A new poll from the Pew Research Center showed recently announced candidate Mike Huckabee as the candidate with the highest favorability rating among conservatives at this point in the campaign.
The survey finds that Republican voters have generally positive impressions of six GOP declared or likely candidates. Jeb Bush is the best known of those included in the survey, but he also has the highest unfavorable rating: 52% of Republicans and Republican leaners view Bush favorably, while 35% view him unfavorably.
Among other candidates, 54% of Republicans view Mike Huckabee favorably, while 23% view him unfavorably. Rand Paul’s favorable ratings are similar (52% favorable, 24% unfavorable).
About half of Republicans (51%) view Marco Rubio favorably, compared with 20% who have an unfavorable impression; 29% are unable to rate the Florida senator. Scott Walker is viewed favorably by 46%, while 17% rate him unfavorably (36% unable to rate). And 45% view Ted Cruz favorably, compared with 25% who view him unfavorably (30% can’t rate).
Breaking down the GOP voter sample along ideological lines, self-identified conservatives knew more about the candidates but the favorability/unfavorability rating remained nearly the same.
By a 51% to 34% margin, more moderate and liberal Republicans and Republican leaners say they have a favorable than unfavorable view of Jeb Bush, while 15% do not offer a rating. Among conservative Republicans, the balance of opinion is about the same: 54% view Bush favorably, while 37% view him unfavorable and 10% do not offer a rating.
For the five other declared or likely Republican candidates included in the survey, ratings are more positive among conservative than among moderate and liberal Republicans, and this is particularly pronounced in the ratings of Marco Rubio and Scott Walker. For example, by a 60% to 15% margin, more conservative Republicans hold a favorable than unfavorable view of Marco Rubio; 25% cannot offer a rating. Rubio’s ratings among moderate and liberal Republicans are much more mixed (34% favorable, 28% unfavorable), while as many as 38% cannot offer a rating.
Similarly, Scott Walker is viewed much more positively among conservative Republicans (54% favorable, 14% unfavorable, 32% can’t rate) than among moderate and liberal Republicans (32% favorable, 24% unfavorable, 44% can’t rate).
Surprisingly, older voters preferred the youngest candidate Florida Senator Marco Rubio along with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
There also are demographic differences in Republicans’ views of these six GOP contenders. Older Republicans and Republican leaners – those 65 and older – give especially positive ratings to Marco Rubio and Scott Walker. By an overwhelming 64%-6% margin, older Republicans hold a favorable view of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker; 29% cannot offer a rating. And Florida Senator Marco Rubio is viewed positively by three-quarters of Republicans 65 and older (75%), while just 11% view him negatively (14% do not offer a rating). Older Republicans also express positive views of Mike Huckabee (52% favorable, 18% unfavorable) and Bush (60% vs. 27%). By contrast, Republicans age 65 and over hold more mixed views of Rand Paul (42% favorable, 35% unfavorable) and Ted Cruz (38% favorable, 25% unfavorable).
Younger Republicans, those under the age of 45, hold mixed views of Jeb Bush: about as many view him favorably (45%) as unfavorably (41%), while 15% cannot offer a rating. On balance, younger Republicans view the five other Republicans included in the survey more favorably than unfavorably.