Republicans Who Are Thinking a Lot About the 2016 Election Love Marco Rubio

And other findings from a wide-ranging new Pew survey.

National Journal
Rebecca Nelson
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Rebecca Nelson
May 20, 2015, 12:09 a.m.

Among older Re­pub­lic­ans and those already pay­ing close at­ten­tion to the 2016 race, Marco Ru­bio’s a hit.

Sev­en in 10 Re­pub­lic­ans or Re­pub­lic­an-lean­ing in­de­pend­ents who have thought “a lot” about the elec­tion hold fa­vor­able views of the GOP pres­id­en­tial con­tender, ac­cord­ing to a new Pew sur­vey. And 75 per­cent of seni­ors—those over 65—rated Ru­bio fa­vor­ably.

But there’s a sharp drop-off for voters who haven’t thought much about the elec­tion: Only 40 per­cent of those Re­pub­lic­ans or Re­pub­lic­an lean­ers hold a fa­vor­able rat­ing of Ru­bio. That could have to do with name re­cog­ni­tion; of those polled who wer­en’t pay­ing close at­ten­tion to the race, 37 per­cent said they couldn’t rate Ru­bio neg­at­ively or fa­vor­ably. It stands to reas­on that people not fol­low­ing along as closely may not have heard much about the Flor­ida sen­at­or, and there­fore haven’t formed opin­ions about him more than a year out from the elec­tion.

Likely primary con­tender Scott Walk­er faces a sim­il­ar gap. Sixty-five per­cent of voters fol­low­ing the race closely say they hold a fa­vor­able view of the Wis­con­sin gov­ernor, while just 36 per­cent of those who haven’t thought as much about the elec­tion say the same. Walk­er also shares the seni­or vot­ing bloc: Only 6 per­cent of those over 65 have an un­fa­vor­able view of the gov­ernor, versus 65 per­cent who rated him fa­vor­ably.

For young­er voters—in this study, those un­der 45—no can­did­ate corners the GOP mar­ket. Roughly the same num­ber view former Flor­ida Gov. Jeb Bush fa­vor­ably as un­fa­vor­ably (45 per­cent to 41 per­cent, re­spect­ively), and former Arkan­sas Gov. Mike Hucka­bee has a 55 per­cent fa­vor­ab­il­ity among that set, only lead­ing Sen. Rand Paul of Ken­tucky by five per­cent­age points.

On the Demo­crat­ic side, the num­bers re­flect the much smal­ler field dom­in­ated by Hil­lary Clin­ton. Nearly 80 per­cent of Demo­crats and Demo­crat-lean­ing voters view the former sec­ret­ary of State fa­vor­ably. But her ap­peal with mil­len­ni­als is not­ably lower, with only 65 per­cent of young mil­len­ni­al Demo­crats—those who couldn’t vote in the 2008 elec­tion—rat­ing her fa­vor­ably. A Na­tion­al Journ­al story from this week un­der­scores that point, il­lus­trat­ing that Clin­ton has less pull among young fem­in­ists.

Hil­lary Clin­ton isn’t the only one fa­cing a tough­er crowd. Bill Clin­ton, thought to be an as­set to his wife’s cam­paign by some and a li­ab­il­ity by oth­ers, has suffered a blow to his fa­vor­ab­il­ity, which has fallen 10 points since 2012, to 58 per­cent—the low­est it’s been since the last time his wife was run­ning for pres­id­ent, in 2008. (A bliss­fully ig­nor­ant 3 per­cent said they had nev­er heard of the former pres­id­ent.)

The poll of 2,002 adults was con­duc­ted May 12-18.

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