Not quite field of dreams
Poll: Republicans less satisfied by would-be Obama opponents
WASHINGTON – The more Republicans get to know their potential White House candidates, the less happy they are with their choices.
It’s not that they dislike the individual candidates. They just give them a collective shrug as possible opponents for President Barack Obama. They’d like someone with a little more pizazz.
Some 45 percent now say they’re dissatisfied with the GOP candidates who have declared or are thought to be serious about running, up from 33 percent two months ago, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll. Just 41 percent are satisfied with the likely Republican field, down from 52 percent.
In Indiana, farmer Brent Smith wishes Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour hadn’t backed away. In Georgia, stock clerk Susan Demarest would love to see somebody more like Ronald Reagan. Ohio’s William Johnson just wants somebody who’s not a “cold fish.”
“I don’t expect them to get up there and start doing karaoke, but we need somebody with a little more spunk,” says the Columbus steelworker.
While the Republican roster of candidates is growing almost by the day, satisfaction with the field appears to be shrinking.
The poll was conducted May 5-9 by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. It involved landline and cellphone interviews with 1,001 adults nationwide and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points. The survey included 378 Republicans, and that subset had a larger, 6.9 percentage point margin of error.
Four years ago at this time, there was a clearly different dynamic for the GOP. In late May 2007, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found Republicans generally content with their choices: 68 percent said they were satisfied with “the choice of candidates for the Republican nomination for president,” though that was well below the 79 percent level of satisfaction among Democrats.
Lori Raney, who owns a drapery workroom in Canton, Ga., says she’d be happy to vote for somebody with a level head, but says a lot of voters demand something more.
“Nowadays, people don’t really care about qualifications and common sense,” she says. “They want the celebrity figure to run for president. Republicans just don’t have the celebrity-type figure.”
Smith, the farmer from Zionsville, Ind., sees some good choices in the field and hopes that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gets the nomination. But he confesses, “In truth, I don’t think there’s a Republican out there” who can beat Obama, because of the president’s strong support among minority voting blocs.
Candidate by candidate, Republicans display widely varying impressions of those who are in the GOP race or thinking about joining.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who is viewed favorably by 72 percent of Republicans, has the highest rating of the lot. He’s thinking about running and said Friday he planned a “very important” announcement on his TV show this weekend.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who was the GOP vice presidential nominee in 2008, is viewed favorably by two-thirds of Republicans, as is Romney, who made a strong bid for the presidential nomination last time.
Palin’s support has held steady among Republicans in recent months, but her unfavorable rating among all adults is at a new high of 59 percent.
Romney’s favorability rating among Republicans has improved since March, growing from 59 percent to 66 percent.
The only other major Republican with a favorability rating above 50 percent in the poll was former Speaker Newt Gingrich with 61 percent.
GOP favorability ratings for lesser-known Republicans: former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, 49 percent; Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, 41 percent; former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, 36 percent; former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, 33 percent; Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, 30 percent; former Utah Gov. and Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, 20 percent.
© Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.