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GOP Voters Put A Bit More Faith in Candidate’s Private Sector Experience

Republican voters want to have it both ways: They like a presidential candidate with business and government experience but rate life in the private sector as slightly more important.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Republican Primary Voters finds that 92% consider a candidate’s experience in the private sector as at least somewhat important in terms of deciding how they will vote in the GOP primary, with 52% who rate it as Very Important. Just seven percent (7%) see private sector experience as not very or not at all important to their primary vote. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Similarly, 82% say a candidate’s experience in government is at least somewhat important in determining how they will vote in the primary. But just 40% view that experience as Very Important. For 17%, government experience is not an important factor in deciding how to vote, but only four percent (4%) say it’s Not At All Important.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Georgia businessman Herman Cain are the only two announced GOP presidential candidates with extensive business experience as both men have noted repeatedly in their campaigning and debates. All the announced candidates but Cain have prominent government experience on their resumes.

Texas Governor Rick Perry, the new face in the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, has jumped to a double-digit lead over Romney and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann among GOP primary voters with the other announced candidates trailing even further behind.  Cain runs in fifth place with six percent (6%) support.

A candidate’s experience in government and the private sector are rated almost dead even among all likely voters in terms of determining how they will vote for president.  Democrats put more emphasis on a presidential candidate’s government experience, while Republicans and voters not affiliated with either party value private sector experience more.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely GOP Primary Voters was conducted on August 15, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. Likely GOP Primary Voters include both Republicans and unaffiliated voters likely to vote in a GOP Primary. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC . See methodology.

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