Yesterday, Roger L. Simon summarized the results of a PJ Media-sponsored poll which compared the four contending Republican candidates in head-to-head matchups with Barack Obama. (Topline results here.) The survey of 800 registered voters, conducted by the firm CrossTarget, also looked at potential matchups of various candidates who could be late entrants into the race — or consensus choices at a deadlocked convention — versus President Obama. The alternative candidates included Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
The poll, conducted February 21 and 22, produced generally more favorable numbers for the GOP candidates than some other surveys conducted contemporaneously.
An examination of the crosstabs (see below) indicates that an equal number of those participating in the survey identified as Democrats and Republicans. In surveys that have produced the most favorable numbers for President Obama, the number of Democrats has exceeded the number of Republicans, sometimes by ratios of four to three.
The racial/ethnic makeup of the survey: 70% white, 11% African American, 11% Hispanic, and 8% other. The GOP candidate always won the white vote and always lost the votes of every other group in the survey.
In 2008, national exit poll results indicated that John McCain won with whites by 12% (55% to 43%), but lost badly among African Americans (95% to 4%), Hispanics (68% to 31%), and Asian Americans, also by two to one. In that year, whites made up about 74% of the vote, African Americans about 13%, Hispanics about 9%, and all others 4%.
In 2010, the Republicans won big gains in Congress, improving their vote share among all groups but particularly among white voters: whites picked GOP candidates for Congress by 23% (61% to 38%) according to exit polls.
The new survey indicates that GOP candidates are underperforming compared to the party’s strong 2010 level among white voters, but doing far better than in 2008 among minority voters (see below).
The GOP vote share among African American voters ranges from 14% for Mitt Romney to 23% for Condi Rice. The recent high vote share in the African American community for a GOP presidential candidate went to George W. Bush in 2004, with 11%. Given an overall margin of error for the entire survey of plus or minus 3.46%, the margin of error for a subgroup in the survey such as African Americans or Hispanics (fewer than 100 surveyed in each case) is much larger. If the African American vote share turns out again to be 13% and not 11%, and Obama’s share of this vote among African Americans is 10-15% higher than suggested by this survey, the overall results would be significantly more favorable for Barack Obama.
The story is the same among Hispanics, where Romney, Santorum, and Paul lose to Obama by roughly three to two, and the other candidates by closer to two to one.
Among white voters, Santorum scores the best, winning about three-fifths of the white vote, and Condi Rice does almost as well. Some of the GOP candidates that were tested and not presently in the race — Paul Ryan and Mitch Daniels — barely win a plurality among white voters, suggesting they are far less well-known than the other named candidates. There are also more undecided voters in matchups involving Republican candidates who are not in the race, and a higher share of undecided voters among all groups besides African Americans.
The bad news for Republicans is that Obama wins a higher share of Republican voters than the GOP candidate does among Democratic voters for every GOP candidate tested.
Only Condi Rice wins about the same share of Democrats as she loses among Republicans. These results mirror the 2008 numbers, when there were more GOP defectors to Obama than there were Democrats who shifted to McCain (even accounting for “blue dogs” in the South, who remain registered Democrats but consistently vote Republican at the presidential level).
The best news for Republicans is that GOP candidates poll well among independent voters, now almost a third of the electorate (30% in the CrossTarget survey). Romney, Santorum, Paul, Christie, and Rice all win among independents (Rice and Christie most decisively), and Gingrich, Ryan, Daniels, and Jeb Bush break even with Obama in this voter group. Obama won among independents in 2008, and independents are expected to be the key to victory in many of the toss-up states this time around.
In general, Condoleezza Rice shows the most consistent appeal among all groups, though she is the longest of shots to be the nominee given her own disinterest in running and the circumstances that would need to occur to allow a non-competing candidate to emerge at a deadlocked convention. Among the four candidates in the race, Santorum runs a bit ahead of Romney, and Paul and then Gingrich are slightly further back in matchups with Obama.
Crosstab 4X14: Republicans underperforming within their own party and breakdown of independent vote.
Crosstab head-to-head (minority groups).