Latest Poll of GOP Activists has Good News and Bad News for the Candidates

The liberal online news rag the Huffington Post recently conducted a poll of Republican activists in an effort gauge their support of the announced candidates for President. What they found was an interesting mix of “obviously” and “surprisingly,” and I thought you’d like to see some of the numbers too.

The main thing to remember is that this poll is not a poll of Americans or even a poll of GOP voters, but a poll of GOP “activists.” These are folks who are heavily involved in the political “ground game” for the Republican Party, so we really can’t use it as a gauge for what the average voter is thinking, because these people are hyper-aware of the candidates and their positions.

To that end, here’s the first piece of data from their poll. It asked “how familiar are you with the candidate.”


Trending: The Conservative Answer to Reforming the Criminal Justice Sysytem


Notice that Donald Trump has likely reached his ceiling of performance with the activist crowd because everyone has a good idea of who he is already. The same can be said with the general American public and more specifically with GOP voters. This is not good news for Trump, as it means that he’s not likely to get much more popular than he already is. Even though he’s currently leading the GOP field, he doesn’t have much hope of climbing any higher as the field winnows down in the coming months. We can expect, even if Trump’s popularity holds steady, that one or more of the other candidates will eventually surpass his poll numbers because every other candidate still has room to grow with regular voters when it comes to “familiarity.”

The next set of poll data is arguably even more important.


Among the GOP activists Scott Walker and Marco Rubio are the leading choices for President, not Donald Trump. Trump does come in 3rd, but when we connect it to the previous data we realize that he has no room for improvement in this poll… meanwhile behind him Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina (and to a lesser extent Ted Cruz and Rand Paul) have a lot of room for growth! More importantly (as HuffPo points out) the selection of Walker and Rubio as the frontrunners shows that activists believe Walker and Rubio to be both worthy of election and electable.

The next two data sets go hand in hand. The first shows which candidates the activists believe can win the Republican nomination compared to which candidates are the most “acceptable” to Republican voters. The second shows which candidates the activists believe can win the nomination as compared to those which can win the general election.



Notice that again Walker and Rubio far outperform every other candidate. While Bush is perceived as a solid candidate for the nomination, no one seems to actually WANT to vote for him. The activists also obviously believe that he cannot beat Hillary Clinton. Likely much of this general election negativity is due to his last name being Bush.

HuffPo expounds on Jeb Bush’s obvious problems in the GOP.

Bush’s problems run deeper than his general election chances, with activists divided in their opinions of him. Just over half (51 percent) rate Bush favorably, but nearly as many rate him unfavorably (47 percent). A similar divide emerges on a different question about Bush winning the nomination, with exactly as many (49 percent) saying they would be either enthusiastic or satisfied as saying they would be either dissatisfied or upset (49 percent).  

Not surprisingly, Bush’s numbers are weaker with the most conservative activists. Activists who consider themselves part of the tea party are more likely to say they would be angry if Bush won the nomination (40 percent) than not angry (24 percent); the ire would be higher among those who say they are very conservative (41 percent) than among those who are just conservative or moderate (25 percent).

Another clue to Bush’s problems with the activists is evident in the higher-than-average correlation between ratings of Bush and ratings of 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney — in other words, Romney fans tend to be Bush fans. Bush’s rating is stronger than average (60 percent favorable, 40 percent unfavorable) among those who rate Romney favorably. Among those who dislike Romney, Bush earns only 31 percent favorable and 68 percent unfavorable.  

Honestly, I feel like this HuffPo piece may be one of the most accurate depictions of the current state of GOP politics that I’ve read in a while. My preferred candidates (you are free to disagree) happen to be Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, but I believe that Scott Walker and Marco Rubio are much more likely to come out on top in the GOP nomination race. I’ve also noticed that while Jeb Bush polls consistently among the leaders, and most people I speak with about the issue begrudgingly admit that if Jeb is the nominee they will vote for him, none of them seem to very much like the idea of being forced to vote for him!

In fact, many of the preconceived notions that I have about this race (very early on) are reinforced by the results and analysis of this survey.

What do you think? Do you agree with the opinions of these GOP activists? Do you agree with the analysis? More importantly, are you happy, content or worried about the information in the polls? Could you see yourself voting for Scott Walker or Marco Rubio, or would these candidates keep you from the polls?


Read the whole Huffington Post article on GOP activists here!

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

Join the conversation!

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment where we can engage in reasonable discourse.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!

Send this to a friend