A huge majority of Republican voters prefer an outsider candidate to one with experience in Washington, and most see political rookies Donald Trump and Ben Carson as possible general election winners, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll.
Carson tops the field as the most positively viewed candidate among Republicans, the poll shows.
Some things to know about opinions on the Republican field from the AP-GfK survey.
GOP HIGH ON CARSON
Carson is the candidate viewed most positively by Republican registered voters in the poll, with 65 percent giving him a favorable rating. Just 13 percent say they have an unfavorable opinion of the retired neurosurgeon.
Nearly 6 in 10 Republican voters — 58 percent — have a favorable opinion of Trump. But the billionaire real estate mogul has relatively high unfavorable ratings within his own party, too, at 36 percent.
Jeb Bush is another candidate struggling to tamp down negative opinions within his own party: 48 percent of Republican voters say they have a positive opinion and 37 percent have a negative opinion of the former Florida governor.
Aside from Carson, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former technology executive Carly Fiorina are the candidates with the widest gap between their favorable and unfavorable ratings, 51 percent to 20 percent for Rubio and 47 percent to 19 percent for Fiorina. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is next, viewed favorably by 48 percent and unfavorably by 26 percent.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is the least well-liked of the candidates among Republican voters, with 4 in 10 rating him positively and 4 in 10 rating him negatively.
MOST WANT AN OUTSIDER
By an overwhelming 77 percent to 22 percent margin, Republican registered voters say they prefer an outsider candidate who will change how things are done, rather than someone with experience in Washington who can get things done.
Similarly, they prefer someone with private-sector leadership experience over experience holding elected office, 76 percent to 22 percent.
By contrast, two-thirds of Democratic voters prefer experience in Washington over outsider status.
REPUBLICANS SEE TRUMP AS BEST SHOT
Seven in 10 Republicans and Republican-leaning registered voters say they think Trump could win in November 2016 if he were nominated; that’s the most of any Republican candidate.
Slightly fewer — about 6 in 10 — say they think either Carson or Bush could win a general election.
Rubio is the only other candidate viewed as electable by a majority of Republican voters, at 54 percent, while 47 percent think of Fiorina as a possible November winner.
The poll found that many GOP candidates, including Christie, Huckabee, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are viewed as electable by well under half of Republicans.
Close to 7 in 10 Republican voters say they think Hillary Rodham Clinton could win if she were nominated by the Democratic party.
AMERICANS NOT SEEING GOP VICTORY
Among all people in the U.S., less than half view any of the Republican candidates as people who could win a general election. Bush and Trump are both seen as possible winners by 48 percent of Americans. That’s more than say so for any other Republican candidate, but far less than the 75 percent who say that Clinton could win the election if she is nominated on the Democratic side.
Among Democratic registered voters, only one-third think Trump could win and one-quarter think Carson could. Nearly half see Bush as a general election opponent who could emerge victorious.
NOT HIGH ON EITHER PARTY’S CANDIDATES
Among those questioned, every Republican candidate except Carson is viewed in a more negative than positive light.
Just 31 percent of respondents have a favorable view of Trump, while 57 percent have an unfavorable view. More have an unfavorable than a favorable view of Bush, 48 percent to 26 percent.
Opinions on Carson are about evenly split: 32 percent favorable, 31 percent unfavorable, 33 percent have no opinion.
Rubio is also still largely an unknown name to people, with negative opinions outnumbering positive ones, 33 percent to 23 percent, but 4 in 10 still saying they don’t know enough to have an opinion.
The poll shows that Clinton is also viewed more unfavorably than favorably, 48 percent to 41 percent. Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, like Carson, splits the public evenly, 32 percent favorable to 30 percent unfavorable, while 35 percent have no opinion.
The AP-GfK Poll of 1,027 adults was conducted online Oct. 15 to Oct. 19, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.
Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.