This morning’s Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind finds that Americans want the president to compromise in his final years in office in order to pass legislation. By a two-to-one margin, more Americans say President Obama should compromise with the new Congress whenever possible in order to get things done (59%), rather than stay true to his beliefs, even though it may mean little is accomplished (27%).
“Rhetoric on the right and left may sound divisive and reflect a ‘take no prisoners’ attitude, but it’s clear the public doesn’t agree and just wants to see the needs of the country addressed. Even a plurality of Democrats seem to be tired with the gridlock and prefer compromise over principled objections,” said Krista Jenkins, director of the poll and professor of political science.
Obama continues to be mired in low approval ratings — generating the approval of 38 percent of Americans nationwide, with 48 percent who say they disapprove. Over half of respondents (56%) are concerned about the direction the country is headed, with barely a quarter (28%) who say it’s headed down the right path.
With the 2016 Presidential election just over two years out, current and former politicians will have to play catch up to reach Hillary Clinton. Right now, 54 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of the former secretary of state, with 38 percent who evaluate her unfavorably. The closest Republican potential candidate is former governor of Massachusetts and one time presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. Slightly fewer than half of respondents (46%) have a favorable opinion of him, with 38 percent who report an unfavorable opinion.
“Formal candidacies are likely to be declared soon, perhaps as early as January. Beginning the long, tough, slog toward party nominations starts with good name recognition and positive favorability ratings which are likely to help with fund-raising and securing early support,” said Jenkins, “Right now, it looks like the frontrunners within both parties, are those from the establishment wings of their parties.”
On the Republican side, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, comes in second to Romney with favorability/unfavorability ratings that are about even. Thirty-four percent of respondents feel positively toward him, with 32 percent who say the opposite. Tied with Governor Bush is the current governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, who has numbers virtually identical (34% favorable, 33% unfavorable). Following Christie is Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. As with Christie and Bush, opinion is divided over the senator, with 30 percent favorability and 29 percent unfavorability. Trailing behind, is Texas Governor Rick Perry (26% to 30%, respectively), Texas Senator Ted Cruz (23% to 27%, respectively) and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (18 to 15%, respectively). Walker is known by relatively few Americans currently, with 51 percent who say they’ve never heard of him.
“Governor Christie’s favorables are no better than many other Republicans and are worse than Mitt Romney’s. It was once assumed that Christie was the Northeast Republican successor to Romney. It appears that Bridgegate has tarnished him,” said Jenkins.
On the Democratic side, around a quarter of all Americans (26%) have a favorable opinion of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, with a fifth (18%) who do not. Almost four-in-ten (38%), however, remain unacquainted with her.
“Another takeaway from these numbers is the disconnect between political insiders and the general electorate. The bottom line is that a majority of Americans don’t know many of these former and current elected officials. As a result, there’s plenty of room for those who aren’t looking as good as they’d like to introduce and define themselves to the American public,” said Jenkins.
Among self-identified Republicans, Romney is the clear winner, with 73 percent who evaluate him favorably. Behind him is Bush, with 56% support, followed by Rand Paul who is the only other possible candidate to top 50% favorability among the party faithful (53%). Christie and Perry do the same among Republicans (47%), with Cruz (42%) and Walker (32%) trailing behind.
“If Romney isn’t in the running, there doesn’t appear to be a possible candidate currently captivating the base in numbers that eclipse those of his potential opponents,” said Jenkins.
As for the Democrats, Hillary Clinton is seen favorably by 81 percent, compared with Warren’s 46 percent. A third of all Democrats (33%), say they don’t know who Elizabeth Warren is, compared with just two percent who don’t know Hillary Clinton.
“Warren looks like someone to watch. Clinton has been around for decades, but the first-term senator from Massachusetts who took Republican Scott Brown’s seat clearly has been gaining a national reputation with her criticisms of cronyism on Wall Street,” said Jenkins.
In an open-ended question about whom respondents think their party will select as their nominee in 2016, Democrats are more likely to give a name (60%) than Republicans (41%). Over half of all Democrats (54%) believe Hillary Clinton will be their party’s nominee in 2016. Republicans, on the other hand, are largely unsure. Of those who do believe they know, 11 percent say it’s likely to be Jeb Bush, 9 percent believe Romney will prevail, and 7 percent identify Chris Christie. Other names given total a combined 13 percent — comprised of those who garnered a percent or two at the most.
The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 1002 adults aged 18 and older was conducted by telephone with both landline and cell phones from December 8 through December 15, 2014 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1percentage points.