Poll: Early look at 2016 shows 5-way race for GOP nomination
April 3rd, 2013
06:00 AM ET
10 years ago

Poll: Early look at 2016 shows 5-way race for GOP nomination

(CNN) - With more than two and a half years to go until the start of the next primary and caucus calendar, there's no front-runner in the battle for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

That's the finding of a new national poll by Quinnipiac University, which also indicates that by a more than two to one margin, GOP voters would prefer a nominee with experience as a governor rather than a senator.

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According to the survey, 19% of Republicans and voters who lean towards the GOP say that if their party's primary for president was held today, they'd back Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, with Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, last year's Republican vice presidential nominee, at 17%, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky at 15%, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 14%, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 10%.

Among the other possible GOP White House hopefuls questioned, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal registered at 3%, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker came in at 2%, and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was the pick of 1% of Republican voters. Nearly one in five surveyed were unsure.

One caveat with such polling so early in a presidential campaign cycle is that they are often heavily influenced by name recognition.

"Three years before the nominating process, the Republicans have no clear favorite," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Sen. Marco Rubio benefits from his exposure giving the GOP response to the State of the Union while Congressman Paul Ryan is known as the Republican vice presidential candidate. But history tells us being the running-mate on a losing ticket does not help one's presidential chances. The last three Republicans in that spot were Sarah Palin, Jack Kemp and Dan Quayle, while the Democrats in that role were John Edwards, Joe Lieberman and Lloyd Bentsen."

While there is no front-runner, Republicans by a 59%-23% margin say they would prefer someone with experience as a governor rather than a senator as their party's nominee.

The poll also looks ahead to the 2014 midterm elections, when the GOP will try and recapture the Senate and the Democrats will attempt to re-take the House of Representatives. According to the survey, 43% of all voters questioned said that if the November 2014 elections were held today, they'd vote for the Democratic candidate in their congressional district, with 35% saying they'd support the Republican candidate. The Democrats need a net-gain of 17 seats to recapture the House.

The survey indicates that Congressional Republicans have a 19%-71% approval/disapproval rating, compared to a 34%-59% rating for Democrats in Congress. And the Democratic party has a 38%-44% favorable/unfavorable rating, compared to a 28%-52% rating for the GOP.

"The Republican brand is essentially in the toilet these days, but it's worth remembering the Democrats faced a similar situation in the late 1980s and got their house in order and returned to power in short order,' added Brown.

According to the poll, more people think the Republican Party can do a better job handling the federal deficit and that the Democratic Party can do a better job handling health care, same-sex marriage and immigration, with voters divided on which party can perform better on the economy, taxes and gun control.

Four in ten said the economy and jobs was the most important issue when it comes to their vote next year for Congress, with one in five listing the budget or budget deficit, another one in five listing health care, 9% saying gun issues and 8% saying taxes.

The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted March 26-April 1, with 1,711 registered voters nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error was plus or minus 2.4 percentage points, with a sampling error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points for questions only of Republicans.

Filed under: 2016
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Ann

    GOP has 5? And Hillary can beat all of them.

    April 3, 2013 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
  2. Marie MD

    I won't even bother commenting on any of those clown losers. Even Christie has heavy baggage, besides himself, that he would need to shed.
    The rest? LOL

    April 3, 2013 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  3. king

    the confusion of the repubs are getting worst ans worst, how the hell they're picking senator Rubi as the front runner, then saying that they would vote for a governor over a senator by two third, when will these folks do anything with logic. 2016, will be Hillary time, the voodoo economics of the repubs of lowering taxes then fight wars are hilarious, the last time bush did this it blew up the budget, and ran factories from small town America to china, because their wasn't any tax investments into the country. the dems want to tax the rich and rebuild our country, this will create millions of jobs for American and the investment that rich folks makes with their taxes will come back to them 2 folds, because when money goes down to the spenders it comes up back to the big boys, this will surely keep big businesses in America.

    April 3, 2013 06:32 am at 6:32 am |
  4. S.B. Stein

    I don't think that any of the 2016 people are reall anyone that I'd think to vote for because they don't really have a clue as to what is going on.

    April 3, 2013 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  5. Name lynn

    Look out people will be watching the polls, to see who will run for president.

    April 3, 2013 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  6. First One

    Which future presidential losing candidate will be at the front of the pack first? Is there a candidate that hasn't threatened to filibuster the gun amendment that 91% of Americans are for?

    April 3, 2013 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  7. Richard Long

    Why is everyone focusing on 2016. We still have 3 more years of obama to live through...

    April 3, 2013 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  8. TomInRochNY

    With four out of ten people saying the economy and jobs are the most important thing what do you think the chances are that Congress will do anything to improve the economy and jobs? Yeah, I don't think they'll do anything either.

    April 3, 2013 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  9. James Bond

    This is why repubs still lie like dogs, people still believe their rhetoeic on finances, quick fact check clearly shows they are in it for the rich only, look where the last republican administration left us, our economy will never be the same, wages took a big hit, and the rich got richer, why do you think they like right to work so much. watched a series on early industrial america, no better way to realize what unions did for our country, they created middle class, and without them it will disappear

    April 3, 2013 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  10. James Bond

    Clearly we need to vote the republican party out of power, they are a direct mouthpiece for the likes of the koch brothers, aldeson, norquist , all of them would like you to pay for our government while they control them

    April 3, 2013 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  11. bigtbone

    Repubs just do not get it. Why paul ryan isn't permanently washing dishes I do not understand.

    No matter the wrapper, the product stinks worse than ever.

    April 3, 2013 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  12. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Here is what the Republican party will do. They will allow whoever wants to run to set up their apparatus and campaign throughout Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Then they will decide who's turn it is to get the nomination and do everything they can to undermine whoever becomes the front runner in the early states. It worked for them in 1980, 1988, 1996, 2000, 2008 and 2012, why not again? Of course, the only ones of those they actually won was 1980 and 1988. The 2000 election was decided by 5 people in Washington DC, not the rest of the country.

    April 3, 2013 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  13. MrBeenThere

    "Oh" boy..................... 2016 Circus already starting and the Clowns are climbing in the little bus...........

    April 3, 2013 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  14. Catmandew

    The republicans need to get to work on fixing our fiscal problems instead of this bull. We already have a campaigner in chief that is failing miserably. Everyone keeps campaigning meanwhile our country suffers. Do your jobs and then run on your record.

    April 3, 2013 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  15. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Gov. McDonnell has bigger problems to worry about other than bad poll numbers. Gov. McDonnell got in bed with a pharmaceutical company who makes a drug called Antabloc and in return for his corruptness, his daughter's wedding which was held at the governor's mansion was mysteriously paid for. As for the rest of those GOP contenders, The only person who has a chance is Christie. But there's no way in hell he'll get the nomination.

    April 3, 2013 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  16. sgs

    Well, "James Bond," who do you think our present administration supports? Who gets our money? Hint: Middle East

    April 3, 2013 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  17. clarke

    CNN, stop already with 2016. Lets just look at today! People will be so sick of this, they won't even vote come 2016. Give everyone a break from the politicians who want to be President.

    April 3, 2013 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  18. James Bond

    Do you like the gray shark, or the lemon shark, or great white, all varieties for your choosing, one result, push the policies of the very wealthy, nothing new here folks

    April 3, 2013 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  19. v_mag

    Polls about who will run for president in 2016 are about as significant now as they would be about 2020 or 2024. But polling organizations poll, so they have to keep doing something between elections so that people won't forget them. People will certainly forget what the polls said in 3 years.

    Meanwhile, I examined the entrails of a cat and threw some dice, and my informal poll says that, no matter who the GOP picks, the party will lose in a landslide. Bet my poll is pretty close to the mark.

    April 3, 2013 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  20. ST

    GOP better bring back that special group of 2012 which consisted of : "Mr. Becky, Becky, Becky", Mr. 47%, Mr. Ooops, etc. etc. at least they have been there and they might have learnt from the mistakes they made.

    April 3, 2013 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  21. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    American voters aren't dumb enough to vote for any of these gop teaparty losers for president and Rubio the savior of the gop bafoon party won't even be realected in Florida ,who's going to vote for him ???? The rest of the Cuban anchors babies . What about the rest of us ???? The gop has been a total failure in Florida ,Rubio Scott trey radel are all teaparty losers who will be gone after 2014 mid terms !!!!!!

    April 3, 2013 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  22. JeffersonLives

    They should abolish polls now. This is nothing more than an attempt to pick the candidates for the people rather than the people choosing their nominees. So shut up and stop trying to define our choices, we decide that, not the media. Freedom of press was never meant to mean that the media could be propaganda arms of the State.

    April 3, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  23. dragonfire77

    Cast of clowns...take 2...

    April 3, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  24. James Bond

    It is becoming clear to even their thick skulled advisors, block votes, or lose big, to hear some of the arguements they are using in an attempt to repeal act 5, shameless. people need to realize that comprimising the way our system works to win , there is the problem you should be concerned with

    April 3, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  25. James Bond

    And who put us in the "middle east", we are still paying for it

    April 3, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
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