By Robert Cartmell
Robert Cartmell is a Data Visualization Intern with the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and a junior at Rutgers University.
It is widely speculated that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee for president in 2016, but when it comes to the Republicans, no one is completely sure who will come through the primaries to challenge Hillary in the general election. Three of the most frequently talked about candidates are former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and New Jersey’s own Governor Chris Christie. The three governors all have different strengths, weaknesses, and ideas on key issues, but one way to attempt to identify a frontrunner is to look at their personal ratings. The latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll asked New Jersey voters for their impressions of each of these political figures.
At this stage in the presidential game, these three Republican figures are probably most concerned with how they perform among the GOP base. In New Jersey, 73 percent of Republican voters say they are favorable towards Chris Christie; 50 percent of Republicans say the same about Jeb Bush, and 33 percent say it about Scott Walker. Christie appears to have a clear lead in ratings within his own state, but favorability is only half the story. Christie and Bush both have a notable number of Republican voters who feel unfavorably towards them as well – 20 percent for Christie and 24 percent for Bush. Just 5 percent express this kind of negativity for Scott Walker; while he is shown the least favorability, he also garners the least disdain, probably because he is the least know among New Jerseyans.
As for other partisans in the Garden State, majorities of Democrats (70 percent) and independents (55 percent) are unfavorable towards Christie. Bush fairs better among both of these groups; 51 percent of Democrats and 38 percent of Independents are unfavorable towards him. While Walker has low unfavorable numbers among these groups, at least six in ten Democrats and independents do not know who he is or have no opinion of him.
For the Republicans in 2016, there still appears to be no clear front-runner yet. We will see whether the nominee turns out to be someone who is seen as more favorable, the most unknown at this point, or the candidate who is somewhere in between. Only time – and a whole lot of campaigning – will tell.