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Bush vs. Romney, and the Winner Among GOP Voters Is…

Thursday, January 22, 2015

For most voters, it’s the battle of the best-known last names on the Republican side. For many GOP voters, it’s the battle of the moderates seeking the party’s 2016 presidential nomination. Call it what you will: Right now, Mitt Romney holds a double-digit lead over Jeb Bush in a head-to-head matchup.

If the 2016 Republican presidential primary were held in their state right now and Romney and Bush were the only names on the ballot, 49% of Likely Republican Voters would choose the party’s 2012 presidential nominee, while 32% would opt instead for the former Florida governor. But a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that a sizable 19% are undecided given only these two candidates to choose from. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Tomorrow, we’ll give you a better picture of how the 2016 Republican field looks at this early stage when we open up the ballot to some of the other prominent hopefuls.

It’s clear that Bush who has a more expansive take on immigration reform than many in his own party and who is also a champion of the Common Core national education standards is unpopular with conservative Republicans. He trails Romney 51% to 30% among conservatives and 49% to 31% among party moderates. Bush leads 55% to 35% among self-identified liberal Republicans.

In a survey in late December, though, only 42% of Likely GOP Voters thought Romney should run again in 2016, and even fewer (33%) felt Bush should throw his hat in the ring. Twenty-eight percent (28%) said they are less likely to vote for Bush because his father and brother have both served as president, while 22% said that made them more likely to vote for him.

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The survey of 787 Likely Republican Voters was conducted on January 18-19, 2015 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Sixty percent (60%) of Republican voters think their party should look for a fresh face to run for president in 2016. With a Bush or a Clinton running in every presidential race since 1988, 41% of all voters are worried that the United States is developing an unofficial group of royal families with too much influence over government and politics.

Among likely Republican voters, Romney leads Bush by double-digit margins in most demographic groups.

Among Republicans who want Congress to stop President Obama’s plan to protect up to five million illegal immigrants from deportation, Romney leads 54% to 29%. Bush holds a 48% to 25% lead among GOP voters who want to let Obama’s action stand.

Republicans who think Americans are overtaxed favor Romney by 23 points. GOP voters who don’t think Americans are overtaxed are evenly divided between the two candidates.

For Republicans who agree with Ronald Reagan that big government is the problem, Romney is the clear favorite. Among those who believe big government is the solution, Bush has a two-point edge.

Older Republicans are more likely to be undecided than those under 40.

As recently as November, 70% of Republican voters identified themselves as fiscal conservatives, while 26% said they were moderates. Just two percent (2%) considered themselves liberal. When it comes to social issues, 58% said they were conservative, 32% moderate and eight percent (8%) liberal. 

Hillary Clinton remains the heavy favorite for her party’s presidential nomination in 2016.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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