When it comes to running for president – at least at this early stage – a famous name sure helps.
So it is in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, in which some of the most recognizable potential candidates – Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush and Paul Ryan – lead a crowded 2016 Republican field, albeit none with anything near a clear advantage.
Moving on to a hypothetical matchup between Bush and Hillary Clinton, the Democrat leads, boosted by a huge gender gap and with a more popular clan, as well. Sixty-six percent of Americans express a favorable view of her famous family, vs. 54 percent for Bush’s.
In the GOP, each of the current leaders has name recognition: Paul’s father and Huckabee ran previously for their party’s nomination. Ryan was Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012. And Bush, a former Florida governor, has a father and a brother you might have heard of.
Paul, a senator from Kentucky, and Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, are backed, respectively, by 15 and 14 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who report being registered to vote. Bush and Ryan get 12 percent each in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates.
All others are in the single digits, ranging from 9 percent for the better-known Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, to 1 or 2 percent for comparatively less-known John Kasich and Bobby Jindal, the governors of Ohio and Louisiana, respectively.
Some say horse race polls this early in an election cycle mean little, and in a predictive sense that may well be the case. But there’s insight to gain nonetheless. An early advantage, even if based on name recognition, still is an advantage, and one that can carry through to the presidency, as in the case of George W. Bush.
Moreover, differences among groups provide useful information on support profiles. Huckabee, an ordained minister, does particularly well among evangelical white Protestants and strong conservatives, two customarily high-turnout groups in many GOP primaries and caucuses. He also does better among the party faithful – important in closed primaries – than among Republican-leaning independents, while Paul, like his father before him, has more strength among independents.
Paul may have some durability among his supporters. This poll added five names to the potential Republican lineup, compared with an ABC/Post poll in January. As a group, possible candidates on the original, shorter list lost support when others were added. Paul didn’t.
CLINTON-BUSH – Matching two marquee names in a hypothetical general election contest, Clinton has 53 percent support among registered voters to Bush’s 41 percent. Clinton led Christie by the same margin in the January ABC/Post poll.
Again, results among groups are telling. Notably, Clinton leads Bush by 23 percentage points among women, 59-36 percent, while men divide closely between the two. Clinton also has a 63-34 percent advantage among adults younger than 30 – a key support group for Barack Obama in his two presidential elections – and a vast 54-point lead among nonwhites, 74-20 percent. She leads by 21 points among those with incomes less than $50,000 a year.
Bush, for his part, leads Clinton by 41 points among conservatives and by 39 points among evangelical white Protestants, two GOP standbys. He runs competitively among independents, a potential swing voter group, as well as among whites, financially better-off adults and four-year college graduates.
Two-thirds of Americans in an ABC/Post poll last month said they’d at least consider supporting Clinton for president. Far fewer, 44 percent, said they’d consider Bush, while 48 percent ruled him out.
Finally, every president from 1989 through 2009 was a Bush or a Clinton, making family legacies part of the package should these two run and face each other. Both families are more liked than disliked – but Clinton’s more so, as noted, by a 12-point margin. “Strongly” positive views of the Clintons are a similar 10 points more than those of the Bushes.
METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone April 24-27, 2014, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,000 adults, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including design effect. Partisan divisions are 32-21-38 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents.
The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York, N.Y.