NEW YORK – More voters say they would be comfortable with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani as president than other top 2008 contenders, though majorities would also be comfortable with other leaders from both parties, according to the latest FOX News Poll. In addition, of all the 2008 hopefuls — announced or frequently mentioned as a possibility — voters want to hear more from one candidate specifically: Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.
Opinion Dynamics Corporation conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News from January 30 to January 31. The poll has a 3-point error margin.
2008 Presidential Primaries
Many Americans are happy that Mass. Sen. John Kerry—the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee— has decided against a second run for the White House. Last week, after making a speech on Iraq on the Senate floor, Kerry announced his plans not to run. A 54 percent majority says they are happy that Kerry bowed out, and 15 percent are disappointed. Among Democrats, 43 percent are happy and 23 percent disappointed; 9 percent of Republicans are sorry that Kerry will not be a candidate.
Even with Kerry out of the race, there is still a fairly crowded field of Democrats vying for their party’s nomination. Hillary Clinton continues to have a sizable lead, receiving the backing of 43 percent of self-identified Democrats, compared with 15 percent for Obama, 12 percent for former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and 11 percent for former Vice President Al Gore. No other candidates reach double-digit support. Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, who made his candidacy official this week, comes in fifth at 4 percent.
"It’s important to recite the mantra that it is too early to tell where voters stand; they don’t really know the candidates and their positions yet," said Opinion Dynamics Chairman John Gorman.
Among self-identified Republicans, Giuliani and Arizona Sen. John McCain continue to lead the pack: 34 percent support Giuliani and 22 percent McCain. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is unannounced but appears to be considering a run, captures the third slot with 15 percent.
Here are some additional findings about the 2008 hopefuls:
• Of all the announced and mentioned candidates out there, more voters say they want to get to know Sen. Obama than any other. One in three voters (30 percent) wants to learn more about Obama — over twice as many as pick Clinton (13 percent) or Giuliani (10 percent).
• It isn’t just Democrats (36 percent) and independents (37 percent) that want to learn more about the senator from Illinois. Among Republicans, 20 percent choose Obama as the candidate they want to hear more from, essentially tying with Giuliani at 19 percent; there’s also double-digit interest in learning more about McCain (11 percent) and Romney (11 percent).
• Giuliani puts the largest number of voters at ease: two-thirds of voters (65 percent) say they would be at least somewhat "comfortable" with Giuliani as president, 58 percent McCain, 56 percent Edwards, 53 percent Clinton, 48 percent Obama and 21 percent Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney. Still, only 8 percent express complete comfort in a Giuliani presidency.
• Among Republicans, 83 would be comfortable with Giuliani in the White House, 75 percent McCain and 30 percent Romney. Among Democrats, 84 percent would be comfortable with Clinton as president, 70 percent Edwards and 60 percent Obama.
• Overall, when looking at just those saying they would be "extremely" comfortable, it is Clinton who tops the list with 12 percent compared to 8 percent for Giuliani, 6 percent McCain, 6 percent Obama, 4 percent Edwards and 1 percent Romney. While Clinton has the highest number saying they are "extremely" comfortable with her in the White House, she also has the most saying they are "not at all" comfortable (33 percent).
• When voters are asked to name which candidate would be toughest on terrorism, Clinton (16 percent) edges Giuliani (15 percent) and McCain (15 percent) for the top spot by just 1 percentage point. Among Democrats, the highest percentage goes to Clinton (31 percent); Republicans split between Giuliani (28 percent) and McCain (24 percent).
Name Recognition and Favorable Ratings
• Clinton is the best known of the candidates tested, regardless of party, with only 5 percent of voters unable to give an opinion of her. At the other end of the spectrum, Romney is mostly unknown to Americans — fully 67 percent are unable to give an opinion or have never heard of him.
• Clinton has a slightly higher favorable rating than the other top Democratic contenders: Half of voters have a favorable view of Clinton, 41 percent view Edwards positively and 41 percent have a favorable opinion of Obama.
• A 54 percent majority views Giuliani favorably, compared to 45 percent for McCain, 22 percent for Gingrich and 11 percent for Romney.
• Giuliani not only has a higher favorable rating than the other Republicans, but he also bests the Democratic candidates. Moreover, Giuliani’s positive rating puts him slightly ahead of a beloved Democrat — former President Bill Clinton (52 percent favorable).
• Two of the possible candidates tested have negative images with the public. More people have a negative opinion (51 percent) of Al Gore than view him positively (39 percent), and more than twice as many have an unfavorable opinion of former Speaker Gingrich (49 percent) as view him favorably (22 percent).
Go Political Junkies!
There’s already considerable interest in the 2008 presidential election: 29 percent of Americans say they are "extremely" interested, (including 33 percent of Democrats and 30 percent of Republicans), and 5 percent say they are "not at all" interested.
For comparison, 12 percent are "extremely" interested in the upcoming Super Bowl game between the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts, and 33 percent "not at all" interested.