She really is a polarising figure, which is why I give her no hope in a general election.
A recent Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey featuring a match-up between Hillary Clinton and Ron Paul highlights one of the perils that comes from overanalyzing poll results between candidates with different levels of name recognition.That last line is a cracker. The 9/11 nutjob, anti-war, isolationist loons that spam every Internet poll in which Paul is a candidate must have to take an even bigger dose of Prozac each night than normal in order to cope with the stress of reality.
In that survey, Clinton held a fairly modest 48% to 38% lead. But, a careful look at the results tells us a lot about the public’s opinion of Hillary Clinton and virtually nothing about their opinion of Ron Paul.
Why? First, because just about everyone in the United States has an opinion of Hillary Clinton. She has been a major player on the national and international stage for 15 years. Half the country has a favorable opinion of her and half holds the opposite view, but all have an opinion. Our most recent survey results show that nearly 60% of voters have a strongly held opinion about the New York Senator and former First Lady.
As for Ron Paul, 42% don’t know enough about him to have an opinion one way or the other. He’s one of 435 Congressman whose life is way below the radar screen for most Americans. Still, his presence in the GOP Presidential Debates has raised his profile a bit--26% now offer a favorable opinion and 32% say the opposite. But, only 16% have a strongly held opinion about Paul (7% Very Favorable, 9% Very Unfavorable).
A look at the crosstabs demonstrates that it is attitudes towards Clinton that are driving the numbers in this polling match-up. Among all voters, Clinton attracts 48% support. Among the voters who have never heard of Ron Paul or don’t know enough to have an opinion, guess what. Clinton attracts the exact same total--48% of the vote. So whether or not people have heard of Ron Paul as the challenger, support for Clinton doesn’t change.
Among the 51% who have heard of Ron Paul but don’t have a Very Favorable opinion of him, Clinton attracts 49% of the vote.
The only noticeable difference to be found is among that very small slice of the electorate that has a Very Favorable opinion of Paul. Seven percent (7%) of the nation’s voters fit this description and they prefer the Texas Congressman over the Democratic frontrunner by a 70% to 27% margin.
So, outside of a small group of avid Ron Paul fans, support for Senator Clinton is unchanged whether or not the survey respondent has ever heard of Ron Paul.
Looking at other recent match-ups confirms the sense that what we’re seeing is primarily a reflection of attitudes about the Democratic frontrunner. In the latest Rasmussen Reports polling, Clinton gets 47% against Fred Thompson, 48% against Mitt Romney, 48% against Mike Huckabee, 44% against Rudy Giuliani, and 44% against John McCain.
If you average the last three polls for Senator Clinton against each of these top five Republican hopefuls, Clinton’s support averages out at 48%. Using this three-poll average, Clinton attracts between 46% and 49% support no matter which Republican candidate is named in the survey.
A separate survey shows that nearly half the nation’s voters will definitely vote against Hillary Clinton if she is on the ballot in 2008. But, five of the top seven candidates for the White House also have more than 40% of the nation committed to voting against them at this time.
Clinton is the clear and dominant frontrunner in the race for the Democratic Presidential Nomination. There is no clear frontrunner for the GOP nomination. Ron Paul has yet to top the 4% level of support in the daily Presidential Tracking Poll.