The latest poll from liberal-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows that the Republican presidential contest is still very much undecided, with a number of candidates within a few points of each other.
The poll was conducted between June 11 and 14 of 1,129 voters nationwide, including 492 Republican primary voters and 471 Democratic primary voters. The margin of error was +/-2.9 percent for the overall sample, +/-4.4 percent for the Republican sample, and +/-4.5 percent for the Democratic sample. Eighty percent of poll respondents were contacted by phone, and the remaining 20 percent over the internet.
Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) was the top choice of Republicans, winning 17 percent of the vote, followed closely by former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) at 15 percent, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) at 13 percent, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 12 percent, former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) at 11 percent, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) both at 8 percent, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina at 5 percent, and Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) at 4 percent. Nine percent picked another candidate or were undecided.
Out of these contenders, all have officially entered the race, except for Walker, who is expected to throw his hat in the ring in July, and Christie. The critical issue facing the candidates is who will be in the top ten average of national polls and therefore invited to participate in the first debate, under the current version of the rules. With so many candidates running, and polling so close to each other — many within the margin of error — it should be a very interesting summer as the second tier candidates jockey for position.
One challenge several will face as they try to maintain their positions or move up in the polls is favorability ratings. A number of the Republican candidates may be near the ceiling of their potential support because of high negativity ratings, especially for those who have high name recognition; the voters have already made up their minds.
Christie is the most underwater of all the Republicans polled, with only 26 percent of Republican poll respondents having a favorable opinion of him, and 49 percent negative. Donald Trump, who joined the race on Tuesday, is viewed favorably by only 38 percent of the Republicans and unfavorably by 43 percent. Bush is fairly close to Trump’s numbers, with 37 percent favorable and 40 percent unfavorable.
Bush’s numbers were significantly affected by his poor results with conservatives. Only 32 percent of “very conservative” primary voters view Bush favorably, and 51 percent view him negatively.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and former Gov. George Pataki (R-NY) also had negative favorability rankings, with 16 percent favorable and 39 percent unfavorable for Graham, and 10 percent favorable and 30 percent unfavorable for Pataki.
On the flip side, Rubio had the best favorability numbers, with 59 percent of Republicans viewing him positively and only 16 percent negatively. Rubio was also the only candidate — Republican or Democrat — who had a positive favorability rating with the overall poll sample. Thirty-seven percent of voters view Rubio favorably and 36 percent unfavorably.
Among Democrats, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton maintained her substantial lead over the rest of the field, winning 65 percent support from Democrats. The rest of the Democrats were still slogging around in the single digits, with Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) at 9 percent, former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-MD) at 5 percent, former Gov. Lincoln Chafee (D-RI) at 4 percent, and former Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) at 4 percent.
Clinton still has a slim lead over the GOP field. Rubio and Carson were the closest to her, losing by only three points at 46 percent to 43 percent. She is four points ahead of Bush (45 percent to 41 percent), Christie (45 percent to 41 percent), and Walker (46 percent to 42 percent); five points ahead of Huckabee (47 percent to 42 percent); six points ahead of Fiorina (46 percent to 40 percent) and Cruz (48 percent to 42 percent); and seven points ahead of Paul (47 percent to 40 percent).
However, this narrow advantage of Clinton’s could be due at least partially to the sample size. PPP’s sample was 39 percent Democrat, 32 percent Republican, and 29 percent Independent. When asked who they voted for in the 2012 presidential election, 48 percent said Barack Obama, 43 percent Romney and 9 percent someone else/don’t know.
PPP polling has used slanted samples like this repeatedly this election cycle, and usually packages its polls with a press release declaring that Clinton continues to dominate the Republican field. In this latest poll, the skewing of the sample toward Democrats is more than enough to erase Clinton’s lead over all the top Republican contenders.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker.