NEW YORK – Perhaps because of the early start to the race, many voters say they hope someone new will join the 2008 presidential contest. And by new they mean new, making it clear they do not want third-party candidate Ralph Nader, former Vice President Al Gore or former Florida Governor Jeb Bush to step into the contest, according to the latest FOX News Poll.
Opinion Dynamics Corp. conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News from February 13 to February 14. The poll has a 3-point error margin.
Half of voters (49 percent) say they are hoping there is someone new out there who they have yet to hear about who will enter the presidential contest. Republicans (53 percent) are a bit more interested than Democrats (46 percent) for someone new to come along.
Overall, one of four voters (26 percent) would like Gore to enter the 2008 presidential race, which is moderately more than want Jeb Bush (16 percent) and Nader to do so (14 percent). Even so, the big picture is clear — majorities are against all three of these potential contenders throwing their hat into the ring.
More Democrats (41 percent) want Gore to join the 2008 contest than Republicans want the president’s brother to run (31 percent).
Even though it’s been over six years, some people still blame Nader for Gore’s loss to George W. Bush in the 2000 election. Today 26 percent of Americans say the votes Nader garnered cost Gore the White House, down from 37 percent in 2004. A large minority of Democrats — 40 percent — continues to hold Nader responsible, down from nearly half previously (49 percent in March 2004).
"Given the closeness of the 2000 race, it is possible to blame virtually anyone or anything for the result," comments Opinion Dynamics Chairman John Gorman. "Since many Democrats never accepted the Florida result anyway, Nader’s 90,000 votes there are a particular thorn."
In the midst of candidate announcements, campaign visits to key states, and fundraisers, Americans are sharply divided on whether they are ready for any of it right now — a full year ahead of the first state presidential primaries. Nearly half say they are ready for the campaigning to start (49 percent), while slightly less say it is "too early" (47 percent).
Democrats (59 percent) are more eager than Republicans (38 percent) for the campaigning to get started.
They might think it is too early, but fully 77 percent of voters say they are following news on the presidential election either very closely (37 percent) or somewhat closely (40 percent).
Looking at some of the candidates more closely, the poll shows former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama currently have the broadest appeal among voters. A clear 59 percent majority says they would at least consider voting for Giuliani and 57 percent for Obama. Both Hillary Clinton and McCain receive 52 percent saying they would definitely or possibly vote for each of them.
Clinton has a slight edge among those saying they will "definitely" vote for her (18 percent), topping Giuliani by 3 percentage points, Obama by 6 points and McCain by 9 points.
On the other hand, among the current front-runners Clinton has the distinction of being the candidate with the highest number saying "under no conditions" would they vote for her. Forty-four percent say there is no way they would vote for Clinton, compared to 40 percent for McCain, 36 percent for Giuliani and 34 percent for Obama.
Majorities say "under no conditions" would they vote for former Speaker Newt Gingrich (64 percent) and Nader (76 percent).
If the presidential election were held today . . .
In a test of a couple matchups, Giuliani outperforms the Democratic candidates — even when a third party candidate is added to the mix.
By 45 percent to 39 percent, Giuliani bests Obama, with 16 percent undecided. Giuliani bests Clinton by a slightly wider margin: 49 percent to 40 percent, with 11 percent undecided.
As of today, if Nader were to enter the race, it looks like he would hurt Giuliani more than Clinton. In that hypothetical race, Giuliani receives 46 percent to Clinton’s 40 percent, with Nader at 5 percent, which means Giuliani’s lead drops from 9 percentage points in the two-way race to a 6 point edge when Nader is included.
Nader has recently stated publicly that he will consider getting into the race later in the year.
The poll also finds that when only Clinton and Obama are considered, Democrats prefer Clinton as their party’s nominee by 17 percentage points today, down from her 22-point edge two months ago (December 2006).
On the Republican primary side, when offered just two choices, Giuliani tops McCain by double-digits (25 points), up from his slim 2-point advantage in December; however, McCain is the clear choice over Gingrich, besting him by 27 percentage points.
Where Do They Stand on the Issues?
Much has been made about Giuliani’s position on abortion rights, with many pundits wondering if Republican voters are aware that he is pro-choice. The poll shows that many voters are unclear where Giuliani stands on the issue.
Overall, 37 percent of voters correctly identify Giuliani as pro-choice on the issue of abortion, 19 percent say pro-life and 44 percent unsure. Among Republicans, 42 percent think he is pro-choice, 21 percent think pro-life and 36 percent don’t know.
Some Republicans are also uncertain on where Sen. McCain stands on the issue: 41 percent correctly say he is pro-life, though 46 percent are unsure.
Voters are most familiar with Sen. Clinton’s views on abortion. All in all, a 62 percent majority of voters believes (correctly) that Clinton is pro-choice, including 63 percent of Democrats.