Thompson's Official Bid Changes Little in Republican Nomination Race

by Joseph Carroll

His favorable rating is up, but more than 4 in 10 still are not familiar with him

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- A new USAToday/Gallup poll finds little change in Republicans' preferences for their party's 2008 presidential nomination -- former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani continues to lead other Republican candidates. Former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson, who recently formalized his bid for the Republican nomination for president in 2008, follows in second place in the latest polling. Americans' overall opinions of Thompson increased to their highest level this year following his official announcement last week, while Americans' ratings of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney have settled back down after a brief improvement following his win in the GOP Iowa straw poll. Americans' ratings of Giuliani also fell since last month, and are now close to their lowest levels this year. Slightly more Republicans say they are pleased with the selection of candidates in the race than did so earlier this year.

Republican Nomination Ballot

The Sept. 7-8, 2007 poll asked Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who they would be most likely to support for the Republican nomination for president in 2008. Giuliani leads the pack, with 34% of Republicans supporting the former New York City mayor for the nomination. Following next is Thompson at 22%, Arizona Senator John McCain at 15%, and Romney at 10%. No other Republican candidate garners more than 5% of the vote.

Republican Presidential Nomination Preference
(without Newt Gingrich)
Sep. 7-8, 2007

%

Rudy Giuliani

34

Fred Thompson

22

John McCain

15

Mitt Romney

10

Mike Huckabee

5

Sam Brownback

2

Ron Paul

1

Tom Tancredo

1

Chuck Hagel

1

Duncan Hunter

*

 

Other

1

None/no opinion

8

 

* Less than 0.5%

Thompson officially announced his bid for the White House on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, but Thompson's announcement has done little to change the overall structure of the race for the Republican nomination.

Thompson's current level of support (22%) is his highest to date, but it is not significantly better than it has been over the course of the summer.

Following his win in the Iowa straw poll last month, Romney's support increased from 8% in early August to 14% in mid-August. Now, in the latest poll, Republicans' support for Romney dipped to 10%, but this decline falls within the poll's margin of error. Still, there is no evidence in this poll of a continuation of post-Iowa momentum for Romney.

Republicans' support for Giuliani and McCain has not shown much significant change in recent weeks.

Overall, 59% of Republicans say it is "extremely likely" they will vote in the Republican primary or caucus in their state when it is held next year. Among those who are extremely likely to vote in their state's primary or caucus, 33% say they plan to vote for Giuliani, 26% plan to vote for Thompson, 12% for McCain, and 11% for Romney. No other Republican candidate garners double-digit support among this group.

Republican Presidential Nomination Preference
Among Republicans Who Are Extremely Likely
to Vote in the Primary/Caucus in Their State

(without Newt Gingrich)
Sept. 7-8, 2007

%

Rudy Giuliani

33

Fred Thompson

26

John McCain

12

Mitt Romney

11

Mike Huckabee

5

Sam Brownback

3

Ron Paul

1

Tom Tancredo

2

Chuck Hagel

2

Duncan Hunter

*

 

Other

*

None/no opinion

5

 

* Less than 0.5%

The poll also asked Republicans about who they prefer to win the Republican nomination if the race narrows down to Giuliani and Thompson or, alternatively, Giuliani and Romney. A majority of Republicans pick Giuliani in both instances, with Thompson faring better than Romney in the head-to-head match-ups against the former New York City mayor.

By a 53% to 40% margin, Republicans say they would prefer Giuliani to win the nomination rather than Thompson. Thompson's support is six points higher now than in mid-August, but these results are at roughly the same level Gallup measured in June.

Sixty-eight percent of Republicans pick Giuliani rather than Romney to win the nomination next year, while 23% choose Romney over Giuliani. This is the first time Gallup has asked this question. Though only fourth among Republicans on the all-candidate ballot, Romney is the leading fund-raiser and has led statewide polls in the key early states Iowa and New Hampshire.

Republicans are now showing somewhat greater enthusiasm for their choice of candidates running for the Republican nomination now than they did in April. In the current poll, 70% of Republicans say they are pleased with the selection of candidates running for the nomination, while 26% say they wish someone else would get into the race. Earlier this year, 61% said they were pleased with the choice of candidates, while 33% said they wished someone else would enter the race.

Favorability of Republican Hopefuls

Republicans rate Giuliani more positively than any of the other three candidates -- 75% say they have a favorable opinion of Giuliani. Sixty percent of Republicans rate McCain favorably, and 53% rate Thompson favorably. Romney's ratings are the lowest among Republicans, at 45%.

Favorability of Republican Candidates
Among Republicans/Republican Leaners

Sept. 7-8, 2007

Favorable

Unfavorable

No opinion

%

%

%

Rudy Giuliani

75

16

9

John McCain

60

22

19

Fred Thompson

54

13

32

Mitt Romney

45

21

35

Despite his lower favorable rating in absolute terms, the 4 to 1 positive-to-negative ratio for Thompson among Republicans is better than the 3-to-1 ratio for McCain and the 2-to-1 ratio for Romney. Republicans are about five times more likely to view Giuliani favorably than unfavorably.

This is the first time that a majority of Republicans have rated Thompson favorably. As Republicans have become more familiar with Thompson over the course of the year, Republicans' views of him have become generally more positive. His unfavorable ratings have remained quite low, ranging only between 6% and 13% since April.

Among all Americans, Giuliani is rated more favorably than the other leading Republicans. Fifty-three percent of Americans say they have a favorable opinion of Giuliani, compared with ratings of 46% for McCain, 36% for Thompson, and 27% for Romney. More than 4 in 10 Americans do not know enough about Thompson or Romney to rate them.

Favorability of Republican Candidates
Sept. 7-8, 2007

Favorable

Unfavorable

No opinion

%

%

%

Rudy Giuliani

53

30

17

John McCain

46

32

21

Fred Thompson

36

19

45

Mitt Romney

27

28

45

Following his official entry into the race, more Americans are now more familiar with Thompson than at any other point this year. However, 45% of Americans do not know enough about him to rate him. At the same time, Thompson's favorable rating is at its highest point to date. His previous high was 31% in early August. Thompson's ratings have consistently been more positive than negative since Gallup first measured them in April.

Romney's image received a boost last month after he won the Iowa straw poll, but that more positive evaluation has quickly dissipated. After a 33% favorable and 21% unfavorable rating in mid-August, his ratings are now 27% favorable and 28% unfavorable. Aside from that one August poll, Romney's ratings have been about equally positive and negative since the summer.

The public's ratings of Giuliani are also lower now than in mid-August, a drop from 59% to 53%. His current rating is also among the lowest this year; it was only lower once in July, when 52% rated Giuliani favorably and 32% unfavorably.

Americans' views of McCain have improved since early August, when the public was as likely to rate him favorably (41%) as unfavorably (42%). In the latest poll, Americans are much more likely to view McCain favorably than unfavorably, 46% to 32%. Still, his ratings were higher earlier in the year, with a high favorable rating of 57% at several points at the start of the year.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,028 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Sept. 7-8, 2007. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 425 Republicans or Republican leaners, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/28684/Thompsons-Official-Bid-Changes-Little-Republican-Nomination-Race.aspx
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