Poll: 41% of Americans unable to name any GOP candidates
The Pew Research Center has released a new poll showing that 41% of Americans responding are unable to come up with the names of any Republican presidential candidates without prompting. In contrast, only 19% are unable to name even one Democratic candidate.
According to the Pew report, "The Republicans' disengagement, if not disillusionment, with the campaign is borne out by the fact that many more Republicans are able to recall unprompted the names of Democratic frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama than can name Rudy Giuliani and other leading GOP candidates."
Hillary Clinton's name was offered unprompted by 78% of all respondents and Barack Obama's by 62%. However, no more than 45% came up with the name of GOP frontrunner Rudy Giuliani -- and even among Republicans the figure was only 57%.
This level of awareness of Democratic candidates is far beyond what it was at the equivalent point in the 2004 campaign, while the awareness of Republican candidates is generally similar to that in past elections, resulting in what Pew describes as "a sizable partisan gap in campaign interest."
Pew's figures further show that throughout the course of 2007, about half of respondents have indicated they are following news about the candidates either very or fairly closely -- roughly the same as for other major news stories. In the past, that level of interest has developed only with the start of the presidential primaries.
Despite this, 55% of respondents indicated they were finding the presidential campaign "dull" and 66% said elections were "too long," while only 41% consider the press is doing a good or excellent job of covering the campaign.
When asked what particular areas they would like to see better covered by the press, the greatest number, 77%, asked for more about the candidates' positions on issues. By a small margin of 45% to 42%, respondents indicated they would actually like less news on who is leading in the latest polls.
The poll is available in pdf form at this link.