That Hillary vs. Ron Paul Rasmussen Poll: What Does It Mean ?by Doug Mataconis
There’s been much blogosphere commentary on an article earlier this week from Rasmussen Reports showing that Hillary Clinton only leads Ron Paul by ten percentage points in the most recent, and first to my knowledge, head-to-head matchup poll between them.
Rasmussen contends that the poll says more about Clinton than it does about Paul:
First, because just about everyone in the United States has an opinion of Hillary Clinton. She has been a major player on the national and international stage for 15 years. Half the country has a favorable opinion of her and half holds the opposite view, but all have an opinion. Our most recent survey results show that nearly 60% of voters have a strongly held opinion about the New York Senator and former First Lady.
As for Ron Paul, 42% don’t know enough about him to have an opinion one way or the other. He’s one of 435 Congressman whose life is way below the radar screen for most Americans. Still, his presence in the GOP Presidential Debates has raised his profile a bit–26% now offer a favorable opinion and 32% say the opposite. But, only 16% have a strongly held opinion about Paul (7% Very Favorable, 9% Very Unfavorable).
A look at the crosstabs demonstrates that it is attitudes towards Clinton that are driving the numbers in this polling match-up. Among all voters, Clinton attracts 48% support. Among the voters who have never heard of Ron Paul or don’t know enough to have an opinion, guess what. Clinton attracts the exact same total–48% of the vote. So whether or not people have heard of Ron Paul as the challenger, support for Clinton doesn’t change.
Among the 51% who have heard of Ron Paul but don’t have a Very Favorable opinion of him, Clinton attracts 49% of the vote.
The only noticeable difference to be found is among that very small slice of the electorate that has a Very Favorable opinion of Paul. Seven percent (7%) of the nation’s voters fit this description and they prefer the Texas Congressman over the Democratic frontrunner by a 70% to 27% margin.
Interestingly, Clinton’s numbers against Paul aren’t all that different from the numbers she gets against any of the other Republican candidates. But that isn’t all that surprising considering that we’re still at an early point in the race, especially when it comes to talking about head-to-head matchups. Of all the Presidential candidates on either side of aisle, Clinton comes into the race with the most baggage and the highest negatives. So, when you put her up against a generic Republican, there’s going to be a certain number of people who are going to pick the other guy.
But that doesn’t mean much of anything at this point in the race, and, contrary to what some Paul supporters might think, it doesn’t mean that he has any better of a chance to beat her than any of the other Republican candidates, or any chance at all (take note — I don’t think any Republican is going to be able to win in 2008, so who ends up at the top of the ticket in `08 almost doesn’t matter).
So, for you Hillary-haters out there, of which I am proudly one, this isn’t time to start celebrating. That may not come until January 20, 2017.