Clarus Poll: 2012 Presidential Race

Dec 22, 2010, 00:01 ET from Clarus Poll

85% Say Nation In Decline, 48% Want Nonpartisan President; What GOP Voters Want In A Nominee

EMBARGO FOR REPORTING IN ANY MEDIA 6 AM WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2010

WASHINGTON, Dec. 22, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a year-end nationwide poll conducted by the nonpartisan Clarus Research Group assessing the mood of the country and the next presidential election, a whopping 85 percent of voters say they agree with the statement, "In many ways America is in decline and we need strong, competent leadership to get us back on track."

Nearly half of all voters -- 48 percent -- also say it would be a good idea to elect a "nonpartisan" President who is neither a Democrat nor a Republican.

"You'd expect independent voters to want an independent President. But more than two out of every five Democrats and Republicans also say electing a nonpartisan President is a good idea," said Ron Faucheux, president of Clarus Research Group. "There is clearly potential for an independent candidate to do quite well in 2012."

Looking at 2012 match-ups, the Clarus Poll found that President Obama is leading 3-way races against GOP possibilities Romney and Palin with Michael Bloomberg running as an independent. Bloomberg does much better when Palin is the Republican candidate. Among GOP voters, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Arkansas Mike Huckabee and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin are the leading presidential contenders.

The poll was conducted by Clarus Research Group, a nonpartisan firm based in Washington, D.C. It was not paid for or sponsored by any client, candidate or political party.

The survey was conducted by live telephone interviews December 10-16, 2010 with a sample of 1,000 self-identified registered. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent. The sample of Republican voters polled was 365, with a margin of error +/- 5.1 percent. Results reported in this release include all questions asked that related to the 2012 presidential race.

Key findings from the Clarus Poll:

AMERICA IN DECLINE: 85 percent said they agreed with the statement, "In many ways America is in decline and we need strong, competent leadership to get us back on track." Though heavy majorities across the political spectrum agreed with the statement, Republicans (93 percent) were more likely to agree than Democrats (82 percent).

"The public mood is bigger than the sum of its parts," said Faucheux, president of Clarus Research Group. "Regardless of how voters feel about specific issues or personalities, there is a shared sense that the nation is in decline and needs strong, competent leadership to get it back on track. Large majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents agree with this sentiment."

OBAMA-ROMNEY-BLOOMBERG TRIAL HEAT: In a three-way presidential race with Mitt Romney as the GOP candidate, President Obama posts a small 3-point lead over Romney, 39-36 percent. Running as an independent, Michael Bloomberg captures 13 percent of the vote with 12 percent undecided. "Twenty-percent of independents, 11 percent of Republicans and 8 percent of Democrats support Bloomberg, who does best in the Northeast where he gets 17 percent of the vote."

OBAMA-PALIN-BLOOMBERG TRIAL HEAT: In a three-way presidential race with Sarah Palin as the GOP candidate, Obama has an 11-point lead over Palin, 42-31 percent. Running as an independent, Bloomberg captures 18 percent of the vote with 9 percent undecided.

"In a three-way race with Palin as the Republican nominee, the GOP loses major support to an independent alternative," said Faucheux. "Against Obama and Palin, Bloomberg gets 24 percent of Republicans, 10 percent of Democrats, and 22 percent of independents."

The best showing made by an independent candidate in modern times was 1992, when Ross Perot captured nearly 19 percent of the vote.

REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION: Current preference among Republican voters:

Mitt Romney

19%

Mike Huckabee

18

Sarah Palin

17

Newt Gingrich

10

Chris Christie

9

Marco Rubio

5

Ron Paul

4

Bobby Jindal

4

Tim Pawlenty

3

Haley Barbour

2

John Thune

2

Mitch Daniels

2

Undecided

5



"Romney, Huckabee, and Palin are the early top tier candidates," said Faucheux, "but the other possible candidates capture a total of 41 percent of the vote, indicating that this race is wide open."

"In addition to the top three, Gingrich shows substantial strength and Christie does very well given his limited nationwide recognition. Though other candidates are generally not well known now, there is plenty of room for one or more of them to emerge as major contenders," said Faucheux. "Of course, all 12 of the names we tested are not likely to run. As the field develops and the campaign gets underway, expect to see numbers change."

WHAT REPUBLICANS WANT IN A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Republicans prefer a presidential candidate who:

  • has management experience as a governor (65 percent) over someone with legislative experience in Congress (15 percent)––10 percent volunteered that a candidate should have both.
  • has experience in private business (53 percent) over someone with experience in government (28 percent)––11 percent volunteered that a candidate should have both.
  • is known for being intelligent and competent (49 percent) over someone who is known for clear and consistent philosophical principles (37 percent)––10 percent volunteered that a candidate should have both.
  • is a moderate, pragmatic conservative with a good chance to beat Obama (61 percent) over someone who is a staunch, outspoken conservative who has only a fair chance of beating Obama (29 percent).

CANDIDATE YOUTH: Twenty-percent of Republicans said "early 40s" is too young to be President while 76 percent said it is not too young. Two potential prospects for the GOP presidential or vice presidential nominations will be 41 in 2012, Marco Rubio and Bobby Jindal.

OBAMA VS. BILL CLINTON: Among all voters, 45 percent said they'd rather have former President Clinton in the White House while 29 percent said they'd rather have Obama. Twenty-six percent were undecided. Obama carried Democrats 48-40 percent in this hypothetical match-up. But Clinton carried independents 45-21 percent and Republicans 49-15 percent.

OBAMA VS. GEORGE W. BUSH: Among all voters, 48 percent said they'd prefer Obama be President and 44 percent said they'd prefer Bush. Eight percent were undecided. Obama carried Democrats 89-7 percent and independents 40-34 percent, but Bush carried Republicans 85-10 percent.

QUESTIONS ASKED IN NATIONWIDE CLARUS POLL:

I am now going to read to you a couple of statements about government and politics… please tell me whether you agree or disagree with each one––


AGREE

DISAGREE

DON'T KNOW/NO ANSWER





In many ways, America is in decline and we need strong, competent leadership to get us back on track

85%

11%

4%





It would be good for the country to elect a nonpartisan President who is neither a Democrat nor a Republican

48%

38%

14%



Turning to the 2012 election for a moment…

What if the candidates for President in the next election were (ROTATE NAME ORDER) Barack Obama, the Democrat, Mitt Romney, the Republican, and Michael Bloomberg, the independent…which one would you most likely vote for?

1. Obama  39%

2. Romney  36%

3. Bloomberg 13%

4. (VOLUNTEERED) Undecided/don't know  12%

What if the candidates for President were (ROTATE NAME ORDER) Barack Obama, the Democrat, Sarah Palin, the Republican, and Michael Bloomberg, the independent…which one would you most likely vote for?

1. Obama  42%

2. Palin  31%

3. Bloomberg 18%

4. (VOLUNTEERED) Undecided/don't know  9%

Because of term limits, Bill Clinton cannot run for President again. But, just suppose for a moment, that he could run again––in that case, would you prefer (ROTATE NAME ORDER) Barack Obama or Bill Clinton to be elected President?

1. Obama 29%

2. Clinton  45%

3. (VOLUNTEERED) Undecided/don't know  26%

Even though the President before Obama––George W. Bush––also cannot run for president again because of term limits, just suppose for a moment that he could run again––in that case, would you prefer (ROTATE NAME ORDER) Barack Obama or George W. Bush to be elected President?

1. Obama 48%

2. Bush  44%

3. (VOLUNTEERED) Undecided/don't know   8%

THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS WERE ASKED ONLY OF REPUBLICANS...

As you may know, there are a number of Republicans who are considering running for president in 2012. Please tell me which ONE of the following would you most likely vote for if the presidential primary were held today… (ROTATE NAME ORDER) Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie, John Thune, Haley Barbour, Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, or Mitch Daniels…

Mitt Romney

19%

Mike Huckabee

18

Sarah Palin

17

Newt Gingrich

10

Chris Christie

9

Marco Rubio

5

Ron Paul

4

Bobby Jindal

4

Tim Pawlenty

3

Haley Barbour

2

John Thune

2

Mitch Daniels

2

Undecided

5



Thinking more about the 2012 election…

Would you prefer the next Republican presidential candidate be someone with legislative experience in Congress …or… someone with management experience as a governor?

1. Legislative experience/Congress  15%

2. Management experience/governor  65%

3. (VOLUNTEERED) Should have both  10%

4. (VOLUNTEERED) Neither  3%

5. (VOLUNTEERED) DON'T KNOW/NO ANSWER  7%

If you had to pick between the two––would you prefer the next Republican presidential candidate be someone with experience in government …or… someone with experience in private business?

1. Experience in government  28%

2. Experience in private business  53%

3. (VOLUNTEERED) Should have both  11%

4. (VOLUNTEERED) Neither  2%

5. (VOLUNTEERED) DON'T KNOW/NO ANSWER  6%

If you had to pick between the two––would you prefer the next Republican presidential candidate be someone known for clear and consistent philosophical principles …or… someone known to be intelligent and competent?

1. Someone with clear and consistent philosophical principles  37%

2. Someone who is intelligent and competent  49%

3. (VOLUNTEERED) Should have both  10%

4. (VOLUNTEERED) Neither  1%

5. (VOLUNTEERED) DON'T KNOW/NO ANSWER  4%

If you had to pick between the two––would you prefer the next Republican presidential candidate be a moderate conservative who has a good chance of beating Barack Obama …or… someone who is an outspoken conservative who has only a fair chance of beating Barack Obama?

1. A moderate, pragmatic conservative   61%

2. A staunch, outspoken conservative    29%

3. (VOLUNTEERED) Should have both   4%

4. (VOLUNTEERED) DON'T KNOW/NO ANSWER   5%

Do you think someone in his or her early 40s is too young to be President?

1. Yes   20%

2. No   76%

3. (VOLUNTEERED) DEPENDS   3%

4.  (VOLUNTEERED) DON'T KNOW/NO ANSWER   1%

SOURCE Clarus Poll