Only One Party Has A 2016 Favorite

December 12, 2012, 1:30 PM GMT+0

(Week of 12/8/2012) Yes, it’s early. Too early. But even as of this much-too-early date, the Democrats have one clear favorite when they were asked in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll who they think should be their party’s nominee for President in 2016 — and that person is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

53% of Democrats believe Clinton should be their party’s 2016 nominee. Many may have supported her in 2008, when she lost a hard-fought battle with President Barack Obama for the nomination—a battle that only ended on the day of the final primaries in June. Democrats’ second choice isn’t even another potential candidate — it is "not sure." 15% choose current Vice President Joe Biden, 6% New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Clinton has broad support: she is the first choice of independents and even of Republicans when they are asked whom Democrats should nominate. But in both of those groups Clinton is second to "not sure." Among Democrats, Clinton leads with men and women, and with liberals and moderates.

The picture is far different on the GOP side. Florida Senator Marco Rubio gets more votes than any of the other named contenders, but just 21% of Republicans choose him. 14% favor this year’s Vice Presidential nominee, Congressman Paul Ryan. But many Republicans aren’t sure about whom to support: "not sure" runs better than Rubio with them.

"Not sure" would win with Democrats and independents, too. For those outside the party, Rubio isn’t even the most-mentioned contender. Democrats choose New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, independents favor Christie and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Christie, who was extremely visible in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, handling the devastation in his hard-hit state, does better with those outside the GOP than with those inside. Among Republicans, he is tied for third with Rice, each getting just 8% support. Jeb Bush, son and brother of former Presidents, fares even worse. Only 6% of Republicans choose him.

Many would like to see both sides move towards the middle. One in three adults wants the GOP to nominate someone less conservative than Mitt Romney, this year’s nominee, and nearly as many want the Democrats to nominate someone less liberal than the President.

But the hope for less ideological candidates is not necessarily held by party members. Just 7% of Democrats want a candidate less liberal than the President (15% want someone even more liberal). And by 40% to 14%, Republicans want a candidate who is more conservative, not less so.

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here

Photo source: Press Association