Fiorina gets rise in GOP ratings after presidential announcement

May 14, 2015, 1:49 PM GMT+0

Carly Fiorina has seen a boost in popularity, particulary among Republicans, since she announced she is running for president

Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina wasn’t well-known even to Republicans before she announced her candidacy for President last week, but since then she has received a burst of support from them in the form of higher favorable ratings. Still, in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, one in three Republicans still don’t know enough about her to make a judgment pro or con.

Just about all the change in opinion about Fiorina in the last week was in the positive direction. Among Republicans, there was a 17-point gain.

While in theory, Fiorina could be the first woman nominated for President by the Republican Party (in 2008, then-Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was the vice presidential candidate), Republicans don’t seem to be as enthusiastic as Democrats are at the prospect of nominating a woman. Part of that may be the fact that Democrats expect Hillary Clinton to win and are happy with her candidacy. Fiorina has yet to make that kind of impression within her party.

Republicans’ image of the former executive is one that focuses on her past as a business leader. She is seen as a smart, strong, ambitious business woman, but she is also seen as inexperienced. While she has run for public office in California before, she was unsuccessful in her 2010 rave for the U.S. Senate.

Concerns about her experience show up in specific questions about Fiorina, too. Although 61% of Republicans describe Fiorina as a strong leader, Republicans are closely divided on whether she has the qualifications to be President.

Republicans are also doubtful about her chances of actually winning the presidency in the 2016 election

Only 19% of the overall public say Fiorina is qualified for the job of President. Like most Republicans, Democrats and independents are dubious about her electability. Part of that doubt may be due to the belief among many outside of the Republican Party that the GOP is not ready to nominate a woman for the Presidency. 59% of Republicans think their party is ready to nominate a woman, but less than a quarter of Democrats agree.

Hillary Clinton, of course, currently dominates the race on the Democratic side. Likely because of this, both Democrats and Republicans say the Democratic Party is ready to nominate a woman. 84% of Democrats and 72% of Republicans agree on that.

Partisan differences also appear when Americans are asked whether or not most of the people they know would vote for a woman for President. Although the question is generic, it appears that at least some may be seeing the questions as a referendum on Hillary Clinton. Two-thirds of Democrats and a majority of independents say most of the people they know would vote for a woman. But only 41% of Republicans agree.

There is not much difference by gender on this question, though there is an age difference: less than half of those 65 and older say most people they know would vote for a woman for President.

Fewer Republicans hope for a woman President is their lifetime they say the country will have a woman President. In previous Economist/YouGov Polls many Republicans give Hillary Clinton a good chance of being elected. That GOP gap between hope and expectation may have more to do with their feelings about the electability of the Democrat Clinton (whom they don’t like but many say can win) than with feelings about Fiorina (who they like but doubt will win).

For others, including independents and especially Democrats, the gap in the answers to these two questions is much narrower.

See the full poll results

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.