February 23, 2007

Voters Remain In Neutral As Presidential Campaign Moves Into High Gear

Republicans Lag in Engagement and Enthusiasm for Candidates

Section I: An Early Look at the Public’s Preferences

Overall, 52% of Democrats say there is a good chance they will support Clinton, compared with 41% who say there is a good chance they will vote for Obama. Notably, Clinton runs much better than Obama among older Democrats; fully 58% of Democrats ages 65 and older say there is a good chance they will vote for Clinton, compared with just 32% who say the same about Obama.

Clinton also shows strength among African Americans and women. Both Clinton and Obama have greater appeal among black Democrats than among whites; however, significantly more black Democrats say there is a good chance they will vote for Clinton than for Obama (63% vs. 50%).

Obama runs about even with Clinton among male Democrats, and does even better among young men. Obama also has broad appeal among the party’s liberals; more than half (54%) say there is a good chance they will vote for Obama, about the same as the number who say that about Clinton (56%).

In addition, Obama garners significantly greater enthusiasm from highly attentive Democrats than from Democrats who have paid little or no attention to the 2008 campaign. Nearly half of Democrats (48%) who have thought “a lot” or “some” about the campaign say there is a good chance they will vote for Obama; that compares with just 23% of those who have given the campaign less attention.

Republicans Lukewarm about ’08 Field

More Republicans say there is a good chance they will vote for Giuliani than say that about any other GOP candidate (36%). Yet there is no ideological or demographic group in which a majority says there is a good chance they will support the former New York City mayor.

Giuliani demonstrates relatively strong appeal among older Republican men: 45% of Republican men ages 50 and older say there is a good chance they will vote for Giuliani. Giuliani also shows strength among white mainline Protestants (45% good chance).

While Giuliani’s appeal among Republicans is fairly modest at this stage, it still far exceeds that of any other GOP candidate. Just 23% of Republicans say there is a good chance they will vote for McCain and in no subgroup do as many as a third express a strong willingness to support him.

However, McCain does fare a bit better among young Republicans — especially young men — than among other groups. Three-in-ten Republicans under the age of 30 say there is a good chance they will support McCain; by comparison, 24% in that group says the same about Giuliani.