The latest on the presidential horse race.

2016 GOP Nomination: Favorable/Unfavorable Trends

Candidate

Very Liberal

Somewhat Liberal

Moderate

Somewhat Conservative

Very Conservative

Chris Christie

32% favorable

44

57

53

34

Rand Paul

63

33

41

56

72

Mike Huckabee

68

40

41

65

80

Ted Cruz

41

28

30

38

58

Jeb Bush

41

21

48

52

50

Last week we looked at December polling trends in the 2016 GOP nomination race but voter polls only tell us so much this far out from the primaries. By the time the race rolls around from state-to-state, many of the candidates may have already dropped out of the race while some who are doing well in polls may decide not to run after all. This is why favorable ratings can be so important in understanding the electoral landscape. They don’t tell us who people prefer to vote for but they do suggest which candidates people would be willing to vote for – or not willing to vote for.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is the presumed frontrunner in the GOP race but a lot has been made about his “moderate” label that may turn off conservative voters. A December PPP poll confirmed that as Christie had just a 34 percent favorable rating and 39 unfavorable among self-identified Very Conservative voters. He does, however, have a solid 53 favorable rating among Somewhat Conservative voters and 57 among moderate voters. He even has a 44 favorable rating and 24 unfavorable rating among Somewhat Liberal voters, suggesting that he would be a strong candidate in a general election.

While Rand Paul doesn’t appeal to moderates, owning just a 41 percent favorable rating among Moderate voters, he has an off-the-charts 72 percent favorable rating among Very Conservative voters and 56 among Somewhat Conservative voters. More interestingly, the libertarian has a 63 percent favorable rating among Very Liberal voters.

Ted Cruz, a fellow Tea Partier, does not share Paul’s popularity. He has a solid 58 percent favorable rating among Very Conservative voters but just a 38 among Somewhat Conservative voters and a 30 among Moderates.

Jeb Bush has been a middle-of-the-pack candidate and received middle-of-the-pack numbers. He has a 50 percent favorable rating among Very Conservative voters, 52 among Somewhat Conservative voters, and 48 among Moderates.

Mike Huckabee, on the other hand, is by far the most liked candidate in the race. He has an 80 percent favorable rating among Very Conservative voters, 65 among Somewhat Conservative voters, and even a 68 percent among Very Liberal voters. He only has a 41 percent favorable among Moderates, however, and a 40 among Somewhat Liberal voters.

All in all, Christie remains the frontrunner but Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee have very interesting demographic splits that can change the entire landscape of primaries, particularly in states where anyone can vote in the GOP primary regardless of party affiliation.

(Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore)