best chance?

Carl Leubsdorf
Well, I think the assumption all along has been that Romney would have the best chance basically because he’s more moderate than the others.  He would have a better chance of getting independent votes, and most of the polling until now has shown that. Now interestingly, some of the more recent polling has shown Santorum’s chances are almost as good, and the places where Santorum would challenge Obama more may be somewhat different from the states where Romney would. Romney, a lot of people, more moderate voters, probably don’t believe Romney’s conversion to conservatism like the more conservative Republicans who don’t believe it either and might vote for him on that basis. Now he says he’ll have a very conservative presidency and has listed some of the positions he’ll take, and then that’s always a danger that the zeal of the newly converted is greater than that of the traditional holder of the views. George W. Bush ran as something of a moderate personality in 2000, but he said he would name Supreme Court justices like Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, and he named two very conservative Supreme Court justices. So, you got to be careful of what you wish for, it may not be what the candidate will advocate.

But at the moment, Romney looks stronger, but he’s got a lot of flaws as a candidate. For example, you would think that he would be able to take advantage of the bad economy in a place like Michigan, his home state because of him being a businessman, but he opposed the bailout of the auto companies which has been spectacularly successful and has saved General Motors and Chrysler, and he’s still arguing that it was a bad idea. That’s hurting him in Michigan. Heck, it’s hurting him against Santorum in the primary even though they both had the same position, partly because Romney was in favor of the bank bailout but against the auto bailout whereas Santorum was much more consistent. He was against both of them.  So, I still think Romney is (a) the more likely nominee and (b) the stronger general election candidate, but he’s been hurt a lot by the race so far.

John Sparks
Carl, it’s always a pleasure. I’ll be watching with interest, as I know you will, and look forward to visiting with you again real soon.

Carl Leubsdorf
Happy to do it, and it’s just been a fascinating race and much more than we could’ve bargained for.

1/24: Obama Leads Potential GOP Challengers by Wide Margins in NY

January 24, 2012 by  
Filed under Featured, NY State, NY State Poll Archive, Politics

President Barack Obama will deliver his State of the Union address this evening.  And, the good news for the president is the state of his electoral chances in New York is strong.

President Barack Obama

whitehouse.gov

Click Here for Complete January 24th, 2012 NYS NY1/YNN-Marist Poll Release and Tables

The president leads his closest competitor, Mitt Romney, by 23 percentage points among registered voters statewide.  Nearly six in ten — 58% — are for Obama while 35% support Romney, and 7% are undecided.

“New York ranks with the bluest of the blue states,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “There’s nothing in the numbers to suggest it will be any different this election cycle.”

In a hypothetical contest between the president and Newt Gingrich, 63% favor Obama compared with 31% for Gingrich.  Six percent are undecided.

When pitted against Rick Santorum, 61% of registered voters support Obama while 33% are for Santorum, and 6% are undecided.  Against Ron Paul, the president has the support of 62% compared with 28% for Paul.  Nine percent are undecided.

Table: 2012 Hypothetical Presidential Tossup: Obama/Romney

Table: 2012 Hypothetical Presidential Tossup: Obama/Gingrich

Table: 2012 Hypothetical Presidential Tossup: Obama/Santorum

Table: 2012 Hypothetical Presidential Tossup: Obama/Paul

Obama Approval Rating at 46% in NYS

How do voters in New York State think the president is doing in office?  46% believe President Obama is doing either an excellent or good job.  This includes 13% who say he is doing an excellent job and 33% who report he is doing a good one.  26% rate Obama’s performance as fair while 28% think he is doing poorly.  Less than one percent is unsure.

In November, 44% gave the president high marks, 27% gave him a fair rating, and 29% said the president was performing poorly.  Less than one percent, at the time, was unsure.

Table: Obama Approval Rating

Table: Obama Approval Rating Over Time

Trend Graph: Obama approval rating.

Click on the graph to enlarge the image.

Concrete Approval Rating for Schumer

A majority of registered voters in New York — 56% — thinks Senator Chuck Schumer is doing either an excellent or good job in office.  Included here are 18% who report Schumer is doing an excellent job and 38% who think he is doing a good one.  More than one in four — 27% — rate the senator’s performance as average while 12% think he is falling short.  Five percent are unsure.

Schumer’s approval rating is unchanged since NY1/YNN-Marist’s November survey.  At that time, 56% also gave Schumer a thumbs-up, 26% gave him fair grades, and 15% believed his performance was subpar.  Three percent, then, were unsure.

Table: Schumer Approval Rating

Table: Schumer Approval Rating (Over Time)

Trend Graph: Schumer approval rating.

Click on the graph to enlarge the image.

38% Definitely Plan to Vote for Gillibrand

When it comes to the re-election chances of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, fewer than four in ten registered voters in New York — 38% — say they definitely plan to cast their ballot for her.  Nearly one in five — 18% — report they plan to vote against her.  A notable 44% are unsure.

Similar proportions of voters had these views in November when 39% believed they would definitely support Gillibrand in her re-election bid, 22% said they would not, and 39% were unsure.

Gillibrand struggles to convince voters that she is doing well in office.  40% rate her performance as above average.  This includes 6% who say she is excelling in her post and 34% who believe she is doing a good job.  About three in ten — 29% — think Gillibrand’s job performance is fair while 12% say she is falling short, and 18% are unsure.

In November, 41% gave Gillibrand above average marks, 32% said she was doing a fair job while 11% reported she was doing poorly.  16%, at the time, were unsure.

Table: Definitely Plan to Vote For or Against Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in 2012

Table: Gillibrand Approval Rating

Table: Gillibrand Approval Rating (Over Time)

Trend graph: Gillibrand approval rating.

Click on the graph to enlarge the image.

How the Survey Was Conducted

Nature of the Sample

1/19: Romney Leads Gingrich by 10 Points in South Carolina; 5 Points Post-Debate

January 19, 2012 by  
Filed under Election 2012, Featured, NBC News/Marist Poll

As the Republican presidential candidates crisscross the Palmetto State in the days leading up to Saturday’s South Carolina primary, Mitt Romney leads Newt Gingrich, 34% to 24%, among likely Republican primary voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate based on interviews conducted on Monday and Tuesday.

South Carolina map

©istockphoto.com/FotografiaBasica

Debates matter.  Romney’s Monday lead of 15 percentage points over his closest competitor, Newt Gingrich, narrowed to 5 percentage points on Tuesday following Monday night’s debate.

Click Here for Complete January 19, 2012 South Carolina NBC News/Marist Poll Release

Click Here for Complete January 19, 2012 South Carolina NBC News/Marist Poll Tables

Here is how the contest stands among likely Republican primary voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate in South Carolina:

Candidate Total Pre- debate Post- debate
Mitt Romney 34% 37% 31%
Newt Gingrich 24% 22% 26%
Ron Paul 16% 15% 17%
Rick Santorum 14% 15% 13%
Rick Perry 4% 3% 5%
Other 1% <1% 1%
Undecided 8% 8% 7%

 

“Romney has not closed the deal in South Carolina,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “Monday night’s debate has changed the political landscape, and it’s now a much more competitive contest.”

Key points:

  • Overall, Romney — 36% — leads Gingrich — 28% — among likely primary voters who are Republicans. Romney’s advantage over Gingrich of 13 percentage points, 39% to 26%, on Monday disappears on Tuesday when Romney has 31% to 30% for Gingrich among this group of voters.
  • Among independents, Romney has 30% to 28% for Paul, and 17% for Gingrich.  On Monday, 31% of independents supported Romney followed by 24% for Paul and 14% for Gingrich.  On Tuesday, Paul received 31% to 29% for Romney and 20% for Gingrich.
  • Looking at those who are very conservative, Gingrich is favored by 33% compared with 23% for Romney and 22% for Santorum.  On Monday alone, Gingrich received the support of 32% followed by 27% for Romney and 24% for Santorum.  On Tuesday, Gingrich is backed by 35% compared with Santorum at 20% and Romney at 19%.
  • Both Romney and Gingrich receive 31% of Tea Party support over the two night survey.  But, on Monday, Romney garnered 35% to 27% for Gingrich.  On Tuesday, Gingrich is backed by 34% to 27% for Romney.
  • Similarly, among likely Republican primary voters who are Evangelical Christians, when the two nights are combined Romney has the support of 29% to 25% for Gingrich, and 18% for Santorum.  On Monday, Romney led with 36% to 22% for Gingrich and 18% for Santorum.  On Tuesday, Gingrich receives 27% followed by 22% for Romney and 19% for Santorum.

Table: 2012 South Carolina Republican Presidential Primary Overall (SC Likely Voters with Leaners and Absentees)

Table: 2012 South Carolina Republican Presidential Primary Pre-Debate on Monday, January 16th (SC Likely Voters with Leaners and Absentees)

Table: 2012 South Carolina Republican Presidential Primary Post-Debate on Tuesday, January 17th (SC Likely Voters with Leaners and Absentees)

Bain Pain for Romney?

Romney has taken heat for his past involvement with the private equity and investment firm, Bain Capital, but 48% of likely Republican primary voters think the criticism is unfair including 70% of Romney’s supporters.  22%, however, believe it is fair while 20% have not heard anything about Romney’s role at Bain Capital.  11% are unsure.  There is little difference between Monday and Tuesday nights.

More than six in ten likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina — 61% — believe investment firms like Bain Capital help the U.S. economy through free market practices while 24% think these firms hurt the economy by profiting at the expense of jobs and workers’ wages.  15% are unsure.

31% of registered voters in South Carolina say the criticism of Romney’s experience with Bain Capital is unfair, 25% believe it is fair, and 34% have not heard anything about it.  11% are unsure.  Not surprisingly, almost three in ten Democrats — 29% — view the criticism as well-founded while a plurality of Republicans — 45% — call it unfair.  Among independent voters, 31% think the criticism is unfair while 26% say it is not.

When it comes to the impact on the economy, 42% of registered voters in the state believe these types of investment firms have a positive influence while 33% think they are harmful.  One in four — 25% — is unsure.

Table: Criticism of Mitt Romney’s Past Experience at Bain Capital (SC Likely Voters)

Table: The Impact of Investment Firms like Bain Capital on the U.S. Economy (SC Likely Voters)

Table: Criticism of Mitt Romney’s Past Experience at Bain Capital (SC Registered Voters)

Table: The Impact of Investment Firms like Bain Capital on the U.S. Economy (SC Registered Voters)

Electability Tops List of Key Candidate Qualities

Nearly four in ten likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina — 39% — prefer a candidate who can defeat President Barack Obama in the general election.  A candidate who is closest to them on the issues comes in a distant second with 21% followed closely by a preference for a candidate who shares their values with 20% and someone with the experience to govern with 18%.  Three percent are unsure.

There has been a shift on this question.  In NBC News/Marist’s December survey, 28% of likely Republican primary voters thought a candidate who shared their values was the most important quality for a candidate to possess.  26% wanted a candidate who had the same positions on the issues while 23% believed experience was key.  Only about one in five — 21% — reported their priority was a candidate who could defeat President Barack Obama in the general election, and 3%, at the time, were unsure.

Key points:

  • Among those who favor electability, Romney leads.  He has 43% to 29% for Gingrich.  Gingrich has made inroads among likely Republican primary voters whose priority is electability.  On Monday alone, Romney — 46% — outpaced Gingrich with 25%.  On Tuesday, Romney received the support of 40% to 32% for Gingrich.
  • Romney — 41% — also leads Gingrich — 26% — among those who want a candidate who has the experience to govern.
  • Paul and Romney each receive 24% among likely Republican primary voters who want someone who shares their positions on the issues.  They are followed by Gingrich with 20% and Santorum with 17%.
  • Santorum edges his competitors among voters who want someone who shares their values. He is backed by 25% compared with 20% each for Romney and Paul.  Gingrich receives 18%.

Table: Most Important Quality in a Republican Presidential Candidate (SC Likely Voters)

Majority Strongly Supports Choice of Candidate in South Carolina

55% of likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina say they are strongly committed to their choice of candidate.  29% somewhat support their pick while 15% might vote differently on Saturday.  One percent is unsure.

There has been an increase in the proportion of likely Republican primary voters who are firmly committed to their choice of candidate.  When NBC News/Marist last reported this question in December, 43% said they strongly supported their pick while 31% reported they were somewhat behind their candidate.  23%, at the time, thought they might change their minds, and 3% were unsure.

Key points:

  • 61% of likely Republican primary voters who back Romney and 58% of those who are Gingrich supporters are firmly entrenched in their candidate’s camp.  This compares with 50% of likely Republican primary voters who support Paul and 44% of those who are for Santorum.

Table: Intensity of Support (SC Likely Voters)

Gingrich, Romney Top List as Second Choice…Paul Liked Least

Which candidate is voters’ second choice?  22% select Gingrich while a similar proportion — 21% — picks Romney.  Santorum is the second choice of 19% compared with 15% who say Perry is their fallback candidate.  Paul is the reserve candidate for 12%, and 11% are undecided.

Which candidate is the least liked?  36% mention Paul while 21% have a negative feeling toward Gingrich.  13% have a less than stellar impression of Romney while Perry and Santorum are least liked by 12% and 11%, respectively.  Seven percent are undecided.

Table: Second Choice for the Republican Presidential Primary (SC Likely Voters)

Table: Least Liked Candidate for the Republican Presidential Primary (SC Likely Voters)

Field of Republican Candidates On Par, Say 48% of Voters

Nearly half of likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina — 48% — think this year’s field of candidates is average.  21% report it is above average, and 8% go a step farther and say it is one of the best groups of GOP candidates.  Only 13% believe the roster is below average, and 8% think it is one of the worst fields of candidates.  Two percent are unsure.

Table: Quality of the Field of Republican Candidates (SC Likely Voters)

Majority Views Romney as Acceptable Candidate…Gingrich Less Acceptable

A majority of likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina — 56% — say Romney is an acceptable GOP nominee.  26% agree but have reservations, and 17% report he is an unacceptable choice.  Two percent are unsure.  In NBC News/Marist’s December survey of South Carolina, 53% thought Romney was a good fit for the nomination.

Likely Republican primary voters have a less favorable view of Gingrich.  Currently, 47% believe Gingrich is an acceptable choice to top the GOP ticket while 23% find him to be acceptable but with hesitation.  28% don’t think Gingrich is an acceptable choice for the nomination, and 2% are unsure.  In December, 63% thought Gingrich was a good fit for the GOP nomination.

When it comes to Santorum’s acceptability, a plurality of likely Republican primary voters – 44% — thinks Santorum fits the bill while 29% agree but with concerns.  23%, however, say Santorum is not a good fit for the nomination, and 4% are unsure.

37% believe Perry is a good pick for the nomination while 28% report he will do, but they have reservations.  31% think Perry is an unacceptable candidate, and 4% are unsure.  In December’s NBC News/Marist survey, 31% said Perry was a satisfactory choice for the nomination.

Paul is the least acceptable candidate.  Only 30% of likely Republican primary voters in the Palmetto State perceive Paul to be an acceptable candidate for the nomination.  26% say he is a good fit, but they have reservations while 42% believe he is an unacceptable pick.  Two percent  are unsure.  29% of likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina believed Paul to be a good choice for the nomination in NBC News/Marist’s previous survey.

Table: Acceptability for Republican Nomination — Romney (SC Likely Voters)

Table: Acceptability for Republican Nomination — Gingrich (SC Likely Voters)

Table: Acceptability for Republican Nomination — Santorum (SC Likely Voters)

Table: Acceptability for Republican Nomination — Perry (SC Likely Voters)

Table: Acceptability for Republican Nomination — Paul (SC Likely Voters)

Perceptions of the Candidates and the Campaign

Which groups and interests do the candidates represent?  What is the overall tone of the campaign?  Likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina weigh in.

  • Romney is perceived by 23% of likely Republican primary voters to be the candidate who best understands voters’ problems.  Gingrich follows closely behind with 22%.
  • Three in ten likely Republican primary voters — 30% — think Romney is the candidate who is spending the most time talking about the issues.  Gingrich receives 21%.
  • A plurality — 41% — thinks Gingrich is the candidate who is spending the most time attacking his opponents.  19% perceive Romney to be the candidate who is slinging the most mud.
  • Overall, many likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina think the campaign has been negative.  64% believe the candidates are spending more time attacking each other while 26% say they are talking about the issues.
  • Santorum — 22% — Gingrich — 21% — and Paul — 20% — vie for the title of true conservative.  Romney is thought to be the real conservative in the contest by 13% compared with Perry at 9%.
  • A majority of likely Republican primary voters — 56% — say Romney is the candidate with the best chance of defeating President Barack Obama in the general election.
  • 58% believe it is more important that the GOP nominee be able to beat Obama while 36% want a candidate who is a true conservative.

Table: Candidate Who Best Understands Voters’ Problems (SC Likely Voters)

Table: Candidate Who is Spending the Most Time Talking About the Issues (SC Likely Voters)

Table: Candidate Who is Spending the Most Time Attacking His Opponents (SC Likely Voters)

Table: Are Candidates Spending More Time Talking About Issues or Attacking Each Other? (SC Likely Voters)

Table: Candidate Considered True Conservative (SC Likely Voters)

Table: Candidate Who Can Beat President Barack Obama (SC Likely Voters)

Table: Which is More Important, a Candidate Who is a True Conservative or One Who Can Beat President Obama? (SC Likely Voters)

Debates Key in Shaping Vote…Ads, Not So Much

Seven in ten likely Republican primary voters — 70% — say the debates have at least somewhat helped them decide their vote.  However, only 28% consider campaign ads to have influenced their vote to at least some extent.

Table: To What Extent Have the Debates Helped in Deciding Your Vote? (SC Likely Voters)

Table: To What Extent Have the Campaign Ads Helped in Deciding Your Vote? (SC Likely Voters)

The Great Ecumenical Divide

A majority of likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina — 53% — believe a Mormon is a Christian while 47% think a Mormon is not a Christian or are unsure.

In December, voters divided.  50% of likely Republican primary voters in the state believed a Mormon is a Christian while 50% thought a Mormon is not a Christian or were unsure.

Key points:

Table: Are Mormons Christian? (SC Likely Voters)

49% Disapprove of Obama’s Job Performance

While 44% of registered voters in South Carolina approve of the job President Barack Obama is doing in office, nearly half — 49% — disapprove, and 7% are unsure.

This is little changed from when NBC News/Marist last reported this question in December.  At that time, nearly half of registered voters in South Carolina — 48% — disapproved of the job President Obama was doing in office.  44% gave the president good grades, and 8% were unsure.

Table: President Obama Approval Rating in South Carolina (SC Registered Voters)

How the Survey Was Conducted

Nature of the Sample

1/6: Romney Holds Wide Lead in New Hampshire

January 6, 2012 by  
Filed under Election 2012, Featured, NBC News/Marist Poll

With all eyes on New Hampshire, Mitt Romney outpaces his closest competitor, Ron Paul, by 20 percentage points among likely Republican primary voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate.  Rick Santorum, whose support was in single digits in NBC News/Marist’s early December survey, is now in third place with 13%.  But, for Newt Gingrich, there’s bad news.  Gingrich, who was in second place last month, now sees his support cut to 9%.

pin in new hampshire map

©istockphoto.com/Fotografiabasica

Click Here for Complete January 6, 2012 New Hampshire NBC News/Marist Poll Release

Click Here for Complete January 6, 2012 New Hampshire NBC News/Marist Poll Tables

Here is how the contest stands among likely Republican primary voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate in New Hampshire:

  • 42% for Mitt Romney (+3)
  • 22% for Ron Paul (+6)
  • 13% for Rick Santorum (+11)
  • 9% for Newt Gingrich (-15)
  • 9% for Jon Huntsman (no change)
  • 1% for Rick Perry (-2)
  • 5% are undecided (+1)

“Expectations are sky-high for a big Romney victory,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “These numbers are a table setter for this weekend’s debates, the last best chance for a major turnaround that would deprive Romney of a decisive win.”

When NBC News/Marist last reported this question in early December, 39% of likely Republican primary voters including leaners backed Romney.  24% supported Gingrich while 16% were behind Paul.  Nine percent were for Huntsman while Michele Bachmann, who has since suspended her campaign, received 3%.  Three percent also favored Perry, and 2% were for Santorum.  Four percent, at that time, were undecided.

Among the potential Republican electorate in New Hampshire, that is, all Republicans and those independents who plan to vote in the primary, including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate, Romney leads with 41%.  Paul is a distant second with 22% followed by Santorum with 13%.  Nine percent of these voters are behind Huntsman, and the same proportion — 9% — rallies for Gingrich.  Just one percent is for Perry, and 5% are undecided.

Key points:

  • A notable proportion of likely primary voters in New Hampshire will be independents — 38%.  Likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire also include 40% who support the Tea Party, 22% who are Evangelical Christians, and 15% who identify themselves as very conservative.  This is in sharp contrast with the Iowa Republican caucus as detailed in the entrance poll of caucus attendees by Edison Research of Somerville, New Jersey.  23% of GOP caucus participants were independents, 64% were Tea Party supporters, 57% of caucus-goers were Evangelical Christians, and 47% said they were very conservative.
  • When looking at just Republicans who are likely to vote in the GOP primary, Romney is ahead by 28 percentage points.  Romney has 46% followed by Paul with 18% and Santorum with 14%.  Romney’s lead, however, narrows among independents.  Here, 35% are for Romney while 28% support Paul.  Huntsman receives 13% of the independent vote while Santorum takes 12%.
  • Among likely Republican primary voters who support the Tea Party, the race tightens.  35% back Romney compared with 25% for Paul.  20% of these voters rally for Santorum, and 12%  back Gingrich.  However, among those who strongly back the Tea Party, Romney falls to third place.  Santorum leads with 31% of this voting group.  Paul garners 26% while Romney has the backing of 22%.  The difference in New Hampshire is this group makes up only 12% of likely Republican primary voters compared with 34% of Iowa caucus-goers.
  • Romney has plurality support among likely Republican primary voters who identify as liberal or moderate – 46% — and among those who describe themselves as conservative – 41%.  He is neck and neck with Santorum, 30% to 27%, among  those who say they are very conservative.  Paul receives 22% among these voters.
  • Looking at age, Romney leads among those 30 and older.  43% of likely Republican primary voters 30 to 44 years of age, 40% of those 45 to 59 years old, and 44% of those 60 and older support Romney.  However, Paul has the edge among those younger than 30.  Here, 47% back Paul compared with 40% for Romney.
  • 31% of Evangelical Christians are behind Romney while 30% are for Santorum.

Table: 2012 New Hampshire Republican Presidential Primary (NH Likely Voters with Leaners and Absentees)

Table: 2012 New Hampshire Republican Presidential Primary (NH Potential Republican Electorate Including Those who Are Undecided Yet Leaning Toward a Candidate and Absentees)

Six in Ten Strongly Support Choice of Candidate

60% of likely Republican primary voters say they strongly support their choice of candidate while 29% report they are somewhat committed to their pick.  11% think they might change their mind before Tuesday, and only 1% is unsure.

There has been an increase in the proportion of voters who are firmly committed to their choice of candidate.  In NBC News/Marist’s early December survey, only about half of likely Republican primary voters — 49% — said they would not waver in their support.  31% reported they were somewhat behind their pick while 18% believed they might vote differently.  Only 2%, at that time, were unsure.

Key points:

  • About two-thirds of likely Republican primary voters who back Paul – 67% — say they strongly support their candidate while 60% of Romney’s supporters are firmly committed to him.  This compares with nearly six in ten — 57% — of Gingrich’s backers.  The same proportion — 57% — of Huntsman’s backers and a majority of Santorum’s supporters — 52% — say the same.

Table: Intensity of Support (NH Likely Voters)

Little Consensus about Second Choice…Gingrich, Paul Least Liked

When it comes to their second choice, 19% of likely Republican primary voters select Romney, 18% choose Santorum followed by 16% for Gingrich.  Huntsman is the second pick of 13% compared with 11% for Paul.  Perry is the second best candidate for 6%, and 16% are undecided.

Which candidate is the least liked?  More than one in four likely Republican primary voters — 27% — say they like Gingrich least.  23% have a similar view of Paul, and 17% say the same about Perry.  13% of voters believe Romney is the least desirable candidate followed by 7% who have a similar opinion of Huntsman.  Six percent have this attitude toward Santorum, and 6% are undecided.

Table: Second Choice for the Republican Presidential Primary (NH Likely Voters)

Table: Least Liked Candidate for the Republican Presidential Primary (NH Likely Voters)

60% View Romney as Acceptable Candidate…Gingrich’s Acceptability Plummets

Six in ten likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire — 60% — think Romney is an acceptable candidate for the GOP nomination.  23% agree but have reservations while only 16% don’t think he is a good fit for the role.  Just 1% is unsure.  In NBC News/Marist’s previous survey, 63% said Romney was an acceptable choice as the Republican nominee.

Looking at Santorum, 42% say he is an acceptable choice for the top of the GOP ticket while 30% find him to be acceptable but have concerns.  However, one in four — 25% — thinks Santorum is an unacceptable pick, and 3% are unsure.

While 35% believe Paul is a good fit for the Republican nomination, and 21% think he fits the bill but with reservations, there has been an increase in the proportion of voters who believe Paul is an unacceptable candidate for the top of the ticket.  43% currently have this view, and 1% is unsure.  In early December, 38% said Paul was an acceptable choice for the GOP nomination while 31% reported he was an unacceptable selection.

31% think Huntsman is an acceptable choice for the Republican nomination.  30% agree but with reservations, and 33% report he is an unacceptable candidate.  Six percent are unsure.

Fewer likely Republican voters perceive Gingrich to be a proper fit for the top of the ticket.  Only 29% think he is an acceptable choice.  27% approve of him as the candidate but have concerns, and 44% think Gingrich is an unacceptable candidate for the role.  Less than one percent is unsure.  In December, a majority — 54% — reported Gingrich to be an acceptable candidate.  At that time, only 19% thought Gingrich was an unacceptable candidate for the nomination.

Looking at Perry’s acceptability, just 17% say he is an appropriate choice.  26% report he is acceptable but with reservations while a majority — 54% — believes he is not a good fit.  Three percent are unsure.  In NBC News/Marist’s previous survey, 24% thought Perry to be a good choice for the nomination.

Table: Acceptability for Republican Nomination — Romney (NH Likely Voters)

Table: Acceptability for Republican Nomination — Santorum (NH Likely Voters)

Table: Acceptability for Republican Nomination — Paul (NH Likely Voters)

Table: Acceptability for Republican Nomination — Huntsman (NH Likely Voters)

Table: Acceptability for Republican Nomination — Gingrich (NH Likely Voters)

Table: Acceptability for Republican Nomination — Perry (NH Likely Voters)

Issues, Electability Top List of Most Important Candidate Qualities

Three in ten likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire — 30% — are looking for a candidate who is closest to them on the issues while 29% want someone who can defeat President Barack Obama in the general election.  However, 19% think someone who has the experience to govern is the most important quality to consider when selecting a candidate.  The same proportion — 19% — wants a candidate who shares their values.  Two percent are unsure.

In NBC News/Marist’s early December survey, 30% wanted a candidate who was close to them on the issues while 23% preferred a candidate who shared their values.  The same proportion — 23% — thought a candidate who could defeat the president was the key while 22% said experience was the most important quality for a candidate to possess.  Two percent were unsure.

Key points:

  • Among likely Republican primary voters who want a candidate who is closest to them on the issues, 36% are for Paul compared with 32% for Romney.
  • Romney — 59% — does best among likely Republican primary voters who cite electability as the most important factor when choosing a candidate.  Santorum receives 13% of these voters to 12% for Gingrich.
  • Romney — 46% — also has an advantage among those who want a candidate who has the experience to govern.  19% of these voters support Paul, 12% back Huntsman, and 11% are behind Gingrich.
  • Among those who prefer a candidate who shares their values, 28% are for Romney while the same proportion — 28% — backs Santorum.  Paul follows closely behind with 25%.

Table: Most Important Quality in a Republican Presidential Candidate (NH Likely Voters)

Paul, Santorum True Conservatives…Romney Best Match against Obama

Which is more important to likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire?  61% say their priority is a candidate who has the best chance to win the White House while 33% want a candidate who is a true conservative.  Only 6% are unsure.

Romney is the candidate who 65% of likely Republican primary voters think has the best chance to beat Obama come November.  With the exception of Paul who receives 10%, the rest of the GOP field is in single digits.

Nearly three in ten likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire — 28% — believe Paul is the true conservative in the race while 26% have this view of Santorum.  12% think Romney is the real conservative while the same proportion — 12% — has this opinion about Gingrich.  Only 5% describe Huntsman in this manner while the same proportion — 5% — believes Perry deserves this title.  Three percent say none of the candidates are true conservatives, and 7% are undecided.

Table: Which is More Important, a Candidate Who is a True Conservative or One Who Can Beat President Obama? (NH Likely Voters)

Table: Candidate Who Can Beat President Barack Obama (NH Likely Voters)

Table: Candidate Considered True Conservative (NH Likely Voters)

Romney Best Understands Voters’ Problems…Will Improve Washington for the Better

30% of likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire think Romney is the candidate who best understands the problems of people like themselves while 25% say Paul best identifies with voters’ concerns.  15% report Santorum has a grasp of these problems while 10% think Huntsman deserves this description.  Seven percent believe Gingrich best understands the concerns of voters while 1% has the same view of Perry.  Six percent think none of the candidates comprehend the problems people face, and 6% are undecided.

Romney is also perceived by 35% of likely Republican primary voters to be the candidate who will improve Washington for the better while 24% think Paul is the best candidate for this job.  12% believe Santorum will have a positive impact on Washington while 10% say the same about Gingrich.  Huntsman receives 8% to just 1% for Perry.  Five percent say none of the candidates will change Washington for the better, and 5% are undecided.

Table: Candidate Who Best Understands Voters’ Problems (NH Likely Voters)

Table: Candidate Who Will Change Washington for the Better (NH Likely Voters)

Influencing Factors: Debates Impact Voters’ Decisions

What additional factors matter to likely Republican primary voters in deciding their vote?

  • 75% of likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire say the debates at least somewhat helped them decide which candidate to support.
  • More than one-third — 35% — think seeing the candidate in person helped them in making their decision.
  • 30% of likely Republican primary voters report campaign ads have influenced their candidate selection.
  • John McCain recently endorsed Mitt Romney, what impact did McCain’s endorsement have on voters?  28% report his endorsement, at least somewhat, informed their decision.
  • 27% of likely Republican primary voters say the results of the Iowa caucus have helped decide their vote, including 51% of Santorum voters.
  • Only 19% of voters say contact with a candidate’s campaign has helped them choose a candidate.
  • When it comes to the Manchester Union Leader’s endorsement of Newt Gingrich, just 12% say such an act helped them, at least somewhat, decide their vote.

Table: To What Extent Have the Debates Helped in Deciding Your Vote? (NH Likely Voters)

Table: To What Extent Has Seeing the Candidate in Person Helped in Deciding Your Vote? (NH Likely Voters)

Table: To What Extent Have the Campaign Ads Helped in Deciding Your Vote? (NH Likely Voters)

Table: To What Extent Has John McCain’s Endorsement Had in Deciding Your Vote? (NH Likely Voters)

Table: To What Extent Have the Results of the Iowa Caucus Helped in Deciding Your Vote? (NH Likely Voters)

Table: To What Extent Has Contact from a Candidate’s Campaign Helped in Deciding Your Vote? (NH Likely Voters)

Table: To What Extent Has the Manchester Union Leader’s Endorsement of Newt Gingrich Helped in Deciding Your Vote? (NH Likely Voters)

More than Six in Ten Think Mormons are Christians

62% of likely Republican primary voters believe a Mormon is a Christian.  However, 38% think they are not or are unsure.

Key points:

Table: Are Mormons Christians? (NH Likely Voters)

49% Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance

40% of registered voters in New Hampshire approve of the job President Obama is doing in office while almost half — 49% — disapproves, and 10% are unsure.

Little has changed on this question since last month.  40%, at that time, approved of the president’s job performance while 52% disapproved.  Eight percent, then, were unsure.

Table: President Obama Approval Rating in New Hampshire (NH Registered Voters)

NBC News/Marist Poll Methodology

12/30: Romney, Paul Battle for Lead in Iowa…Santorum Surges, Perry in Mix, Gingrich Stumbles

December 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Election 2012, Featured, NBC News/Marist Poll

With just days until the Iowa caucus, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul are in a virtual dead heat.  Romney receives the support of 23% to Paul’s 21%, well within this NBC News/Marist Poll’s margin of error, among likely Republican caucus-goers including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate.  Rick Santorum who was in single digits earlier this month has bounced into the pack along with Rick Perry.  Newt Gingrich, ahead in NBC News/Marist’s early December survey, has seen his support cut by just more than half.

Iowa flag

©istockphoto.com/FreeTransform

Click Here for Complete December 30, 2011 Iowa NBC News/Marist Poll Release

Click Here for Complete December 30, 2011 Iowa NBC News/Marist Poll Tables

Here is how the contest stands among likely Republican caucus-goers including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate and the difference from earlier this month:

  • 23% for Mitt Romney (+4)
  • 21% for Ron Paul (+2)
  • 15% for Rick Santorum (+9)
  • 14% for Rick Perry (+4)
  • 13% for Newt Gingrich (-15)
  • 6% for Michele Bachmann (-1)
  • 2% for Jon Huntsman (No change)
  • 7% are undecided (-2)

“There has been a lot of movement in the past month,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “This is a contest that is very unsettled.”

In NBC News/Marist’s survey in early December, 28% of likely Republican caucus-goers including leaners supported Gingrich followed by Paul and Romney who each received 19%.  Perry garnered 10% of participants’ support while 7% favored Bachmann.  Santorum received 6%, and 2% were for Huntsman.  Nine percent, at the time, were undecided.

Among the larger pool of potential Republican caucus-goers including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate, 23% back Romney compared with 20% for Paul.  Perry receives the support of 14% as does Gingrich.  12% are behind Santorum while 5% rally for Bachmann and 2% support Huntsman.  10% are undecided.

Key points:

  • Among likely Republican caucus-goers who are conservative or very conservative including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate, 21% are for Romney  compared with 18% for Santorum and the same proportion — 18% — for Paul.
  • Paul — 28% — and Romney — 27% — vie for the lead among those who are liberal or moderate.
  • Looking at Tea Party supporters overall, Santorum receives 20% compared with 17% for Romney and the same proportion — 17% — for Paul.  Gingrich garners 16% of these participants.  However, among those who are strong supporters of the Tea Party, Gingrich and Santorum each receive 22%.
  • Among likely Republican caucus-goers who do not support the Tea Party, Romney — 27% — edges Paul — 24%.
  • Nearly one in four likely Republican caucus-goers who are Evangelical Christians – 24% – back Santorum.  This compares with 21% for Perry.
  • Looking at age, 38% of likely Republican caucus-goers under 30 years old and 22% of those 30 to 44 years old back Paul.  Among those 45 to 59 years old, it’s Romney with 23% and Santorum and Paul who each receive 19%.  Romney — 29% — does the best among those who are 60 and older.

Table: 2012 Iowa Republican Presidential Caucus (IA Likely Caucus-Goers Including Leaners)

Table: 2012 Iowa Republican Presidential Caucus (IA Potential Republican Electorate Including Leaners)

Majority Firmly Committed to Candidate, but Many Remain Uncertain

With the clock ticking down to the caucus, only 53% of likely Republican caucus-goers report they strongly support their choice of candidate.  33% say they are somewhat committed to their pick, and 13% think they might vote differently on Tuesday.  Only 2% are unsure.

There has been an increase in the proportion of voters who say they will not waver in their support.  When NBC News/Marist last reported this question in early December, 40% said they were firmly behind their choice.  The same proportion — 40% — was somewhat committed to their candidate while 19% said they could change their mind.  Only 1%, at that time, was unsure.

Key points:

  • Nearly six in ten likely Republican caucus-goers who support Santorum – 59% — are firmly committed to him.  This compares with 54% of Paul’s backers, 52% of those who rally for Perry, and 51% of those who are behind Romney.  46% of Gingrich’s supporters express a similar level of support.

Table: Intensity of Support (IA Likely Caucus-Goers)

Romney, Perry Top List as Second Choice

When it comes to the second choice of likely Republican caucus-goers who have a candidate preference, 21% pick Romney while Perry is the second selection of 20%.  Santorum receives 15% followed by Gingrich with 13%.  Bachmann is next with 11% followed closely by Paul with 9%.  Huntsman is the second pick of 3%, and 8% are undecided.

Key points:

  • Romney is the second choice of 38% of Gingrich’s backers, 34% of Paul’s supporters, and 25% of those behind Perry.
  • Perry — 35% — is the second choice of those who support Santorum.
  • Among those who back Romney, there is little consensus.  20% pick Gingrich as their second choice, 19% select Santorum, and 18% choose Perry.

Table: Second Choice for the Republican Presidential Caucus (IA Likely Caucus-Goers)

Santorum, Paul Considered to be True Conservatives, but Gingrich Perceived to Be Best Debate Match for Obama

When it comes to the candidate who is the true conservative in the race, 23% of likely Republican caucus-goers believe Santorum deserves that title followed closely by Paul with 21%.  16% say Bachmann is the true conservative while 11% have this view of Perry.  Seven percent believe Romney is the real conservative, and 6% say the same about Gingrich.  Only 2% categorize Huntsman in this way.  Four percent say none of the candidates deserve this title, and 9% are undecided.

However, when it comes to the best debater against President Barack Obama, 37% believe Gingrich is the best opponent.  Here, Romney follows with 26%.  13% think Paul can best debate the president compared with 7% for Perry.  Four percent think Bachmann is the best debate match against the president compared with 3% who have this view of Santorum.  Just 1% gives Huntsman top debate honors while 2% believe none of the candidates can adequately take on the president in a debate.  Seven percent are undecided.

Which is more important to likely Republican caucus-goers?  A majority — 54% — want a Republican nominee who is a true conservative while 39% prefer one who can best battle it out with Obama in the debates.  Seven percent are unsure.

Table: Candidate Considered True Conservative (IA Likely Caucus-Goers)

Table: Candidate who Can Best Debate President Barack Obama (IA Likely Caucus-Goers)

Table: Which is More Important, a Candidate who is a True Conservative or One Who Can Best Debate President Obama? (IA Likely Caucus-Goers)

Romney, Santorum Considered Acceptable Candidates…Loss of Confidence in Gingrich

Half of likely Republican caucus-goers — 50% — think Romney is an acceptable candidate for the GOP nomination.  27% share this view but have reservations while 21% say he is an unacceptable choice.  Three percent are unsure.  In NBC News/Marist’s previous survey in Iowa, fewer than half — 46% — thought Romney fit the bill.

When looking at Santorum’s acceptability, 49% believe he is a good fit for the role while 22% report he will do, but they have some concerns.  The same proportion — 22% — says Santorum is an unacceptable pick, and 7% are unsure.

When it comes to Perry, there has been a slight increase in the proportion of likely Republican caucus-goers who believe he is an acceptable choice for the nomination.  44% have this view while 29% say the same but with concerns.  24% think Perry is not a good match for the role, and 4% are unsure.  Perry was perceived to be an acceptable choice by 38% in NBC News/Marist’s previous survey in Iowa.

Likely Republican caucus-goers are more uncertain about Bachmann’s acceptability.  Here, 37% say Bachmann is a good fit for the nomination while 25% agree but have hesitations.  34%, however, think Bachmann is an unacceptable choice, and 3% are unsure.

Looking at Paul, 35% believe he is a good fit for the role while 21% agree but with reservations.  41% say he is an unacceptable pick, and 3% are unsure.  Earlier this month, 38% of likely Republican caucus-goers thought Paul was a good match for the GOP nomination.

Gingrich has slipped from grace in the eyes of likely Republican caucus-goers.  35% think Gingrich is a good fit for the nomination.  28% report he is acceptable for the role, but they have some reservations.  35%, however, say he is an unacceptable choice, and 3% are unsure.  Earlier this month, Gingrich was the only candidate in the GOP field perceived by a majority of likely Republican caucus-goers — 54% — to be a good fit for the nomination with only 16% describing him as not acceptable.

Table: Acceptability for Republican Nomination — Romney (IA Likely Caucus-Goers)

Table: Acceptability for Republican Nomination — Santorum (IA Likely Caucus-Goers)

Table: Acceptability for Republican Nomination — Perry (IA Likely Caucus-Goers)

Table: Acceptability for Republican Nomination — Bachmann (IA Likely Caucus-Goers)

Table: Acceptability for Republican Nomination — Paul (IA Likely Caucus-Goers)

Table: Acceptability for Republican Nomination — Gingrich (IA Likely Caucus-Goers)

Shared Values Tops List of Participants’ Priorities

What matters most to likely Republican caucus-goers?  Three in ten — 30% — want a candidate who shares their values while 28% think electability is the most important factor.  23% prefer a candidate who is closest to them on the issues while 15% want someone with the experience to govern.  Four percent are unsure.

There has been a change on this question.  In NBC News/Marist’s early December survey, more than three in ten likely Republican caucus-goers — 31% — wanted a candidate who was closest to them on the issues while 29% desired someone who shared their values.  Electability was key for 21% of likely Republican caucus-goers, and 16% preferred a candidate with experience.  Two percent, at that time, were unsure.

Key points:

  • Santorum — 25% — has surged among those who want a candidate who shares their values.  Paul receives 21% from this group of participants.
  • Romney — 34% — has the advantage among those who value electability in a candidate.  Gingrich trails behind with 18% of these likely Republican caucus-goers followed by Perry with 16%.
  • Romney also does well among those who want a candidate who has the experience to govern.  Here, 29% back Romney compared with 22% for Paul and 19% for Gingrich.
  • Among those who prefer a candidate who is closest to them on the issues, Paul leads with 34% to 23% for Romney.

Table: Most Important Quality in a Republican Presidential Candidate (IA Likely Caucus-Goers)

Getting to Know the Candidates

The candidates are making their final pitch to caucus-goers in Iowa.  In the last month, 86% of likely Republican caucus-goers report being contacted by at least one of the campaigns.

The proportions of likely Republican caucus-goers who have been contacted by each of the following:

  • 72% Paul campaign
  • 69% Perry campaign
  • 68% Romney campaign
  • 68% Gingrich campaign
  • 62% Bachmann campaign
  • 44% Santorum campaign

Table: Contacted by a Campaign during the Last Month (IA Likely Caucus-Goers)

Table: Contacted by Paul Campaign during the Last Month (IA Likely Caucus-Goers)

Table: Contacted by Perry Campaign during the Last Month (IA Likely Caucus-Goers)

Table: Contacted by Romney Campaign during the Last Month (IA Likely Caucus-Goers)

Table: Contacted by Gingrich Campaign during the Last Month (IA Likely Caucus-Goers)

Table: Contacted by Bachmann Campaign during the Last Month (IA Likely Caucus-Goers)

Table: Contacted by Santorum Campaign during the Last Month (IA Likely Caucus-Goers)

Most in Iowa Do Not Want Palin or Bush to Run

Sarah Palin recently said there is still time for a Republican candidate to enter the race for the GOP nomination.  Do likely Republican caucus-goers want Palin to jump in?  81% do not while 14% do.  Six percent are unsure.

A run by Jeb Bush is only slightly more acceptable.  70% do not want Bush to enter the contest while 17% do.  13% are unsure.

Table: Sarah Palin 2012 Presidential Run (IA Likely Caucus-Goers)

Table: Jeb Bush 2012 Presidential Run (IA Likely Caucus-Goers)

Majority Believes Mormons are Christians

55% of likely Republican caucus-goers in Iowa believe a Mormon is a Christian while 45% think a Mormon is not a Christian, or they are unsure.

Earlier this month, the same proportions shared these views.  A majority of likely Republican caucus-goers — 55% — reported a Mormon was a Christian while 45% thought the opposite or were unsure.

Key points:

  • While Romney — 30% — is ahead among those who think a Mormon is a Christian, Paul — 20% — edges Santorum — 18% — and Perry — 16% — among those who believe a Mormon is not a Christian or are unsure.  Gingrich receives 14% of these participants compared with 13% for Romney.

Table: Are Mormons Christians? (IA Likely Caucus-Goers)

Obama’s Job Approval Rating at 45%

Voters divide about President Obama’s job approval rating.  45% of registered voters in Iowa approve of the job the president is doing in office while 43% disapprove, and 12% are unsure.

Views of the president’s performance in office have flipped.  In NBC News/Marist’s previous survey in Iowa, 43% approved while 46% disapproved.  12%, at the time, were unsure.

Table: President Obama Approval Rating in Iowa (IA Registered Voters)

NBC News/Marist Poll Methodology

12/11: Gingrich Outpaces Romney by 19 Percentage Points in South Carolina

December 11, 2011 by  
Filed under Election 2012, Featured, NBC News/Marist Poll

Newt Gingrich has skyrocketed to the top of the Republican field among likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina.  He currently leads his closest competitor, Mitt Romney, by 19 percentage points.  Romney, who vied for the lead with, then candidate, Herman Cain in October, has lost support.

Click Here for Complete December 11, 2011 South Carolina NBC News/Marist Poll Release

Click Here for Complete December 11, 2011 South Carolina NBC News/Marist Poll Tables

South Carolina state sealHere is how the contest stands among likely Republican primary voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate in South Carolina:

  • 42% for Newt Gingrich
  • 23% for Mitt Romney
  • 9% for Ron Paul
  • 7% for Michele Bachmann
  • 7% for Rick Perry
  • 3% for Jon Huntsman
  • 2% for Rick Santorum
  • 8% are undecided

“The road to Florida goes through South Carolina,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “On the heels of Iowa and New Hampshire, South Carolina will likely again be critical for the next GOP nominee.”

What a difference two months make!  In NBC News/Marist’s October survey in South Carolina, Herman Cain, who has since suspended his campaign, was neck and neck with Mitt Romney.  At that time, 31% of likely Republican primary voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate in South Carolina backed Cain while 28% were for Romney.  One in ten — 10% — supported Perry, 7% rallied for Gingrich, and Paul and Bachmann each received 5%.  Two percent favored Santorum while only 1% backed Huntsman.  10%, in October, were undecided.

Among the current potential Republican electorate including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate, four in ten — 40% — now support Gingrich while 23% back Romney.  Paul garners 9% compared with 7% for Bachmann and the same proportion — 7% — for Perry.  Huntsman has the support of 3% while 2% favor Santorum.  Nine percent are undecided.

Key points:

  • When looking at likely primary voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate, Gingrich leads Romney by 22 percentage points among Republicans and by 14 percentage points among independents.  Paul receives 6% among Republicans but 15% among independents.
  • Gingrich has majority support — 54% — and leads Romney — 15% — among likely Republican primary voters who are very conservative. Gingrich also has the backing of a majority — 51% — of those who support the Tea Party.  Among this group, Romney receives 20%.
  • Among those who are Evangelical Christians, 46% are for Gingrich while one in five — 20% — favors Romney.
  • There are gender and age differences.  Although Gingrich has the lead among both men and women, nearly half of likely Republican primary voters who are men — 46% — support Gingrich compared with 38% of women.  Gingrich does better among those who are older.  Nearly half of likely Republican primary voters who are at least 45 years old — 49% — favor Gingrich while Romney receives the support of 23% of this group.  Among those who are younger, the contest tightens.  28% support Gingrich, 22% are behind Romney, and 16% back Paul.

Table: 2012 South Carolina Republican Presidential Primary (SC Likely Voters with Leaners)

Table: 2012 South Carolina Republican Presidential Primary (SC Potential Republican Electorate Including Leaners)

Plurality Strongly Supports Choice of Candidate

43% of likely Republican primary voters say they are firmly committed to their choice of candidate while 31% report they somewhat support their pick.  23% think they might vote differently.  Only 3% are unsure.

When NBC News/Marist last reported this question in October, 39% of likely Republican primary voters were firmly behind their candidate.  34% were somewhat committed to their choice, and 25% said they might cast their ballot differently.  Two percent, at that time, were unsure.

Key points:

  • Gingrich supporters are more firmly committed to their candidate than are Romney’s backers.  Half of likely Republican primary voters who are behind Gingrich — 50% — report they are unwavering in their support while 34% who back Romney say the same.

Table: Intensity of Support (SC Likely Voters)

Romney Viewed as Second Choice by More than Three in Ten

Likely Republican primary voters who have a candidate preference also shared their second choice.  32% pick Romney while 21% select Gingrich.  Perry is the second choice of 12% while 10% choose Bachmann.  Paul garners 8% compared with 6% for Santorum.  Huntsman is the second pick of 2%, and 9% are undecided.

Key points:

  • A majority of Romney’s supporters — 51% — pick Gingrich as their second choice while the same proportion of Gingrich’s backers – 51% — select Romney.

Table: Second Choice for the Republican Presidential Primary (SC Likely Voters)

Gingrich Leads Romney, Paul in Three-Way Contest…Bests Romney Head-to-Head

What if the contest for the Republican nomination comes down to Gingrich, Romney, and Paul?  In that hypothetical scenario, nearly half of likely Republican primary voters — 48% — are for Gingrich compared with 30% for Romney and 12% for Paul.  Nine percent are undecided.

However, if you take Paul out of the mix, nearly six in ten likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina — 57% — report they support Gingrich compared with 33% for Romney.  10% are undecided.

Table: 2012 South Carolina Republican Presidential Primary Three-Way (SC Likely Voters)

Table: 2012 South Carolina Republican Presidential Primary Two-Way (SC Likely Voters)

Cain Matters in Carolina?

Now that Herman Cain is out of the Republican contest, would his endorsement make a difference?  35% of likely Republican primary voters report they are more likely to vote for a candidate who has Cain’s endorsement while 29% say they are less likely to cast their ballot for such a candidate.  Three in ten — 30% — think it makes no difference to their vote, and 6% are unsure.

Table: Impact of Cain Endorsement (SC Likely Voters)

63% View Gingrich as Acceptable GOP Nominee…Majority Says Same about Romney

More than six in ten likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina — 63% — think Gingrich is a good fit for the GOP nomination.  23% agree but with reservations, and 11% believe he is unacceptable as the top of the ticket.  Three percent are unsure.

Despite Romney’s challenges with the likely Republican primary electorate, a majority of these voters — 53% — say Romney is an acceptable candidate for the nomination.  31% agree but have some concerns, 14% report he is not a good fit, and 2% are unsure.

It is a different story when it comes to Paul, 34% of likely Republican primary voters say he is an unacceptable candidate for the nomination.  Almost three in ten — 29% — believe he is satisfactory, and 32% find him to be acceptable but with hesitation.  Five percent are unsure.

Table: Acceptability for Republican Nomination — Gingrich (SC Likely Voters)

Table: Acceptability for Republican Nomination — Romney (SC Likely Voters)

Table: Acceptability for Republican Nomination — Paul (SC Likely Voters)

Voters Weigh In on Controversial Campaign Issues

91% of likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina think it is unacceptable for a candidate to tolerate Iran building a nuclear weapon.  Six percent say it is acceptable, and 3% are unsure.

When it comes to allowing illegal immigrants to obtain in-state tuition, more than eight in ten — 84% — believe it is not acceptable for a candidate to support such a position, 12% think it is acceptable, and 4% are unsure.

Many likely Republican primary voters — 62% — say it is unacceptable for a candidate to support an individual mandate for health care insurance while 29% don’t find this to be problematic.  Nine percent are unsure.

Likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina divide about the acceptability of a candidate who supports amnesty for some illegal immigrants.  Here, 48% find it unacceptable while 46% believe it is acceptable.  Six percent are unsure.

Table: Acceptability of a Republican Candidate who Tolerates Nuclear Proliferation by Iran (SC Likely Voters)

Table: Acceptability of a Republican Candidate who Allows Illegal Immigrants to Receive In-State Tuition (SC Likely Voters)

Table: Acceptability of a Republican Candidate who Supports an Individual Mandate for Health Care Insurance (SC Likely Voters)

Table: Acceptability of a Republican Candidate who Supports Limited Amnesty for Some Illegal Immigrants (SC Likely Voters)

Shared Values and Issues Key Candidate Qualities

Nearly three in ten likely Republican primary voters — 28% — say a candidate who shares their values is the most important quality for a candidate to possess.  26% want a candidate who has the same positions on the issues while 23% believe experience in a candidate is the key.  21% think it’s most important for a candidate to have the ability to defeat President Barack Obama in the general election, and 3% are unsure.

In NBC News/Marist’s October survey, values topped the list of priorities with 31%.  27% of likely Republican primary voters wanted a candidate who was closest to them on the issues while 20% said experience was the most important quality in a candidate.  A similar proportion — 19% — said electability was their top priority, and 3%, at the time, were unsure.

Key points:

  • Gingrich does best among likely Republican primary voters who think electability is the key.  A majority — 56% — backs Gingrich compared with 25% for Romney.
  • Among those who favor a candidate with experience, 43% support Gingrich while Romney receives 26%.  In October, Romney was ahead among these voters.  35%, at that time, supported Romney followed by Cain with 22%.  Gingrich only garnered 7% among these likely Republican primary voters.
  • Gingrich leads Romney by two-to-one among issues voters.  41% throw their support behind Gingrich compared with 20% for Romney
  • Among those who want a candidate who shares their values, Gingrich receives the support of 34% to 22% for Romney.

Table: Most Important Quality in a Republican Presidential Candidate (SC Likely Voters)

Romney Faces Ideological Clash

Many likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina describe Romney as either a liberal — 11% — or a political moderate — 51%.  Only about one in four — 26% — think he is a conservative.  12% are unsure.

The problem for Romney is only 30% of likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina describe themselves as liberal or moderate, and 70% identify as conservative.

Table: Mitt Romney Ideology (SC Likely Voters)

Voters Divide about the Mormon Faith

Half — 50% — of likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina think a Mormon is a Christian while 50% say a Mormon is not a Christian or are unsure.

Little has changed on this question since October.  At that time, 47% reported a Mormon is a Christian while 53% disagreed or were unsure.

Key points:

Table: Are Mormons Christian? (SC Likely Voters)

Obama Gains Edge over Romney, Close Contest with Gingrich

In a hypothetical general election contest between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, 45% of registered voters in South Carolina support the president while 42% back Romney, and 13% are undecided.

In NBC News/Marist’s October survey, Romney had an advantage against the president.  At that time, 46% of registered voters in South Carolina supported Romney compared with 40% for Obama.  14%, at that time, were undecided.

Gingrich runs competitively against the president.  Here, Obama receives 46% of the South Carolina electorate while Gingrich garners 42%.  12% of voters are undecided.

When matched against Paul, the president has a 10 percentage point lead.  47% of registered voters in South Carolina are for President Obama while 37% are for Paul.  15% are undecided.

In 2008, President Obama lost South Carolina to John McCain by nine percentage points, 45% for Obama and 54% for McCain.

Table: 2012 Hypothetical Presidential Tossup: Obama/Romney (SC Registered Voters)

Table: 2012 Hypothetical Presidential Tossup: Obama/Gingrich (SC Registered Voters)

Table: 2012 Hypothetical Presidential Tossup: Obama/Paul (SC Registered Voters)

48% Disapprove of Obama’s Job Performance

Nearly half of registered voters in South Carolina — 48% — disapprove of the job President Obama is doing in office.  44% approve, and 8% are unsure.

When NBC News/Marist last reported this question in October, a majority — 51% — gave the president low marks while four in ten — 40% — approved, and 9% were unsure.

Table: President Obama Approval Rating in South Carolina (SC Registered Voters)

NBC News/Marist Poll Methodology

 

12/11: Gingrich Soars in Florida

Newt Gingrich, who once received single-digit support in Florida, has climbed to the top of the Republican field.  Gingrich now leads Mitt Romney by 15 percentage points statewide.  Romney, who was in a tight battle with former candidate Herman Cain for the number one position in October, has been dramatically outpaced.

Click Here for Complete December 11, 2011 Florida NBC News/Marist Poll Release

Click Here for Complete December 11, 2011 Florida NBC News/Marist Poll Tables

Florida state flag

©istockphoto.com/mtrommer

Here is how the contest stands among likely Republican primary voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate in Florida:

  • 44% for Newt Gingrich
  • 29% for Mitt Romney
  • 8% for Ron Paul
  • 4% for Rick Perry
  • 3% for Michele Bachmann
  • 3% for Jon Huntsman
  • 2% for Rick Santorum
  • 8% are undecided

“Not only does Gingrich have a double-digit lead, but no one else other than Romney has more than single digits,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “The important question is who will still be an active candidate by the Florida primary at the end of January.”

The Republican contest looked much different in October.  In that NBC News/Marist Poll, 33% of likely Republican primary voters in Florida including those who were undecided yet leaning toward a candidate backed Romney.  A similar proportion — 32% — rallied for Herman Cain who has since suspended his campaign.  Nine percent supported Perry.  Paul and Gingrich each received 6%.  Two percent, at that time, threw their support behind Bachmann while the same proportion — 2% — favored Huntsman.  One percent backed Santorum, and 8%, in October, were undecided.

When looking at the current Florida potential Republican electorate including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate, 41% of these voters back Gingrich while 28% support Romney.  Paul receives the support of 9% while 4% are for Perry, and 4% are for Bachmann.  Huntsman garners 3%, and Santorum is preferred by 1%.  10% are undecided.

Key points:

  • Gingrich receives the backing of 57% of likely Republican primary voters who are Tea Party supporters compared with 22% for Romney.
  • Among those who are very conservative, Gingrich leads Romney, 64% to 17%.
  • Gingrich also outpaces Romney among likely Republican primary voters who are Evangelical Christians.  Here, Gingrich receives the support of nearly half — 49% — compared with 26% for Romney.
  • There are also gender and age differences.  Among men, Gingrich — 48% — leads Romney — 23% — by 25 percentage points.  Paul receives 12%.  Women divide.  38% of women are for Gingrich compared with 35% for Romney.  Gingrich does better among likely Republican primary voters who are older.  Nearly half of those 45 or older — 47% — favor Gingrich while 29% are behind Romney.  Among those who are younger than 45, 34% support Gingrich while 26% rally for Romney.  Paul receives 19% of this age group.

Table: 2012 Florida Republican Presidential Primary (FL Likely Voters with Leaners)

Table: 2012 Florida Republican Presidential Primary (FL Potential Republican Electorate Including Leaners)

Plurality Strongly Supports Choice of Candidate

47% of likely Republican primary voters in Florida are strongly committed to their choice of candidate.  31% somewhat support their pick, and 20% might vote differently.  Two percent are unsure.

Little has changed on this question since NBC News/Marist’s October survey.  At that time, 44% were firmly committed to their choice of candidate.  More than one in four — 27% — were somewhat committed to their pick while the same proportion — 27% — thought they might vote differently come primary day.  Only 2%, then, were unsure.

Key points:

  • Gingrich’s backers — 60% — are more firmly behind their candidate compared with Romney’s supporters — 38%.
  • A majority — 55% — of likely Republican primary voters who support the Tea Party are firmly committed to their choice of candidate.

Table: Intensity of Support (FL Likely Voters)

Second Best: More than Three in Ten Choose Romney

31% of likely Republican primary voters who have a candidate preference say Romney is their second choice.  Nearly one in four — 24% — pick Gingrich while 10% select Bachmann.  Perry is the second choice of 9% while 7% believe Paul is the next best choice.  Santorum receives 6% while 4% think Huntsman is the second best option.  Nine percent are undecided.

Key points:

  • 55% of Romney’s backers select Gingrich as their second choice while 51% of Gingrich’s backers pick Romney.

Table: Second Choice for the Republican Presidential Primary (FL Likely Voters)

Gingrich Bests Romney and Paul in Three-Way Matchup, Leads Romney Head-to-Head

If the Republican contest comes down to Gingrich, Romney, and Paul, 51% of likely Republican primary voters in Florida rally for Gingrich, 31% are behind Romney, and 10% support Paul.  Nine percent are undecided.

If Paul is not in the final field, 54% of likely Republican primary voters in Florida back Gingrich while 36% are for Romney, and 10% are undecided.

Table: 2012 Florida Republican Presidential Primary Three-Way (FL Likely Voters)

Table: 2012 Florida Republican Presidential Primary Two-Way (FL Likely Voters)

Could Cain Endorsement Have Impact in Florida?

Since Herman Cain dropped out of the Republican contest, talk has turned toward which candidate, if any, he will endorse.  But, will his endorsement matter?  While 32% of likely Republican primary voters in Florida say a Cain endorsement makes no difference to their vote, 33% say it makes them more likely to cast their ballot for such a candidate while 29% report it will make them less likely to support a candidate with Cain’s backing.  Six percent are unsure.

Table: Impact of Cain Endorsement (FL Likely Voters)

Gingrich and Romney Deemed Acceptable as GOP Nominee

Almost two-thirds of likely Republican primary voters in Florida — 65% — think Gingrich is an acceptable candidate for the GOP nomination.  20% believe he is a good fit, but they have reservations, and 11% report he is unacceptable for the role.  Four percent are unsure.

Looking at Romney, nearly six in ten — 58% — perceive him to be an acceptable choice for the top of the GOP ticket while 28% think he is suitable, but they have some concerns.  10%, however, believe Romney is an unacceptable option, and 4% are unsure.

However, the narrative changes for Paul and Perry.  37% of likely Republican primary voters say Paul is an unacceptable pick for the Republican nomination while 27% think he is acceptable.  30% report Paul is satisfactory, but they have reservations, and 6% are unsure.

When it comes to Perry, 35% believe he is not a good fit for the top of the GOP ticket while 27% find him to be acceptable.  31% think Perry, overall, is acceptable, but they have concerns, and 7% are unsure.

Table: Acceptability for Republican Nomination — Gingrich (FL Likely Voters)

Table: Acceptability for Republican Nomination — Romney (FL Likely Voters)

Table: Acceptability for Republican Nomination — Paul (FL Likely Voters)

Table: Acceptability for Republican Nomination — Perry (FL Likely Voters)

Talking Controversy: Which Issues are Acceptable?

When it comes to positions on controversial issues, what are likely Republican primary voters in Florida willing to accept in a nominee?

Most — 92% — believe it is not acceptable for the Republican candidate to tolerate Iran building a nuclear weapon while only 5% think it is acceptable.  Three percent are unsure.

Eight in ten likely Republican primary voters — 80% — say it is problematic if the nominee supports allowing illegal immigrants to obtain in-state tuition.  14% do not find this stance to be objectionable, and 6% are unsure.

When it comes to a candidate who supports an individual mandate for health care insurance, 64% say it is not a desirable position while 25% find it acceptable, and 10% are unsure.

However, a majority of likely Republican primary voters in Florida — 53% — thinks it is acceptable for a candidate to support limited amnesty for some illegal immigrants.  41% believe it is unacceptable, and 7% are unsure.

Table: Acceptability of a Republican Candidate who Tolerates Nuclear Proliferation by Iran (FL Likely Voters)

Table: Acceptability of a Republican Candidate who Allows Illegal Immigrants to Receive In-State Tuition (FL Likely Voters)

Table: Acceptability of a Republican Candidate who Supports an Individual Mandate for Health Care Insurance (FL Likely Voters)

Table: Acceptability of a Republican Candidate who Supports Limited Amnesty for Some Illegal Immigrants (FL Likely Voters)

Candidate Qualities That Matter

Nearly three in ten likely Republican primary voters in Florida — 28% — believe it is most important that the Republican nominee have the ability to defeat President Barack Obama in the general election.  26% rate shared values as their top priority while 23% want someone who is closest to them on the issues.  20% believe a candidate with the experience to govern is the most important quality in a candidate, and 4% are unsure.

When NBC News/Marist last reported this question in October, 28% of likely Republican primary voters thought a candidate who was closest to them on the issues was the most important factor in a candidate.  More than one in four — 26% — cited shared values as their priority, 23% said electability was their priority while experience topped the check list for 21%.  Three percent, at that time, were unsure.

Key points:

  • Gingrich fares best among likely Republican primary voters who value experience.  Here, he leads with a majority — 52% — to 29% for Romney.  Romney has lost ground among this group.  In October, a plurality of likely Republican primary voters in Florida who wanted a candidate with experience — 46% — supported Romney.
  • Nearly half of those who rate electability as the most important candidate quality — 47% — favor Gingrich compared with 34% for Romney.
  • Gingrich — 42% — also has the advantage over Romney — 22% — among those who want a candidate who shares their positions on the issues.
  • Although Gingrich retains a lead, the contest tightens among likely Republican primary voters who want a candidate who shares their values.  38% favor Gingrich while 28% are behind Romney.

Table: Most Important Quality in a Republican Presidential Candidate (FL Likely Voters)

Romney Ideology Mismatch for Florida Likely Voters

Looking at the perception of Romney’s ideology, a majority of likely Republican primary voters in Florida — 56% — describes Romney as a moderate, and 10% say he is a liberal.  Only 23% think he is a conservative.  10% are unsure.

Romney’s ideology is not compatible with that of the likely Republican electorate in Florida.  Only 26% of these voters describe themselves as moderate and 4% view themselves as liberal.  70% identify as conservative.

Table: Mitt Romney Ideology (FL Likely Voters)

Majority Says a Mormon is a Christian

57% of likely Republican primary voters in Florida think a Mormon is a Christian while 43% say a Mormon is not a Christian or are unsure.

There has been little change on this question since October.  At that time, almost six in ten likely Republican primary voters — 58% — reported they believed a Mormon is a Christian while 42% said a Mormon is not a Christian or were unsure.

Key points:

  • Gingrich — 45% — is ahead of Romney — 20% — among likely Republican primary voters who report a Mormon is not a Christian or are unsure.  Among those who say a Mormon is a Christian, the race tightens.  42% back Gingrich compared with 35% who support Romney.

Table: Are Mormons Christian? (FL Likely Voters)

Obama Ahead of GOP Challengers…Lead Grows against Romney

Looking at hypothetical matchups for the general election, Romney remains President Obama’s closest competitor.  However, the president has widened his lead over his potential Republican challenger.

Among registered voters in Florida, 48% back the president while 41% support Romney, and 11% are undecided.

In October, voters divided.  45% were for Obama while 43% were behind Romney, and 12% were undecided.

Against Gingrich, the president leads with a majority — 51% — to 39% for Gingrich.  10% are undecided.

President Obama has a 13 percentage point lead against Paul.  In this hypothetical contest, 49% favor the president while 36% rally for Paul.  14% are undecided.

In 2008, President Obama narrowly won Florida with 51% to 48% for John McCain.

Table: 2012 Hypothetical Presidential Tossup: Obama/Romney (FL Registered Voters)

Table: 2012 Hypothetical Presidential Tossup: Obama/Gingrich (FL Registered Voters)

Table: 2012 Hypothetical Presidential Tossup: Obama/Paul (FL Registered Voters)

Voters Divide about Obama’s Job Performance

46% of registered voters in Florida approve of the job President Obama is doing in office while 45% disapprove, and 9% are unsure.

The perception of the president’s job performance has improved in Florida.  In NBC News/Marist’s October survey, nearly half — 49% — disapproved of the president’s job performance while 41% approved, and 10% were unsure.

Table: President Obama Approval Rating in Florida (FL Registered Voters)

NBC News/Marist Poll Methodology

12/9: A Look at the GOP Contest in Iowa and New Hampshire

With time counting down to the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary, are there more twists and turns ahead?

Carl Leubsdorf

Carl Leubsdorf

The Marist Poll’s John Sparks visits with Marist Poll Analyst and syndicated political columnist Carl Leubsdorf who writes a weekly column for The Dallas Morning News about the latest trends in the 2012 campaign for the GOP presidential nomination.

Listen to the interview below.

John Sparks
Carl, it’s less than a month until the Iowa caucuses, and according to the latest Marist Poll there have been some changes. But before we talk about those changes, I’ve got to ask you: Which is more important to a candidate, Iowa or New Hampshire?

Carl Leubsdorf
Well, it depends which candidate, I think, because for certain of the candidates for the group of — that we call the conservatives in this race, they’re all conservative, but basically who have been jockeying all year for position, and I’m talking about Speaker Gingrich, Governor Perry, Representative Bachman, in particular Herman Cain because he’s not there anymore, and to a lesser degree Ron Paul, Iowa is more important because it’s going to establish the pecking order among those people. In effect, we’ve had sort of two primaries going on, the — on one side, the establishment side, we’ve had Romney and the two former governors, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, and on the other side, we’ve had the other candidates. So, among the other candidates, they’re jockeying for position, and Iowa is extremely important because of the nature of the electorate, quite conservative. It’s a caucus system which encourages activists, so… But for Governor Romney, while there’s some importance in Iowa, the key thing for him is to win New Hampshire and win it decisively so that the media does not write: Well he won, but he didn’t meet expectations because he needs to use New Hampshire where he has a summer home and where he spends a lot of time as a board to sort of propel himself into the primaries in South Carolina and Florida.

John Sparks
Well, let’s talk about Iowa first since it comes first. The caucuses are January 3rd, and the latest Marist Poll has Newt Gingrich on top with 26%, followed by Mitt Romney at 18% and Ron Paul at 17%. Now Marist Poll Director Lee Miringoff says, “Hold on tight for further twists and turns.” Carl, do you think we could see more changes between now and January the 3rd?

Carl Leubsdorf
Well, historically there have been a lot of changes in the last six weeks, and one thing I’ve been advising everyone that I’ve talked to and probably have discussed in these interviews previously, is that Iowa tends to firm up in the last month to six weeks. There are a lot of changes near the end, and the way it stands in August or in June probably isn’t going to be the way it’s going to end up, and that, in fact, has happened with the emergence of Speaker Gingrich as the leader there. It’s going to be interesting. I don’t know whether he can maintain it. It’s a shorter period he has to maintain it than some of the others who’ve come up. There’s the question: If he doesn’t maintain it, who would get his votes since just about everyone of his rivals among that group has been up there earlier.

Ron Paul is an interesting and sort of a separate phenomenon. He has a very fervent following, a lot of it young people. He’s got a solid vote, which is I would rate at 10-to-12%. But the latest poll is, not only the Marist Poll but the two others that were taken, show his numbers coming up in Iowa, so he’s clearly a contender for first place.

And the third player near the top of the poll, Governor Romney, has not spent that much time in Iowa. He spent a lot of time four years ago. He definitely has a following. We have to remember that while the Iowa Republican Party and likely caucus attendees are pretty conservative, maybe a quarter to a third of them are more moderate and more establishment, and Romney will do very well there whether he spends a lot of time in Iowa or not. I found interesting in these last polls, and we’ll find out later if it was meaningful, Romney’s numbers appear to have come down in Iowa for no particular reason, and this is the phenomenon we saw four years ago that the more he campaigned in a place, the less well he did, and people forget that at one point he was the leader in both Iowa and New Hampshire four years ago, and he ended up winning neither. So, whether we’re seeing that phenomenon in the fact that he’s dropped from the mid 20s into the upper teens (inaudible) polling caucuses is very difficult and finding likely attendees.

Listen to Part 1 of the Interview:


Podcast Powered By Podbean

John Sparks
You know, Carl, second choices might tell us something because Herman Cain was still in the race when the Marist Poll was taken, and 28% of Cain’s supporters said that Gingrich was their second choice, followed by Paul and Romney with each 19%.

Carl Leubsdorf
Well, I think the general assumption has been that Cain’s vote is… more of it will go to Gingrich than to anyone else. They’re both from Georgia. They both had some affinity on the issues. They’re quite…  There are a few suggestions that Cain will in fact endorse Gingrich fairly soon, so that’s not surprising. In a way, the thing that Romney most fears is the consolidation of the conservative vote behind one candidate early in the game. Romney was counting on the fact that the conservative vote would stay very divided, and, in fact, in a very divided conservative vote, Romney with say 25% might win the Iowa caucuses. But if the vote begins to consolidate in Iowa behind one person, then, at the moment that appears to be Gingrich, that’s a problem for a candidate like Romney who has shown great difficulty in getting above about a quarter of the vote everywhere except in New Hampshire.

John Sparks

The Marist Poll showed that among caucus goers who consider themselves Tea Party or conservative and Evangelical Christians, Gingrich gets 35% compared to only 11% for Romney.

Carl Leubsdorf
Well, that’s not Romney’s electorate, but the… I didn’t notice what percentage in your poll was people who consider themselves conservatives as opposed to moderate or however it’s described in the poll, and maybe it wasn’t asked. But I said, the assumption has been about two-thirds of the caucus electorate or maybe a little more would be Tea Party people, Right-To-Lifers, Christian conservatives, the various factions that make up the right side of the Republican Party, and that is not a group that where Romney is going to do very well.

Listen to Part 2:


Podcast Powered By Podbean

John Sparks
You know, I think it’s always interesting, polling people and asking them why they vote like they do, and in Iowa, three in ten that are likely to be caucus goers tell us they want a candidate who is closest to them on issues – 29% say the candidate who shares their values is a key, and that’s flip-flopped a month ago. Any significance to this that now there’s…

Carl Leubsdorf
Well, I think it seems to be fewer of them are saying that the first choice would be someone they think that can win, and actually we’ve seen in the some of the polls lately, more people think that Gingrich can win than think Romney can win. Romney has not… Romney has run this very buttoned up campaign where he tries to avoid the other candidates, where he behaves like the front-runner, where he straddles the issues and tries to say as little as possible, and when you combine that with his bland personality and the fact that he doesn’t have much of a persona, I think it’s hurt him, and I think it’s, you know, Gingrich has emerged as a more dynamic candidate, as a candidate who could get in Obama’s face. I mean, the thing that Republicans want most is to beat President Obama. They want a candidate who will stick it to him in the debates and who will be outspoken, and I think they see Romney is not able to do that. So, in the other candidates, and I say Gingrich is the favorite of the moment, they see ones who both agree with them and can be aggressive against Obama.

John Sparks
It’s interesting that you mention the general election. When Iowans turn to the general election, Obama ties Ron Paul, but he defeats Gingrich in Iowa 47% to 37% and he defeats Romney 46% to 39%.

Carl Leubsdorf
That’s interesting. That’s especially interesting because Iowans have been subjected to a steady barrage of anti-Obama rhetoric. The president’s been there a couple of times, but since there is no Democratic primary, most of the — most of what’s coming out in politics is Republicans, and most of what they’re doing is attacking Obama, and for Obama’s numbers to hold up that well is probably a good sign for him from the Fall that I think it’s the calculation of the Obama campaign at this point that in a relatively close election where they have a reasonable chance to win, Iowa would be one of those states that the president would be able to carry. It’s considered one of the states definitely in play. It was carried by, I guess, by Bush in ’04 and by Obama in ’08, but that is not a great sign for the Republicans, and there’s some sense, and there’s a new Pew Poll on this too, that what’s going on in the Republican Party has actually hurt the party somewhat. Whether that will have a long-term affect, we don’t know.

Listen to Part 3:


Podcast Powered By Podbean

John Sparks
Carl, organization has always been an important factor in the campaign.  Is it still an important factor, especially in Iowa?

Carl Leubsdorf
Well, it’s important in Iowa because in order to vote, you have to go to a caucus in your precinct, and there are 2,400 precincts in Iowa, and the weather in January when this takes place is often not very good, and traditionally, the way you won in Iowa is you set up a structure in every county, you said the 99 counties and then a lot of the towns, to get people out to the caucuses. I think that’s going to be less of a factor. If it is a big factor, Speaker Gingrich will be in big trouble because he doesn’t have much of an organization there. Ron Paul’s got a perfect organization out there supposedly, and Mitt Romney has one because he had one four years ago. But, this campaign has really been fought out in the televised debates. That’s what’s really driven the race and have gotten the most attention, and the flubs of the various candidates like Governor Perry’s problem, naming the third department he would get rid of or outside issues like the problem Mr. Cain had with various women have really driven the narrative of this campaign, and television advertising’s about to start really full scale in Iowa, but I don’t think that’s the major factor either. I would guess organization will be less important. But if we wake up on caucus morning and Newt Gingrich is in fourth place, then we’ll know organization was more important than we think it is, but I think it’s been reduced a lot.  Another factor on the organization side is there’s a difference between the Democratic caucuses and the Republican caucuses in Iowa.  In the Democratic caucuses, they have a system where if you get — if someone has less than 15%, their support doesn’t count. The caucuses are precinct caucuses. They elect delegates to the county conventions, which eventually this will get to a state convention. In the Democrats, they all line up for the different candidates in different corners of the room. Anyone who’s got under 15%, his candidate is out, and those people can go join one of the other groups, and you really need organization to do that. The Republicans have a straight vote. It’s like a straw poll. When they arrive at the caucus, they vote for one of the candidates, and that’s how the delegates are allocated to the county then. That’s much easier. It’s more like a regular election than a primary than like a caucus, and if they don’t want to stay for the discussion of the issues and all that, they can go back home as soon as they vote. The Democrats, you got to stay awhile. So, it’s another factor that reduces the importance of organization in this election.

Listen to Part 4:


Podcast Powered By Podbean

John Sparks
Let’s go from Iowa to New Hampshire. The New Hampshire primary comes a week after the Iowa caucuses, and the latest Marist Poll shows that in New Hampshire, Mitt Romney is in the lead 39% to 23% over Gingrich, but that lead has been cut in half since last month’s Marist Poll in New Hampshire. Any significance there?

Carl Leubsdorf

Yeah, I think a couple of interesting things there. One, Romney has steadily been… I think most of the fact that it’s been cut in half is probably because Gingrich has gained and less that Romney has been consistently in most polls in the neighborhood of 40%. And the fact is, if he gets 40% in the primaries, he’s almost certainly going to win. One thing… the biggest caution on New Hampshire is that the day after the Iowa caucuses, all the numbers you’ve seen so far in New Hampshire will be worthless because the numbers will change according to what happens in Iowa. It happens every year, you see a real change, and the fact that the primaries are only — and the caucus in Iowa and the primary is in New Hampshire are only week apart means that there can be a big affect of what happens in Iowa. What that means is that the winner in Iowa will get a boost in New Hampshire. Now, if it’s Gingrich, and he’s already surpassed 20%, that could put him up near the 30% level. And, unless Romney comes out of Iowa with a feeling well he did okay considering he didn’t campaign much there, his numbers might come down a little bit. Now if Romney’s numbers come down a little bit, that votes probably not going to go to Gingrich, it’s probably going to go to Jon Huntsman who is the former Governor of Utah, has concentrated in New Hampshire, and although his record is equally as conservative as the other candidates, his more moderate manner and the fact that he’s not spent all of his time bashing President Obama gives him an appeal to the independents.  Remember in New Hampshire, independents can vote in the primary, and with no Democratic primary, we expect a lot of independents to vote there. Not all independents are moderate to liberal to be sure, but I think there are more of those than arch conservatives. So, what you’ll see in… Now if Romney comes in to say a strong second in Iowa, his numbers will hold up very well, but if comes in a weak third, he may suffer some erosion there, and certainly the winner in Iowa will get a bump up, so you’ll see a change there by the Thursday or Friday of that week, and it’ll determine whether anyone actually has a chance of beating Romney. The great fear I think from the Romney point of view is that he survives to win, but he wins so narrowly that it does not give him a boost for the later primaries. As I said before, New Hampshire is extremely important to Romney. He was governor of a neighboring state. He has a summer home there. He’s spent a lot of time there. He really needs to have a strong victory there, or he’s going to have real problems when the race moves south.

John Sparks
Interesting that you mention the independent voters in New Hampshire. Romney leads Gingrich by 12 points among Republicans in New Hampshire, but when it comes to independents, his lead opens up to 21 points over Gingrich.

Carl Leubsdorf
Well that’s exactly right because the two candidates who the independents are most likely to vote for or like more than will vote for are Romney, considered the moderate in this race. Remember, he’s taken all these conservative positions, but a lot of people don’t believe he really believes them, including a lot of conservatives, so he will get a lot of that independent vote, but if he falls or has seen trouble, it’ll go to Huntsman I think.

Listen to Part 5:


Podcast Powered By Podbean

John Sparks
According to Marist, the New Hampshire voters are firmly committed to their candidate – 49% say they’re strongly committed while 31% report they’re somewhat committed, whatever that means, but that may tell us something…

Carl Leubsdorf
That’s more than in Iowa is and…  that’s more than in Iowa that it’s… they’re less committed, I think.

John Sparks
Correct, but I wondering if this might tell us something about what the general election might be like in New Hampshire. There’s something that’s interesting about New Hampshire.  Marist has President Obama losing to Romney in New Hampshire by only three points, 46/43, but they have the president defeating Ron Paul by only two points, and they have the president defeating Gingrich by ten points and yet…

Carl Leubsdorf
I think…

John Sparks
I was going to say – and yet a majority of New Hampshire voters, 52%, say they don’t approve of Obama’s performance.

Carl Leubsdorf
Well, I think if you compare the two states, Obama has much less chance of carrying New Hampshire than Iowa, especially if his opponent is Romney who is — we said is well known there and has ties there. He is not popular in New Hampshire. All the polls have shown that consistently. He’ll have a difficult time carrying New Hampshire. I would bet if you could get an Obama person to say what was the map that they would have assuming that they barely got over the 270 mark needed for an electoral vote, what’s on that map? I would guess that Iowa would be on it and New Hampshire would not.

John Sparks
Probably so.

Carl Leubsdorf
One of the interesting things in New Hampshire that I should mention is the influence of the Union Leader newspaper. For years, the Union Leader, which is the only statewide paper in New Hampshire, has played an outsized role in New Hampshire Republican politics. It’s… the person that has supported hasn’t always won, but a recent study showed that, I think by Nate Silver of the New York Times, was that the endorsement of the Union Leader is definitely worth a number of points.  That candidates who were endorsed by the Union Leader gained strength afterwards. A couple weeks ago they endorsed Speaker Gingrich as their candidate. That’s undoubtedly one of the factors in his rise to 23% in the Marist Poll, and it will be a factor because when the Union Leader endorses someone, they don’t just write one editorial and then go back to their knitting.  There will be more front page editorials in the Union Leader, and not only will they spend some time supporting Gingrich, but they will be beating up on the candidates they don’t want, and number one on that list is Mitt Romney. So, that is going to part of the dynamic here. It will help whoever emerges from Iowa as the leader of that conservative group, and, at the moment, it looks like it will be Speaker Gingrich.

John Sparks
Carl, I’ve got to ask you with everything that’s going on in my business, people are not reading newspapers as much, so does the Union Leader still have the influence it once had?

Carl Leubsdorf
Well, you know it’s interesting in New Hampshire.  It’s the closest thing to a statewide newspaper. Television, there’s only really one major television station in New Hampshire, WMUR in Manchester. Now, of course, they get news on cable, and they get a lot of Boston TV in New Hampshire, but New Hampshire outlets — New Hampshire has an interesting group of newspapers. I know a fair amount about it because my son, Ben, works for the Concord Monitor. There’s a string of local regional papers in New Hampshire, most of them dailies but some weeklies, and which have a fair amount of readership in their local area. The Union Leader has more influence. Manchester is the biggest city in New Hampshire. It has a bigger readership, and also what the Union Leader does gets trumpeted by TV. It’s always a big thing. What some of the smaller papers do doesn’t get as much as publicity.  So, I think it’s less than it once was, but all signs are it does have influence and especially on the Republican side.

John Sparks
Carl, it’s always interesting to talk presidential politics with you. We’re getting to that time when the rubber meets the road, and I look forward to visiting with you again real soon.

Listen to Part 6:


Podcast Powered By Podbean

11/16: Obama Runs Neck and Neck with Gingrich, Romney

November 16, 2011 by  
Filed under Election 2012, Featured, McClatchy-Marist

Looking at the president’s re-election chances, nearly half of registered voters nationally — 48% — report they definitely plan to vote against Mr. Obama while 38% say they plan to support him.  14% are unsure.  Little has changed on this question since McClatchy-Marist last reported it in September.  At that time, 49% said they would not vote for the president while 36% thought they would.  15%, at the time, were unsure.

Election countdown

©istockphoto.com/MCCAIG

Click Here for Complete November 16, 2011 USA McClatchy-Marist Poll Release and Tables

“All signs point to a hotly contested election next fall,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “What’s especially interesting in these numbers is that President Obama scores higher against his potential opponents than his approval rating or those who say they will definitely vote for him.”

When up against potential opponents vying for the Republican nomination, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney pose the greatest challenge to President Obama.

  • Obama and Gingrich are in a virtual dead heat.  47% of registered voters nationally back the president while 45% support Gingrich.  Eight percent are undecided.

o   By party, Gingrich — 47% — has a slight advantage over President Obama — 41% — among independent voters.  Not surprisingly, most Democratic voters — 88% — favor the president while most Republicans – 84% — back Gingrich.

  • When up against Mitt Romney, 48% support President Obama compared with 44% for Romney.  Eight percent are undecided.  In McClatchy-Marist’s September survey, 46% backed Obama while 44% were for Romney.  10%, then, were undecided.

o   A majority of independent voters – 55% — back Romney while 39% support Obama.  Eight in ten Republican voters — 80% — are for Romney while 85% of Democratic voters are behind Obama.

  • The president has an eight percentage point lead against Ron Paul.  In this matchup, nearly half — 49% — say they plan to vote for the president while 41% believe they will cast their ballot for Paul.  One in ten — 10% — is undecided.

o   Independent voters divide.  44% support the president while 42% back Paul.  Not surprisingly, most Democrats — 89% — rally for Obama while nearly eight in ten Republicans — 78% — are for Paul.

  • Against Herman Cain, President Obama has a 10 percentage point lead.  In this contest, nearly half of registered voters nationally — 49% — say Obama is their choice while 39% are for Cain.  11% are undecided.

o   While support divides along party lines, Obama has the advantage among independent voters — 48% are for Obama compared with 38% for Cain.  Among Democrats, 87% plan to vote for the president while 80% of Republican voters say they will cast their ballot for Cain.

  • When head-to-head with Rick Perry, a slim majority of voters — 51% — are for Obama while 40% support Perry, an 11 percentage point lead for the president.  Nine percent are undecided.
  • Obama’s advantage widens over Michele Bachmann.  In this contest, he outpaces Bachmann by 19 percentage points.  Obama receives the support of a majority — 54% — to 35% for Bachmann.  11% are undecided.

Table: Definitely Plan to Vote For or Against President Obama in 2012

Table: Definitely Plan to Vote For or Against President Obama in 2012 (Over Time)

Table: 2012 Hypothetical Presidential Tossup: Obama/Gingrich

Table: 2012 Hypothetical Presidential Tossup: Obama/Romney

Table: 2012 Hypothetical Presidential Tossup: Obama/Romney (Over Time)

Table: 2012 Hypothetical Presidential Tossup: Obama/Paul

Table: 2012 Hypothetical Presidential Tossup: Obama/Cain

Table: 2012 Hypothetical Presidential Tossup: Obama/Perry

Table: 2012 Hypothetical Presidential Tossup: Obama/Perry (Over Time)

Table: 2012 Hypothetical Presidential Tossup: Obama/Bachmann

Table: 2012 Hypothetical Presidential Tossup: Obama/Bachmann (Over Time)

Three’s a Crowd for Romney … Obama Widens Lead with Third Party Candidate

If Mitt Romney secures the GOP nomination, a third party candidate would spell trouble.  Whereas Obama and Romney run competitively when head-to-head, Obama widens his lead with an independent candidate in the race.  When Donald Trump enters the mix as an independent candidate, a plurality — 45% — support Obama, 36% back Romney, and 13% are for Trump.  Seven percent are undecided.

If Ron Paul does not receive his party’s nomination and chooses to run on an independent line, 42% are for Obama while 33% are behind Romney.  A notable 19% support Paul, and 6% are undecided.

Table: Hypothetical Three-Way 2012 General Election: Obama/Romney/Trump

Table: Hypothetical Three-Way 2012 General Election: Obama/Romney/Paul

Slight Bounce in Obama’s Approval Rating … Voters Remain Down on Handling of Economy

President Obama’s approval rating has edged up slightly.  43% of registered voters nationally currently approve of the job the president is doing in office while half — 50% — disapprove, and 7% are unsure.

When McClatchy-Marist last reported this question in September, the president’s approval rating was at its all-time low of 39%.  At that time, 52% disapproved of Mr. Obama’s performance in office while 9% were unsure.

However, there has been little change on how voters view the president’s handling of the economy and foreign policy.

Nearly six in ten voters — 59% — disapprove of the way Mr. Obama is dealing with the economy while 36% approve, and 4% are unsure.  In September, 61% gave the president low marks on the economy while 33% gave him a thumbs-up.  Six percent, at the time, were unsure.

Looking at President Obama’s handling of foreign policy, voters remain divided.  49% approve while 45% disapprove, and 6% are unsure.

When McClatchy-Marist last reported this question in April, 48% disapproved, and 46% approved.  Six percent, then, were unsure.

And, voters remain divided about the president’s favorability.  Nearly half — 49% — have an unfavorable impression of the president while 47% have a favorable one, and 4% are unsure.  Similar proportions of voters shared these views in September.  At that time, 48% had a negative view of the president, 46% had a positive one, and 5% were unsure.

Table: President Obama Approval Rating

Table: President Obama Approval Rating (Over Time)

Trend Graph: President Obama's approval rating.

Click on the graph to enlarge the image.

Table: President Obama’s Handling of the Economy

Table: President Obama’s Handling of the Economy (Over Time)

Trend Graph: President Obama's handling of the economy.

Click on the graph to enlarge the image.

Table: Handling Foreign Policy

Table: Handling Foreign Policy Over Time

Trend Graph: Obama's handling of foreign policy.

Click on the graph to enlarge the image.

Table: President Obama Favorability

Table: President Obama Favorability (Over Time)

Trend Graph: President Obama's favorability.

Click on the graph to enlarge the image.

Americans Remain Pessimistic about the Future of the Nation

When thinking about the direction of the country, seven in ten adults nationally — 70% — think the nation is moving on the wrong path while one in four — 25% — say it is traveling on the right one.  Four percent are unsure.

There has been little change on this question since McClatchy-Marist last reported it in September.  At that time, 73% believed the country was on the wrong track while 22% said it was on the right one.  Five percent, at the time, were unsure.

Table: Right or Wrong Direction of the Country

Table: Right or Wrong Direction of the Country (Over Time)

Trend Graph: Is the country going in the right or wrong direction?

Click on the graph to enlarge the image.

Making Political Waves in 2012? More Think Tea Party will Have Larger Impact than OWS

Which movement do voters think will have the greater influence over the outcome of the 2012 presidential election?  Half of registered voters — 50% — believe the Tea Party will have a larger impact than the Occupy Wall Street movement.  However, about one-third — 33% — say the Occupy Wall Street movement will have more influence.  Five percent say neither will affect the result, and less than 1% thinks both will have an impact.  11% are unsure.

However, there is a split decision on which movement comes closer to voters’ views.  40% say the Tea Party movement better reflects their beliefs while the same proportion — 40% — report Occupy Wall Street does.  10% think neither mirrors their views while less than 1% say both do.  Nine percent are unsure.

How many voters support these two movements?  Looking at the Tea Party, 66% of voters do not back the movement while 25% do.  Nine percent are unsure.

When it comes to the Occupy Wall Street movement, 60% do not support it while 29% do.  11% of registered voters are unsure.

By party:

  • Nearly half of Republican voters — 49% — back the Tea Party movement while 27% of independent voters and just 5% of Democratic voters say the same.
  • Looking at the Occupy Wall Street movement, Democratic voters divide with 43% saying they do back the movement and the same proportion — 43% — saying they do not.  30% of independent voters and 11% of Republican voters support the movement.

Table: Influence on the 2012 Presidential Election

Table: Movement that Comes Closer to Views

Table: Tea Party Supporters

Table: Support for the Occupy Wall Street Movement

McClatchy-Marist Poll Methodology

11/11: Romney Edges GOP Contenders…Gingrich and Cain Battle for Second

November 11, 2011 by  
Filed under Election 2012, Featured, McClatchy-Marist

In this national McClatchy-Marist Poll, Newt Gingrich has joined the top tier of candidates vying for the 2012 Republican nomination for president.

hand casting ballot

©istockphoto.com/ericsphotography

Click Here for Complete November 11, 2011 USA McClatchy-Marist Poll Release and Tables

Among Republican and Republican leaning independents, here is how the contest stands:

  • 23% for Mitt Romney
  • 19% for Newt Gingrich
  • 17% for Herman Cain
  • 10% for Ron Paul
  • 8% for Rick Perry
  • 5% for Michele Bachmann
  • 1% for Jon Huntsman
  • 1% for Rick Santorum
  • 17% are undecided

“The race for the GOP nomination has taken yet another dramatic turn,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “Now, the top tier is crowded as Newt Gingrich has taken his place alongside Mitt Romney and Herman Cain.  Could anyone imagine a more unsettled contest?”

The race is still very fluid.  Only 30% of Republicans and Republican leaning independents are firmly committed to their choice of candidate while 42% somewhat support their pick.  A notable 28% say they might cast their ballot for someone else.

When McClatchy-Marist last reported this question in September, an identical 30% said they strongly supported their candidate while nearly four in ten — 39% — were somewhat in their candidate’s corner, and 31% thought they might change their mind.

Looking at the support of the top tier candidates, 43% of Gingrich’s backers say they are firmly committed to their choice of candidate.  This compares with 31% of Republicans and Republican leaning independents who are behind Cain and 30% of Romney’s supporters who have a similar level of support for their pick.

Table: 2012 Republican Presidential Primary

Table: Intensity of Support

Shared Values, Experience Most Important Candidate Qualities

33% of Republicans and Republican leaning independents think a candidate who shares their values is key when deciding who to support while 27% believe experience is most important.   About one in four Republicans and Republican leaning independents — 23% — say a candidate who is closest to them on the issues passes their litmus test while 13% believe electability is the most important quality a candidate should have.  Four percent are unsure.

There has been little change on this question since September.  At that time, 35% said shared values topped their list while 26% thought experience mattered most.  One in five — 20% — wanted a candidate who was closest to them on the issues, and 17% thought the ability to defeat President Obama was key.  Two percent, then, were unsure.

Key points:

  • 22% of those who believe shared values are key back Romney while 21% support Cain.
  • Among Republicans and Republican leaning independents who think experience matters most, Gingrich receives the backing of 25% compared with 20% for Romney.
  • Looking at Republicans and Republican leaning independents who favor a candidate who is closest to them on the issues, Romney receives the support of 28% while Gingrich takes 21%.
  • Romney garners the support of 26% who want a candidate who can defeat President Barack Obama in next year’s general election, and Gingrich is backed by 23% of these voters.

Table: Most Important Quality in a Republican Presidential Candidate

Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations, About Seven in Ten Want Cain to Stay in Race

What impact are the accusations of sexual harassment having on Cain’s candidacy?  69% of Republicans and Republican leaning independents don’t think Cain should drop out of the race while 22% believe he should.  Nine percent are unsure.

However, Cain’s reputation hasn’t been cleared in the court of public opinion.  While 29% of Republicans and Republican leaning independents believe Cain didn’t do anything wrong, 34% think he did something unethical but not illegal.  And, 11% go as far as to say his actions were against the law.  A notable 26% are unsure.

And, although nearly half — 48% — thinks the sexual harassment accusations lobbed at Cain are mostly being made to ruin his reputation, 28% believe they are based in fact.  24% are unsure.

Table: Should Herman Cain Drop Out of the Race?

Table: Views on Herman Cain’s Actions

Table: Motivation for the Sexual Harassment Accusations against Herman Cain

McClatchy-Marist Poll Methodology

McClatchy News Service article: Poll: Romney retakes lead in GOP race, Gingrich moves to second

« Previous PageNext Page »