PRINCETON, NJ -- Democrats are much more confident that their party will win the November presidential election than are Republicans.
A new Gallup Panel survey, conducted May 19-21, finds 61% of Democrats saying they are confident their party will win the election, including 35% who are "very confident." Meanwhile, only 39% of Republicans are confident, with only 13% saying they are very confident.
Thus, rank-and-file Republicans are aware the party faces an uphill battle in retaining the White House given the problems in the economy, an ongoing and unpopular war, and an incumbent Republican president with some of the lowest job approval ratings in Gallup Poll history.
While Republicans generally agree that their odds of winning are long, a majority (58%) believe that likely presidential nominee John McCain gives the GOP the best chance of any of this year's Republican candidates of winning the election. Thirty-seven percent believe another candidate would have increased the party's odds of winning, with Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee mentioned most often, by 16% and 9% of Republicans, respectively.
Democrats are likewise secure in the belief that their likely candidate, Barack Obama, gives the party the best chance of winning the presidential election. Sixty-two percent of Democrats say this. However, 34% disagree, and the vast majority of these Democrats believe Hillary Clinton would give the party a better chance of winning.
Clinton herself has raised doubts about Obama's ability to deliver the White House to the Democrats in the fall, citing her success in the primaries in large swing states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania, and her greater appeal to blue-collar voters, a key Democratic constituency.
Notably, Democrats who prefer Obama for the nomination are much more confident in the party's chances of winning the November presidential election than are Clinton supporters, 70% to 49%. Also, as would be expected, a majority of Clinton supporters believe Clinton would give the party the best chance of winning in November; only 22% of Clinton supporters believe Obama gives the Democrats the best chance of victory.
Rank-and-file Democrats are optimistic that the current political environment, which is favorable to them, will allow them to win the presidency, in the same way it allowed them to take control of Congress following the 2006 midterm elections. A number of important political indicators underscore the Democratic advantage heading into the 2008 election, including party identification, favorable ratings of the two political parties, and party members' enthusiasm about voting in the fall election. Turnout in the Democratic primaries this year has dwarfed that in the Republican primaries, even in the early months when both contests were competitive.
Republican Party leaders are hoping that their supporters' pessimism does not result in depressed turnout on Election Day. Perhaps GOP leaders can take some solace in the fact that the rank-and-file believe the party will nominate the candidate who gives their party the best chance of winning, however long the odds may be.
Results for this Gallup Panel study are based on telephone interviews with 1,013 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted May 19-21, 2008. Gallup Panel members are recruited through random selection methods. The panel is weighted so that it is demographically representative of the U.S. adult population. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.
For results based on the sample of 523 Democrats and Democratic leaners, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points.
For results based on the sample of 438 Republicans and Republican leaners, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
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