New Poll Suggests Republican Race Still Wide Open

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)

While The Washington Post may have proclaimed Jeb Bush and Scott Walker as the early GOP 2016 front-runners, the polls continue to tell a different story.

The latest data comes from an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll taken at the beginning of this month.  While the survey did not ask respondents who they would vote for, it did ask whether or not respondents could see themselves supporting each candidate.  The answers were interesting, to say the least.

Marco Rubio led the presumptive GOP field, with 56 percent of likely primary voters saying they would consider supporting him.  Scott Walker (53 percent) and Mike Huckabee (52 percent) joined Rubio as the only candidates drawing potential support from over half of those surveyed.  However, Jeb Bush (49 percent), Rand Paul (49 percent), and Rick Perry (45 percent) were also within striking distance.

Among serious candidates, Chris Christie struck out with the most likely voters, with 57 percent of respondents saying they could not see themselves supporting him.  Lindsey Graham (51 percent) and Jeb Bush (42 percent) were the only other presumptive candidates (excepting Donald Trump) whose non-support surpassed 40 percent.

While these numbers would seem to suggest that Republican voters’ support could still swing in any direction, it should also give pause to any candidates tempted to adopt a “Truce Strategy.”  When asked to rank their support of particular positions, well over half of the likely primary voters surveyed identified strongly as pro-traditional marriage and pro-life (62 percent and 59 percent, respectively).

Social conservatism is still strong within the Republican base, a fact GOP candidates ignore at their peril.

Paul Dupont is a legislative assistant at American Principles in Action.