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Gallup Ranks the 2008 Candidates According to a Feeling Thermometer

Obama rated the most positively by Americans; Hillary enjoys broadest partisan support

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Using a "feeling thermometer" rating scale, Gallup recently tested the public images of several of the Republican and Democratic candidates running for president in their respective parties. Of these, only one -- Barack Obama -- stirs up warm feelings in a majority of Americans. However, Rudy Giuliani, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and John McCain are all close to Obama in favorability. Clinton's image is the most polarized of this group: nearly as many Americans say she leaves them cold as say they feel warmly toward her.

This feeling thermometer question, utilized regularly by the National Election Studies, gives respondents a 0 to 100 scale to rate the candidates, where 0 is the coldest score, 100 is the warmest, and 50 is neither warm nor cold. Thus, it not only shows whether a respondent views a candidate positively or negatively, but also the degree to which he or she does so.

According to the Aug. 23-26, 2007, Gallup Panel survey, all five top-reviewed candidates are known well enough by Americans that nearly everyone can rate them. By contrast, the bottom tier candidates -- those with much lower "warm" thermometer scores -- are unknown to a large segment of Americans.

The best positioned of the lower-profile group is newly announced Republican candidate Fred Thompson. Although nearly a third of Americans have never heard of and therefore can't rate Thompson, among those who can, the plurality (30%) feels warmly toward him. Unfortunately for the rest of the Republican field -- including Mitt Romney, Joe Biden, Bill Richardson, Mike Huckabee, and Sam Brownback -- as many Americans feel negatively about these candidates as feel positively.

Despite wide variation in the visibility of the various candidates, their mean thermometer ratings -- based only on respondents who could rate each candidate -- fall in a narrow range between 45.7 degrees and 55.6 degrees, including five who earn mean scores above the 50-degree mark. None are wildly popular among the public at large, and none are terribly unpopular.

Summary of Thermometer Ratings
Based on National Adults

Total warm
(51°-100°)

Neutral
(50°)

Total cold
(0°-49°)

Never
heard of/
No opinion

Mean

%

%

%

%

 

Barack Obama (Dem.)

53

14

28

5

55.6

Rudy Giuliani (Rep.)

50

15

31

4

53.1

Hillary Clinton (Dem.)

49

8

44

*

48.7

John Edwards (Dem.)

47

15

32

5

50.9

John McCain (Rep.)

44

19

32

6

51.2

Fred Thompson (Rep.)

30

18

21

31

52.0

Mitt Romney (Rep.)

27

22

31

20

48.0

Joe Biden (Dem.)

22

20

24

33

46.6

Bill Richardson (Dem.)

20

22

18

40

48.7

Mike Huckabee (Rep.)

17

16

14

53

49.8

Sam Brownback (Rep.)

9

18

14

59

44.7

Ratings Within the Parties

The ratings in the charts are at the national level. While the resulting picture could have important long-term implications for the general election, as well as play a role in which 2008 presidential nominee each party chooses, the more pressing concern is how the candidates are perceived within their own party.

On this basis, Hillary Clinton springs to the top of both packs of candidates. Nationally, 82% of Democrats rate her warmly, which is higher than the other most positively rated Democrats: Barack Obama with 72% and John Edwards with 68%. Biden and Richardson receive much lower warm ratings from members of their own party, mostly because a large segment of Democrats says they have never heard of either candidate.

Factoring out respondents who can't rate each candidate, all five candidates' mean thermometer scores among Democrats are in the warm range, ranging from 53.1 degrees for Richardson to 71.6 degrees for Clinton.

Thermometer Ratings of Democratic Candidates
Based on U.S. Democrats

Total warm
(51
°-100°)

Neutral (50 °)

Total cold
(0
°-49°)

Never heard of/
No opinion

Mean

%

%

%

%

 

Hillary Clinton

82

6

12

--

71.6

Barack Obama

72

11

11

5

69.1

John Edwards

68

16

13

4

64.3

Joe Biden

31

20

18

31

54.0

Bill Richardson

25

19

13

42

53.1

Clinton's image among Democrats also exceeds how members of the Republican Party perceive the top-rated Republican candidates. Giuliani leads the Republican field in partisan favorability with 70% of Republicans saying they have warm feelings toward him. This drops down to 57% for McCain, followed by 51% for Thompson, 45% for Romney, and even lower for Huckabee and Brownback.

Thermometer Ratings of Republicans Candidates
Based on U.S. Republicans

Total warm (51 °-100°)

Neutral (50 °)

Total cold (0 °-49°)

Never heard of/No opinion

Mean

%

%

%

%

 

Rudy Giuliani

70

11

14

5

64.4

John McCain

57

16

21

6

59.0

Fred Thompson

51

11

9

29

66.3

Mitt Romney

45

18

16

21

60.2

Mike Huckabee

30

15

6

49

62.5

Sam Brownback

15

18

8

59

53.0

Another indication of the personal popularity of the leading presidential contenders comes from a recent poll question that asks respondents who they would most like to have dinner with among the top seven candidates across both parties. The results underscore Clinton's strength within the Democratic Party, and the fact that the Republicans lack a similarly dominant character on their side. Given a choice of Clinton, Obama, Giuliani, Thompson, McCain, Edwards, and Romney, the slight plurality of Americans -- 26% -- say they would most like to dine with Clinton. She edges out Obama with 20%, but is well ahead of Giuliani and other Republicans.

Naturally, Democrats are most likely to name a Democratic candidate for their dining partner, and Republicans are most likely to name a Republican. However, Clinton dominates among Democrats with 47% choosing her, compared with 31% choosing Obama and 12% choosing Edwards. Republicans' selection is much more dispersed with Giuliani only slightly favored over Thompson (27% vs. 22%).

If you had to choose, which of the following presidential candidates would you most want to have dinner with
-- [ROTATED: Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney]?

 

Total

 

Republicans

 

Independents

 

Democrats

 

%

%

%

%

Hillary Clinton

26

8

22

47

Barack Obama

20

10

20

31

Rudy Giuliani

16

27

18

3

Fred Thompson

12

22

13

3

John McCain

9

16

8

4

John Edwards

9

3

11

12

Mitt Romney

6

12

4

*

 

 

 

 

No opinion

2

3

2

1

       

Bottom Line

Of the leading candidates running for president in both major parties -- those currently vying for first or second place for their party's nomination -- all but one earns a mean thermometer score of better than 50% from Americans who can rate them. This includes Obama and Edwards on the Democratic side, and Giuliani, McCain, and Thompson on the Republican side. While Hillary Clinton's warm ratings are higher than those of Edwards and McCain, her relatively high cold ratings suppress her overall mean score, pushing it below the 50-degree mark.

All this suggests that Obama, Edwards, Giuliani, and McCain are slightly better positioned than Clinton to win the fall election and to earn popular support from Americans should they be elected president. Thompson technically falls into this auspicious group given his warm mean thermometer score; however, he is not widely known enough to project these figures onto the public.

Clinton's strength is within her own party. Among Democrats she is the most well-liked candidate, and the one most Democrats would prefer to meet personally over dinner. These findings are consistent with Gallup trial heat polling showing her as the clear front-runner over Obama for the Democratic nomination. Giuliani is not nearly as dominant within the Republican Party on these measures as Clinton is among Democrats. That, too, is reflected in his performance in trial heats for the Republican nomination, where he has a relatively narrow lead over his Republican opponents.

Survey Methods

Results for this panel study are based on telephone interviews with 1,001 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Aug. 23-26, 2007. Respondents were randomly drawn from Gallup's nationally representative household panel, which was originally recruited through random selection methods. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 321 Republicans, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±7 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 359 independents, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±6 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 316 Democrats, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±7 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.

Next, I'd like to get your feelings toward some people who have been in the news.

4. I'll read the name of a person and I'd like you to rate that person using something called the feeling thermometer. You can choose any number between 0 and 100. The higher the number, the warmer or more favorable you feel toward that person; the lower the number, the colder or less favorable. You would rate the person at the 50-degree mark if you feel neither warm nor cold toward them. If we come to a person whose name YOU DON'T RECOGNIZE, you don't need to rate that person. Just tell me and we'll move on to the next one. How about -- [RANDOM ORDER]?


Total


Republicans


Independents


Democrats

2007 Aug 23-26
(based by Mean)

Very warm


Mean

Very warm


Mean

Very warm


Mean

Very warm


Mean

%

 

%

 

%

 

%

 

Barack Obama

29

55.6

10

40.6

27

56.6

49

69.1

Rudy Giuliani

24

53.1

37

64.4

23

51.1

13

44.6

Fred Thompson

16

52.0

32

66.3

14

48.8

4

41.0

John McCain

16

51.2

24

59.0

16

48.7

10

46.8

John Edwards

23

50.9

5

35.7

21

51.7

42

64.3

Mike Huckabee

7

49.8

15

62.5

5

44.9

3

42.2

Hillary Clinton

31

48.7

6

25.2

27

48.5

59

71.6

Bill Richardson

7

48.7

2

43.2

6

49.9

12

53.1

Mitt Romney

14

48.0

25

60.2

11

45.2

5

39.4

Joe Biden

9

46.6

3

37.7

8

46.8

16

54.0

Sam Brownback

3

44.7

7

53.0

2

43.3

*

38.3

Full Results

A. Sam Brownback

 

Very cold
(0°-24°)

Moderately cold
(25°-29°)


Neutral
(50°)

Moderately warm
(51°-74°)


Very warm
(75°-100°)

Never heard of/
no opinion



Mean

2007 Aug 23-26

%

%

%

%

%

%

 

Total

7

7

18

6

3

59

44.7

Republicans

3

5

18

8

7

59

53.0

Independents

8

8

18

5

2

59

43.3

Democrats

9

9

17

4

*

60

38.3

B. Rudy Giuliani

 

Very cold
(0°-24°)

Moderately cold
(25°-29°)


Neutral
(50°)

Moderately warm
(51°-74°)


Very warm
(75°-100°)

Never heard of/
no opinion



Mean

2007 Aug 23-26

%

%

%

%

%

%

 

Total

15

16

15

26

24

4

53.1

Republicans

5

9

11

33

37

5

64.4

Independents

16

16

18

22

23

4

51.1

Democrats

22

24

13

24

13

4

44.6

C. Mike Huckabee

 

Very cold
(0°-24°)

Moderately cold
(25°-29°)


Neutral
(50°)

Moderately warm
(51°-74°)


Very warm
(75°-100°)

Never heard of/
no opinion



Mean

2007 Aug 23-26

%

%

%

%

%

%

 

Total

6

8

16

10

7

53

49.8

Republicans

2

4

15

15

15

49

62.5

Independents

9

9

14

8

5

55

44.9

Democrats

8

12

19

6

3

52

42.2

D. John McCain

 

Very cold
(0°-24°)

Moderately cold
(25°-29°)


Neutral
(50°)

Moderately warm
(51°-74°)


Very warm
(75°-100°)

Never heard of/
no opinion



Mean

2007 Aug 23-26

%

%

%

%

%

%

 

Total

13

19

19

28

16

6

51.2

Republicans

5

16

16

33

24

6

59.0

Independents

18

15

21

24

16

6

48.7

Democrats

15

25

19

27

10

4

46.8

E. Mitt Romney        

 

Very cold
(0°-24°)

Moderately cold
(25°-29°)


Neutral
(50°)

Moderately warm
(51°-74°)


Very warm
(75°-100°)

Never heard of/
no opinion



Mean

2007 Aug 23-26

%

%

%

%

%

%

 

Total

13

18

22

13

14

20

48.0

Republicans

3

13

18

20

25

21

60.2

Independents

15

19

25

12

11

17

45.2

Democrats

20

21

22

9

5

23

39.4

F. Fred Thompson

 

Very cold
(0°-24°)

Moderately cold
(25°-29°)


Neutral
(50°)

Moderately warm
(51°-74°)


Very warm
(75°-100°)

Never heard of/
no opinion



Mean

2007 Aug 23-26

%

%

%

%

%

%

 

Total

10

11

18

14

16

31

52.0

Republicans

2

7

11

19

32

29

66.3

Independents

12

12

21

13

14

29

48.8

Democrats

16

13

21

12

4

34

41.0

G. Joe Biden

 

Very cold
(0°-24°)

Moderately cold
(25°-29°)


Neutral
(50°)

Moderately warm
(51°-74°)


Very warm
(75°-100°)

Never heard of/
no opinion



Mean

2007 Aug 23-26

%

%

%

%

%

%

 

Total

11

13

20

13

9

33

46.6

Republicans

16

16

17

9

3

39

37.7

Independents

12

12

23

15

8

30

46.8

Democrats

6

12

20

15

16

31

54.0

H. Hillary Clinton

 

Very cold
(0°-24°)

Moderately cold
(25°-29°)


Neutral
(50°)

Moderately warm
(51°-74°)


Very warm
(75°-100°)

Never heard of/
no opinion



Mean

2007 Aug 23-26

%

%

%

%

%

%

 

Total

29

15

8

18

31

*

48.7

Republicans

57

21

5

10

6

--

25.2

Independents

25

17

11

21

27

*

48.5

Democrats

5

7

6

23

59

--

71.6

I. John Edwards

 

Very cold
(0°-24°)

Moderately cold
(25°-29°)


Neutral
(50°)

Moderately warm
(51°-74°)


Very warm
(75°-100°)

Never heard of/
no opinion



Mean

2007 Aug 23-26

%

%

%

%

%

%

 

Total

19

13

15

24

23

5

50.9

Republicans

34

22

15

19

5

5

35.7

Independents

17

13

15

28

21

5

51.7

Democrats

8

5

16

26

42

4

64.3

J. Barack Obama

 

Very cold
(0°-24°)

Moderately cold
(25°-29°)


Neutral
(50°)

Moderately warm
(51°-74°)


Very warm
(75°-100°)

Never heard of/
no opinion



Mean

2007 Aug 23-26

%

%

%

%

%

%

 

Total

14

14

14

24

29

5

55.6

Republicans

28

24

14

20

10

5

40.6

Independents

11

12

17

27

27

5

56.6

Democrats

5

6

11

23

49

5

69.1

K. Bill Richardson

 

Very cold
(0°-24°)

Moderately cold
(25°-29°)


Neutral
(50°)

Moderately warm
(51°-74°)


Very warm
(75°-100°)

Never heard of/
no opinion



Mean

2007 Aug 23-26

%

%

%

%

%

%

 

Total

7

11

22

13

7

40

48.7

Republicans

10

15

23

10

2

40

43.2

Independents

6

11

23

15

6

39

49.9

Democrats

6

7

19

13

12

42

53.1

Gallup


Gallup https://news.gallup.com/poll/28639/gallup-ranks-2008-candidates-according-feeling-thermometer.aspx
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