The unfavored candidates

Michael Barone:

Pollster Scott Rasmussen reports that in a recent presidential pairing, Hillary Rodham Clinton would beat Newt Gingrich by a 50-to-43 percent margin. That sounds fairly plausible, although it's a little better showing for Gingrich than I would have expected. But take a look at the favorable/unfavorable ratings. Rasmussen's numbers have Clinton's fav/unfav at 50 and 48 percent and Gingrich's fav/unfav at 43 and 48 percent. You're tempted to think that Clinton and Gingrich both got the votes of every respondent who had favorable feelings toward her or him–and not a single vote more.

Of course, that's not quite the case, but it's pretty close. Note that these two politicians–both figures of huge national prominence in the Bill Clinton years–inspire unfavorable feelings in almost half the electorate. I wonder how many are unfavorable to them both. Clinton and Gingrich in different ways have considerable political strengths. But the nomination of either one may be seen as taking us back to the partisanship of the 1990s. Not where all that many of us want to go, I think.


I have examined these numbers before in this blog but decided to give them another look. A couple of things struck me. (I'm going to refer to the candidates by their first names, not out of disrespect, but to give this a colloquial tone.)

First, there's a huge difference between men and women in almost every state. Hillary carried men only in California (48 to 45 percent), which has 55 electoral votes. Rudy carries women in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming: 194 electoral votes. That's a huge advantage for Giuliani, though if we assume his lead over Clinton is not as great today as it was last July, not as huge as the contrast between 194 and 55 suggests.


National upshot: Rudy's electoral vote position against Hillary is much stronger than Bush's against Kerry. Rudy puts almost the whole East into play and is significantly stronger in several target states in the Midwest and West. Hillary puts some states into play in the South but with many fewer electoral votes than Rudy does elsewhere. Even if you assume that Hillary is stronger against Rudy today than she was in July, the pairing does place the Republicans in a stronger position than Bush was in '04.

Barone does a lot of numbers crunching between the ...'s. I have certainly seen a lot of anecdotal evidence that Rudy will draw well in traditional Democrat areas which is not surprising since he was elected in a very Democrat city and was still extremely popular. I am sure that once the primaries are over which is a ways off the Democrats will focus on driving up his unfavorables, but it may be too late because Hillary's will probably be going up even more.


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