Fox News Poll: Republicans give Walker top marks, Democrats put Clinton on top

Just average. That’s how American voters rate the 2016 presidential field.

The latest Fox News poll asks voters to grade a number of potential contenders based on how well they think they would do as president. Comparing letter grades -- like you get in school -- gives a different take than hypothetical voting. And there are some surprises.

First, no candidates included in the survey receive an A average. Not even among their party faithful. And among all voters, no candidate even receives an average B grade.


Next, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is at the head of the class on the Republican side, outpacing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush -- the current frontrunner in most national GOP primary polls.

Grade averages are calculated among just those respondents who are familiar with the candidate.

Bush benefits from high name recognition in primary polling. Despite being less well-known, Walker scores better grades because he has a higher ratio of people who know him giving him good grades.

Self-identified Republicans who are familiar with the candidates give Walker an average grade of B (2.75 GPA), while grading the potential of both retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (2.62) and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (2.48), just a notch lower at B-.

The next tier of candidates all receive a C+ average. That includes former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (2.32), Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (2.28), Jeb Bush (2.27), Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (2.24), Ohio Gov. John Kasich (2.22) and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (2.14).

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie trails with a C average (1.90) among Republicans -- and has the added distinction of having the most Republicans assigning him a failing grade (13 percent).

Walker has the highest number of Republicans giving him an A grade (18 percent), followed by Carson (15 percent), Huckabee (12 percent) and Bush (11 percent).

On the other side, former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton tops the field with a B+ average (3.14) among self-identified Democratic voters. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (2.49) and Vice President Joe Biden (2.45) each receive a B- average from Democrats.

Among all voters, the top grade any candidate receives is a C+ and only three do that well: Carson gets the best grade point average (2.22), followed by Walker (2.09) and Clinton (2.04).

That’s still better than how people feel about President Obama. The poll also asks voters to grade the job he has done and he gets a C average (1.85). Democrats give Obama a B (2.89), while Republicans give him a solid D (0.81).

Fifty-six percent of Republicans give Obama an F for the job he’s doing. Almost as many Republicans give Biden (53 percent) and Clinton (53 percent) an F when asked how these potential candidates would do as president.

Among Republicans, Bush has the highest name recognition -- just four percent don’t know him. Kasich is the least well-known of the GOP field tested, as more than four Republicans in 10 have never heard of him (42 percent).

Among Democrats, Clinton and Biden are almost universally known, while more than a third says they have never heard of Warren (37 percent).

Meanwhile, by a 10-point margin, more Republicans are looking forward to the 2016 campaign than dreading it. That’s the opposite of how they felt about the start of the 2012 campaign in 2011. At that time, they were more likely to say they were dreading the race by 10 points.

The poll finds the same reversal of sentiment among Democrats. They were looking forward to the 2012 campaign by 8 points, while now they say they are dreading the start of the 2016 campaign by 5 points.

Republicans might be looking forward to 2016 because they are more confident about their party’s chances. Fully 78 percent of Republicans think the GOP candidate is going to win the next presidential election, while just 63 percent of Democrats feel that way about their party’s candidate.

The results are almost the same when the hypothetical race is between a generic Republican and Democrat Hillary Clinton: 76 percent of Republicans say their candidate will win, while 67 percent of Democrats think Clinton will prevail.

Overall, by 50-35 percent, voters think a Republican will win in 2016. The race is closer when it’s between a generic GOP candidate and Hillary Clinton: 47 percent of voters say the Republican will win vs. 38 percent Clinton.

The Fox News poll is conducted by telephone with live interviewers under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R). The 1,044 registered voters were reached via landline and cell phone numbers randomly selected for inclusion in this nationwide survey from February 8-10, 2015. The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.