For Republicans, the ideal presidential candidate is a male military veteran and evangelical Christian who is now a governor or business executive and has little or no Washington experience. (More)
Poll Vaulting, Part I: The Ideal Candidate
This week Morning Feature jumps around public opinion polls on various issues. Today we begin with a Pew Research poll on the characteristics voters want and don’t want in a presidential candidate. Tomorrow we’ll look at Pew’s polling on the Affordable Care Act and how midterm voters weigh the ACA. Saturday we’ll conclude with Pew’s look at millennials entering adulthood.
Ready for a woman?
Most Americans are ready for a female president, according to a Pew Research poll released last month. Overall, 19% said they would be more likely to vote for a woman, while only 9% said they would be less likely, and 71% said the candidate’s gender wouldn’t matter.
But Republicans … not so much. Only 10% said they would be more likely to vote for a woman, versus 15% who said they would be less likely. And among conservative Republicans, almost twice as many said they would be less likely to vote for a woman as said they would be more likely to do so (19% vs. 10%).
Among Democrats, 30% said they would be more likely to vote for a woman, while only 5% said they would be less likely to do so. Independents followed the national trend, with 16% more likely to support a woman and only 9% less likely to do so.
The GOP: Supporting veterans (sort of) …
Military experience was the most positively rated characteristic among all Americans, with 43% saying they would be more likely to support a veteran while only 4% said they would be less likely. That trend was even stronger among Republicans, with 63% saying they would be more likely to vote for a veteran.
So Republicans are all about veterans, except for filibustering a bill to expand VA clinics back in February. Democrats have revived that bill and added provisions giving the VA Secretary authority to hire more doctors and nurses, open 27 new clinics, and fire employees who mismanage patients, but Republicans want to send veterans to private health care providers. Or maybe just elect them all as co-presidents so they can get White House health care.
… and business (definitely)
Republicans also want a presidential candidate with “business executive” experience, with 47% saying they would be more likely to vote for such a candidate versus 5% who would be less likely.
Not surprisingly, Democrats disagreed with the Elect a CEO meme. Only 18% of Democrats were more likely to vote for former “business executive,” while 20% were less likely, and 60% said that wouldn’t matter.
Governor or Congress?
Overall, Americans are split on whether state or federal experience is better preparation for the White House, with 44% on each side. Democrats favor a candidate with federal experience by 55-35, while Republicans favor state experience by 51-40, with Tea Party supporters even more distrustful of D.C.:
Republicans and Republican leaners who agree with the Tea Party have a particularly negative view of extensive Washington experience: 56% say they would be less likely to support a candidate with long service as a Washington elected official, compared with 31% of non-Tea Party Republicans.
Overall, 36% of Republicans are less likely to support a candidate with extensive D.C. experience, and only 15% are more likely to do so. Add to that the 46% of Republicans who are less likely to back a candidate who has had an extramarital affair, and Newt Gingrich should probably just stay home.
Atheists need not apply
White evangelical Christians made up half of 2012 Republican primary voters, and the Pew Research poll found they want one of their own, with 58% of white evangelicals saying they would back an evangelical Christian versus 4% who would be less likely.
Only 11% of white evangelicals said they’d be more likely to vote for a Catholic, while 9% said they would be less likely to do so. And fully 82% of white evangelicals said they would be less likely to support an atheist.
Hoping for “Wouldn’t Matter?”
None of this looks good for Sen. Marco Rubio, once hailed as the “Republican Savior.” He’s a member of Congress, although he’d probably claim he doesn’t have “extensive experience.” He didn’t serve in the military, or as a business executive. He’s not an evangelical Christian. He won’t say whether he’s ever used marijuana, and the Pew Research poll found that would be a big No-No for 36% of Republicans.
And only 4% of Republicans said they’d be more likely to vote for an Hispanic candidate, while 12% said they’d be less likely. The other 83% said it wouldn’t matter. Maybe he should make that his campaign slogan:
“Vote Rubio … It Wouldn’t Matter”