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Poll: No Clear GOP Frontrunner Yet, RMU Poll Finds

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Pittsburgh, June 3 — Republican voters nationwide have yet to decide on a clear front-runner among the growing coterie of potential presidential nominees, with only three polling above 10 percent and four others close behind, according to a national poll by the Robert Morris University Polling Institute.

The poll, sponsored by Trib Total Media, was conducted in May and included both a national survey and a segment devoted to Pennsylvania issues.

The national poll showed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 15.4 percent, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at 14.6 percent and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker with 13.8 percent — each within the poll’s 3-point margin for error.

Four more potential candidates polled within 10 points of the three poll leaders. They are New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (7.5 percent), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (7.5 percent), Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (7.1 percent) and Dr. Ben Carson (6.7 percent).

“The big loser in this poll is Rand Paul, who only received 2 percent of the Republicans surveyed,” said RMU political science professor Philip Harold. Another notable disappointment was former  Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who posted a scant 1.2 percent nationally.

Santorum, who announced his second try for the Republican nomination May 27, found one bright spot in the RMU poll: he led the field among Pennsylvanians. Santorum did notably better among younger voters, with half of his support coming from voters under 45. Three-fourths of his supporters reported being married and a similar portion of his voters came from households with less than $75,000 annual income.

Harold noted that the profile of the Santorum voter matches the group he invoked in his campaign announcement: working class voters.

Half of Santorum’s support came from voters under age 45.

“This suggests his main opponent in the Republican primary will be Mike Huckabee, whose campaign also appeals to just these voters,” Harold said.

Of 529 Pennsylvanians surveyed, Santorum was the preferred candidate of 14.5 percent. Jeb Bush was at second (8.4 percent), followed by Walker (7.8 percent) and Rubio (4.2 percent). The Pennsylvania segment of the poll has a 4.5 percent margin for error.

While an early snapshot one year out from the first primaries and caucuses, Harold said the poll reveals patterns among supporters that might influence candidates’ primary season strategies.

"One noteworthy finding was the degree to which seniors support Scott Walker,” said Harold. More than half of those supporting Walker — 54 percent — were senior citizens. "That makes it interesting to see how he talks about entitlement reform in his campaign,” Harold said.

Among the top Republican candidates, all but one drew disproportionately higher support from men. Huckabee received 74 percent of his support from women. Huckabee's support base also had the lowest household income among top Republican candidates; households with less than $75,000 of annual income made up 63 percent of his supporters.

“This shows Huckabee with his own niche of support, which can benefit him in the long primary season while the other candidates fight to divvy up the same pool of voters,” Harold said.

Among Democrats polled, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (55.8 percent) held what would seem to be an insurmountable lead over Vice President Joe Biden (8.0 percent), Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (4.8 percent) and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (2.9 percent). The poll was completed before former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley announced he would seek the Democratic nomination, but he was included in the survey and registered support at 0.6 percent.

 


ABOUT THE POLL: The poll was conducted by the Robert Morris University Polling Institute. Polling by the institute is conducted on a regular basis and may also include spontaneous polling on occurring events. RMU polls have been featured in national media outlets including The New York Times, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, and Huffington Post. Go to rmu.edu/poll for more information.


METHODOLOGY: The poll sampled opinions of 1,003 adults approximately proportional to state population contribution nationwide. The survey was conducted May 8-16, 2015. All surveys were conducted using an online survey instrument. The poll has a +/- 3.0 percentage point margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level on a composite basis.