- 78% think at least one current 2020 candidate would be a good president
- 66% say the candidates have good ideas for solving the country's problems
- 74% say they have a good idea about what the candidates stand for
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Majorities of Americans think that at least one current 2020 candidate would be a good president (78%), has good ideas for solving the country's problems (66%) and is talking about the issues that they personally care about (64%). Most U.S. adults also say they have a good idea about what the candidates stand for (74%) and that it makes a real difference to them who is elected president (84%).
This general positivity toward the presidential candidate field is tempered by one recurrent finding -- a majority of Americans (56%) do not think the election process is working as it should.
These measures, which have been tracked periodically by Gallup since 1992, were most recently included in a Jan. 16-29 poll. The latest findings are among the most positive recorded (compared with other surveys conducted before the Iowa caucuses), particularly looking at the previous two election cycles.
Most Americans See a Good Potential President in the Race
The 78% of Americans who think there is at least one candidate who would make a good president is the highest since 2008, when slightly more, 83%, held the same view. The 75% reading in 2000 is also similar to the latest figure.
Unlike this year, however, both major parties were nominating a candidate in 2000 and 2008, and there were popular candidates on both sides. In 2016, the last time there were races in both parties, 66% of Americans said they thought there was at least one good candidate in the mix. And before the 2012 Iowa caucuses -- when a large field of Republicans competed to challenge President Barack Obama -- far fewer Americans, 48%, viewed the candidates positively.
Currently, Democrats (87%) and Republicans (83%) are nearly equally likely to think there is a candidate in the race who would make a good president, but fewer independents (69%) agree. Independents have historically been less likely than Democrats and Republicans to agree that there is a candidate in the race with good presidential potential.
All three partisan groups were slightly less likely in 2016 than they are now to agree (72% of Democrats, 75% of Republicans and 56% of independents) -- yet they were even less so before the 2012 election (46% of Democrats, 59% of Republicans, 42% of independents).
Majority of Americans Say Candidates Discuss Issues They Care About
Nearly two-thirds of Americans currently say the presidential candidates are talking about issues that they care about, at the high end of readings taken in previous elections prior to the Iowa caucuses. The five readings taken between 1992 and 2020 range from 54% to the latest 64%.
Democrats (82%) are much more likely than Republicans (55%) and independents (59%) to say the candidates are talking about issues they care about.
Americans Say the Stakes Are High in the Presidential Race
While majorities have said it makes a real difference to them who is elected president each of the five times the question has been asked before the first contest in the presidential nominating process, they have become more likely to agree in recent years as political polarization has increased.
Broad majorities of all three partisan groups now say it makes a real difference who is elected president -- 95% of Republicans, 89% of Democrats and 74% of independents.
Candidates' Issues Stances and Potential Solutions Viewed Positively
Gallup has asked two of these questions less frequently than the others, but the latest readings for both are more positive than in the past.
- Americans are more likely now (66%) than they were in 2012 (42%) and 1992 (29%) to say the candidates have good ideas for solving the country's problems. This includes 76% of Democrats, 62% of Republicans and 63% of independents.
- Likewise, the 74% of Americans who say they have a good idea about what the candidates stand for is nearly 30 percentage points higher than it was in 1992 (46%). Republicans are most likely to say they have a good idea what the candidates stand for, at 86%, versus 73% of Democrats and 67% of independents.
Negative Views of Election Process Enduring
This year marks the third consecutive presidential election in which a majority of Americans say that the election process is not working as it should. In late 2007, the public was divided, and in 2000, 57% thought it was working the right way.
A 56% majority of Republicans, but far fewer Democrats (37%) and independents (39%), say the election process is working as it should now. Given the problems with this year's Democratic caucuses in Iowa, Democrats may now be even less likely to say the process is working.
Americans are enthusiastic about the 2020 campaign, and the latest findings show that they are personally invested in the outcome, as most say it makes a real difference to them who is elected president. While the Democratic field has yet to narrow considerably, most U.S. adults think either President Donald Trump or one of the Democratic candidates would make a good president. For now, the American public has positive feelings toward the campaign and the field of candidates. Once it becomes a two-person race, that positivity can fade (as it did in 2016) depending on Americans' satisfaction with the remaining candidates.
Learn more about public opinion metrics that matter for the 2020 presidential election at Gallup's 2020 Presidential Election Center.