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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What America Thinks: For White House Hopefuls, What’s in a Name?

Presidential politics at this early stage of the game is all about getting to know you. Matchups between longtime public figures and political newcomers are predictably lop-sided. That’s why Rasmussen Reports regularly tracks the opinions voters have of candidates, with particular emphasis on the number who don’t know enough about a candidate to venture even a soft opinion. So how do voters feel about the announced 2016 presidential candidates so far? We decided to find out what America thinks.

On the Democratic side, the only announced candidate is Hillary Clinton, who’s been in the public eye for nearly 25 years as first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of State. Just five percent (5%) of all voters have no opinion of Clinton. The three announced Republican presidential hopefuls, on the other hand, have a ways to go. Twenty-six percent (26%) have no opinion of Texas Senator Ted Cruz, the first official GOP candidate in the race.

You’d think Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky might have a slight advantage in the name game because of his father Ron Paul’s national profile. Not so. Twenty-two percent (22%) still say they don’t know enough about the junior Paul to venture an opinion of him.

This helps explain why Clinton leads Cruz 47% to 38% in a presidential matchup and holds an almost identical lead over Paul. In both cases, roughly 15% of voters prefer some other candidate or are undecided. It’s primarily those voters who are in play as the candidates get better known.

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is the latest Republican in the race, and 24% don’t have an opinion of him - yet.

At this stage, it remains to be seen if a president is built on a name alone, or if some of the newcomers have a chance to overtake the big names all the way to the White House.

For Rasmussen Reports, I’m Alex Boyer. Remember, if it’s in the news, it’s in our polls.