Poll: Republicans view current GOP field positively

The Pew Research Center has released its latest polling data on how Republicans view the current 2016 GOP field.

Almost 60 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters “say they have an excellent or good impression of their party’s presidential candidates.”  This is up from just 44 percent during the equivalent phase of the election cycle in 2011, and up from 50 percent in 2007.

Mike Huckabee has the highest percentage (54 percent) of favorable ratings among Republicans polled.  Rand Paul and Jeb Bush are tied for second place at 52 percent, with Marco Rubio in fourth at 51 percent.  Scott Walker and Ted Cruz are at 46 and 45 percent, respectively.

Walker has the lowest percentage of unfavorable ratings, followed closely by Rubio.  At the other end, Bush has by far the largest unfavorable rating, with Cruz, Paul, and Huckabee effectively tied, with each having about a quarter of respondents ranking them unfavorable.

Taking the ratio of favorable:unfavorable ratings, Walker comes out on top (2.7), followed by Rubio (2.6), Huckabee (2.3), Paul (2.2), Cruz (1.8), and in last place Bush (1.5).

Apparently, 17 percent of Republicans still view Hillary Clinton favorably, down from more than 40 percent in 2012.

The most conservative Republicans are leaning toward Huckabee and Rubio, with – perhaps surprisingly – Cruz in last place.  Bush is unsurprisingly in the lead among “moderate and liberal” GOP voters, while “conservative Republicans generally offer, on balance, more favorable ratings of the candidates than liberal and moderate Republicans.”

Drilling into the data, some demographic patterns are evident:

Older Republicans and Republican leaners – those 65 and older – give especially positive ratings to Marco Rubio and Scott Walker. By an overwhelming 64%-6% margin, older Republicans hold a favorable view of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker ... Florida Senator Marco Rubio is viewed positively by three-quarters of Republicans 65 and older (75%), while just 11% view him negatively ... Republicans and Republican leaners who have thought a lot about 2016 hold more favorable than unfavorable views of Marco Rubio (71%-14%), Scott Walker (65%-15%), Ted Cruz (62%-21%), Rand Paul (63%-24%), and Mike Huckabee (65%-25%). By contrast, views of Jeb Bush are more narrowly positive: 54% view him favorably, while 41% view him unfavorably.

Twenty-eight percent of Republicans still view Bill Clinton favorably, down from 46 percent in 2011.  George W. Bush’s favorability rating has remained essentially constant among Republicans over the last few years at 73 percent.