Editor’s note: This is another in a series of “WND/WENZEL POLLS” conducted exclusively for WND by the public-opinion research and media consulting company Wenzel Strategies.
A new poll shows that Republicans as well as independents who vote in GOP primaries say Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rand Paul, R-Ky., are their favorites to be the Republican nominee in the 2016 presidential race.
The high profile of the conservative members of Congress represents a change from the moderate candidates in 2008 and 2012, Sen. John McCain and Gov. Mitt Romney, whose campaigns misfired, according to the poll by Wenzel Strategies.
Pollster Fritz Wenzel said the sentiment is a response to those two election cycles.
“More than two out of three GOP primary voters – 68 percent – said they think that after two consecutive misfires with Republican presidential nominees who were squishee conservatives at best and liberal Republicans at worst, it is likely the 2016 nominee will be more conservative than in the last two cycles,” he said.
The telephone poll of likely GOP primary election voters was done Oct. 21-25 with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.32 percentage points.
Asked to name their choice in the next presidential election, 16 percent chose Cruz and 15.1 percent chose Paul, with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida trailing closely.
Wenzel called it a five-way race, with a mix of three conservatives and two moderates, referring to Christie and Bush.
The second tier is comprised of Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, whose polling support is 13 percent combined.
About 36 percent of respondents said it is very likely the GOP will win, another 33 percent it is somewhat likely and 16.7 percent said it is not likely.
“Given the normal volley that occurs from Democrats to Republicans in the White House after a two-term presidency, Republicans appear optimistic – but by no means certain – that the next president will be a Republican,” Wenzel said.
“While 69 percent of GOP primary election voters say they think it is likely the GOP will win the White House in 2016, 23 percent said they think such a win is either not that likely or not at all likely. That signals a fairly strong sense of uncertainty about the crop of GOP presidential hopefuls or their ability to convince the American voting public that their agenda is right for the country,” he said.
The fact that some 63 percent of Republicans say they are satisfied with their field of candidates thought to be in the running is a little unusual, Wenzel said.
“We haven’t tested this question before, but that seems like a solid base of support on which to build. It is notable that 37 percent are not satisfied, but it is not clear who those dissatisfied voters would like to see in the race. It may also be a reflection of the idea that some people simply cannot bring themselves to think about the presidential campaign this far away from the actual election,” Wenzel said.
He pointed out Obama is not yet one full year into his second term.
“It is interesting to note that while 67 percent of Republicans are satisfied with their choices at this point, just 53 percent of independents agree. And while 70 percent of conservatives are satisfied, just 50 percent of moderates feel the same,” Wenzel noted.
But uncertainty about 2016 remains high.
“Republicans are slightly more likely than independents to think the next GOP nominee will be more conservative than either John McCain or Mitt Romney,” Wenzel said.
And on the other side?
All Hillary, respondents believe.
“Fully 76 percent of Republicans said they expect her to win the nomination, while just 17 percent said they don’t think she will win the Democratic Party nod,” Wenzel said.
“This finding includes all kinds of implications as to how voters will approach the primaries and caucuses in their respective states, as they try to find the single candidate who they think can best counter her candidacy.”
Wenzel said the race for president may well depend on who is able to win the ideological argument about the direction of the country.
“There is no doubt we have arrived and departed from a major fork in the road of our nation’s history, having chosen with the election of Obama a road leading to government socialism,” he said. “The question is: Will America choose to go forward down this path, or backtrack and take the road to a future where individuals have primacy over their own futures, as was envisioned by our founders?”
See detailed results of survey questions:
If you were voting or caucusing today for the Republican nomination for president, and the candidates were Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Rick Santorum, and Scott Walker, for whom would you vote?
Regardless who you just selected for the Republication nominations for president, and regardless of who you think might be the Democratic Party presidential nominee, how likely do you think it is that the Republican candidate for president will win the race for president in 2016?