Posted by | February 15, 2011 13:41 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

The conventional wisdom is that the field of Republican candidates is weak.  But Nate Silver is not one to trust conventional wisdom.  He analyzes the popularity ratings of the leading Republican contenders and compares them with candidates in 2000, 2004, and 2008, 18-24 months before the election.  And lo and behold, the conventional wisdom is right!

So it does look like Republicans have some legitimate reason to worry. In the previous five competitive primaries — excluding 2004 for the Republicans, when Mr. Bush won re-nomination uncontested — each party had at least two candidates whose net favorability ratings were in the positive double digits, meaning that their favorables bettered their unfavorables by at least 10 points. All five times, also, the nominee came from among one of the candidates in this group. Republicans have no such candidates at this point in time.

Meanwhile, the Republicans have two candidates in Ms. Palin and Mr. Gingirch whose net favorability ratings are actually  in the double-digit negatives, something which since 2000 had only been true of Pat Buchanan and Al Sharpton.

Governor Huckabee does the best with a +8 favorability rating but even that is lower than President Obama’s plus ten rating.  A lot can change over the next year-and-a-half but the Republicans have a tremendous uphill battle ahead of them (thankfully!).

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.