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Gallup: Twice As Many Conservatives

Twice as many Americans interviewed so far this year in national Gallup surveys say they are conservative, rather than liberal. Even with the recent election of a liberal president who won 60 percent of the moderate vote -- and a fifth of the conservative vote -- the number of self-described conservatives has increased this year.

Gallup reports that 40 percent of interviewees this year said they were conservative, 35 percent moderate and 21 percent liberal. The number of conservatives hasn't shifted much in the last two decades -- from 1996 through 2004, between 39 and 40 percent described themselves as conservative -- though that number had dropped to 37 percent over the last three years.

While two-fifths of the population says it's conservative, more Americans consider themselves either Democrats or independents than Republicans. Interviews this year found that 37 percent are independents, 36 percent Democrats and 28 percent Republicans.

Gallup: Dems Lead Party ID Among All Age Groups

Gallup released an interesting report and accompanying chart showing party identification by age. At every age, more people currently identify themselves as Democrats than Republicans. The biggest contrast is among the youngest voters -- Millennials -- and Baby Boomers in their 50s and early 60s.

Perhaps the most interesting line of data: The number of people identifying themselves as independents gradually decreases as age increases. It's not hard to figure that younger voters still haven't found exactly where they fit, while older voters are less likely to stray from their solidified views.

The data comes from more than 123,000 interviews conducted between Jan. 5 and March 3.

5-8-09_Gallup Age Party ID.gif

5-8-09_Gallup Partisan Gap By Generation.gif

KY Sen.: Bunning Unpopular, Trails All Potential Dems

A new poll finds that Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) would be vulnerable against a number of potential Democratic candidates in 2010, giving more ammunition to those Republicans who hope to field a new candidate in the Bluegrass State.

A Public Policy Polling survey also finds that the two-term incumbent has just a 28 percent approval rating, with 54 percent disapproving. Republican Secretary of State Trey Grayson, mentioned as the most likely Bunning alternative for the GOP, has a fav/unfav rating of 46/19, with 36 percent unsure. The survey was conducted on April 2 and 3, surveying 610 voters. The margin of error is +/- 4 percent.

Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo, who narrowly lost to Bunning in 2004 when he was a little-known state senator, is the only Democrat officially running. But the poll also tests Bunning against state Aud. Crit Luallen, Atty. Gen. Jack Conway, and U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler.

General Election Matchups
(All / Dem / GOP / Ind)
Chandler 47 / 71 / 22 / 28
Bunning 33 / 14 / 54 / 41

Conway 42 / 64 / 16 / 28
Bunning 33 / 14 / 54 / 43

Luallen 42 / 64 / 18 / 22
Bunning 34 / 13 / 56 / 48

Mongiardo 43 / 66 / 17 / 30
Bunning 36 / 14 / 61 / 43

Bunning 28 / 54
Grayson 46 / 19
Williams 28 / 41

Chandler 38 / 28
Conway 40 / 21
Luallen 43 / 21
Mongiardo 41 / 34

After the jump, see matchups that include Greyson or State Senate President David Williams (R) as Republican candidates.

Continue reading "KY Sen.: Bunning Unpopular, Trails All Potential Dems" »

FL Poll: Half Would Consider Crist For Senate

A new Mason Dixon poll conducted for the SayfieReview shows that Gov. Charlie Crist (R) would be a formidable candidate if he were to seek Florida's open U.S. Senate seat in 2010.

Half of Florida voters said they would consider voting for the first-term incumbent, should he seek the seat, with another 17 percent saying he would definitely have their vote. But 26 percent said they definitely would not vote for Crist, while 7 percent were undecided. Notably, 12 percent of Democrats said they would definitely vote for Crist, though the poll did not provide any matchups with potential candidates.

If Crist decides to run to replace Mel Martinez in the U.S. Senate, the poll finds Florida voters evenly split on who they'd like to see replace Crist as governor. The poll tested Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum and Democrat Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink as candidates.

General Election Matchup
McCollum 36
Sink 35
Undecided 29

McCollum had slightly stronger support among fellow Republicans than Sink showed among Democrats, though she does have a modest lead among independent voters, 40-34 percent.

Crist has not yet indicated whether he'll seek re-election or run for Senate. Rep. Connie Mack (R), thought to have been a likely Senate candidate before speculation grew about Crist, took himself out of the race just yesterday. Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) is among the Democrats already running for Senate; he announced raising $1.5 million in the first quarter.

The poll tested 625 Florida registered voters between March 30 and April 1, and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

The Beer-Wine Divide

Still nursing a post-St. Patrick's Day hangover? Depending on your choice of tipple, you may be more predisposed toward voting a certain way, a new poll finds. It seems self-explanatory: Chug a beer and you probably favor John McCain. Sip a fine merlot and you're probably going to cast a ballot for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. But it's always fun when someone actually surveys the country.

The poll, taken 3/14-16, surveyed 1,019 adults about their choice of beverage and their choice of candidate. Opinion Research Corporation conducted the poll on behalf of CNN, with McCain, Obama and Clinton tested. 28% of respondents said they prefer beer to wine, while 31% prefer smashed grapes to malted hops. An astonishing (and hardly believable) 41% said they never drink. Among the subsamples of wine and beer drinkers, the margins of error are +/- 6.5%. Among the total sample, the margin of error is +/- 3%.

General Election Matchups
(All / Beer / Wine)
Obama 47 / 48 / 53 (-5 from last, 2/1-3)
McCain 46 / 50 / 42 (+2)

Clinton 49 / 46 / 54 (-1)
McCain 47 / 53 / 42 (nc)

What can we learn from wine and beer drinkers? The most obvious conclusion is that those who don't drink are more likely to oppose a Democrat, as is most evident in Obama's numbers: He polls better than the sample as a whole among guzzlers of both beverages, meaning his numbers among non-drinkers must be considerably smaller.

One might assume that wine drinkers are more likely to be women while beer consumers are probably men, hence Clinton's larger "tipple gap" and McCain's strong performance among hops lovers. But we can only speculate, as those cross-tabs aren't readily available.

We initially wondered why those who prefer shots of Jagermeister weren't surveyed, but then we recalled that those people are most likely to be campaign staffers and journalists, and those types tend to be the first ones kicked out of a polling sample.

Poll Has Dems In Good Spot

A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows Democrats are in generally good position to expand their Congressional majority, but that the emerging Republican talking point that this year will be an anti-incumbent year is more than just a pretty excuse.

The Democratic Party is in better position that Republicans, validating talk of a GOP branding problem. 45% of voters see the Democratic Party in a positive light, while 35% see them negatively. Just 34% see the Republican Party in a positive way, while 49% say they view the GOP negatively.

Americans also want a Democratic Congress by wide margins, favoring that outcome by a 14-point margin, 49%-35%. That margin is down a point from the last time pollsters asked the question, just days before the 2006 election. Essentially unchanged, that means Democrats are preferred now, after more than a year in charge, as much as they were when voters were paying the most attention and Democrats took thirty GOP-held seats.

And as Barack Obama pitches change, that message may work on a congressional level as well. Only 20% of Americans say the country is headed in the right direction, while 66% say it's off on the wrong track. President Bush has only a 32% approval rating, while 63% disapprove, and John McCain is seen as likely to follow Bush's policies by 77% of the electorate. Just 19% say McCain would go his own way.

Those numbers spell out a series of disasters the GOP will have to work through. Forget McCain's strong showing in head to head polls against Obama and Hillary Clinton, if he is seen as close to President Bush he may even win the election while losing seats in the House and Senate. A weak GOP brand gives the party little footing from which to launch serious challengers to Democratic incumbents, and Republicans will also have a hard time convincing voters they are the ones who offer a new direction for the country.

But not all is bad news. Just 19% of survey respondents said they approve of the job Congress is doing, while 69% said they disapproved. That's close to the way Congress was viewed in the middle of October in 2006, just a few weeks before Democrats won back control; then, only 16% of voters approved and 75% disapproved of the body's job performance.

"The image of Republicans in Congress is low," NRCC chair Tom Cole admitted to Politics Nation in an interview last month. "The Democrats have managed, in a year, to get down to where we're at. They had a real opportunity to be something different. Now, it's not an anti-Republican mood, it's an anti-Washington mood, and that affects both parties a lot, and hurts all incumbents across the board."

Cole's is a message Republicans across the country are parroting. If they are right, perhaps Republicans can win back at least a few of the seats they lost in 2006. If voters still associate Congress with Washington as a whole and the Republican White House, though, the GOP could be in for another rough ride in November.

The survey, conducted by Hart/McInturff, headed by two well-respected bipartisan pollsters, was conducted 3/7-10 among 1012 registered voters for a margin of error of +/- 3.1%.

On Polling

Part of our promise here at Politics Nation is that you, our readers, will be able to find the latest polling data on any House, Senate or Gubernatorial race you happen to find interesting. There will be no shortage of them -- either races you're interested in or surveys from those hot spots -- in the coming months, but it is important to remember that not all polls are created equal.

It will be our goal to bring you the latest numbers from pollsters whose methodology is commonly accepted as scientifically sound. That means we will include numbers from respected partisan polling firms, of which there are many throughout the country.

Partisan polls, though, ought to be taken with a grain of salt. When polls from partisan sources become publicly available, they are released to make a point. Still, if they are published on Politics Nation, we are confident that they are reported accurately. That means a horse-race matchup between two or more candidates will be asked near the beginning of the survey, before positive or negative messages about one or more of the candidates are read.

Some pollsters offer "informed ballots," meaning respondents are read brief biographies of candidates and then asked for whom they will vote. It will be our policy not to publish informed ballot tests unless the full biographies for both candidates are made available. In those cases, we will run the biographies next to the informed ballot tests.

When it comes to non-partisan pollsters, there are three primary means of surveying respondents: Live interviews, interactive voice response (IVR, for short) and web-based surveys. Live interviews are widely considered the most accurate in terms of horse race numbers in the months and weeks leading up to an election. For one thing, monitoring survey quality is easiest with live interviews, and a live person talking to a respondent can verify that the person on the other end at least claims to be the voter pollsters are trying to reach.

In an examination this reporter made, for The Hotline, of pollsters who conducted surveys in key contests in 2006, live-calling pollsters came closest to the margin of victory in fourteen of fifteen races, with one tie between live and IVR pollsters.

IVR, on the other hand, offers less stable numbers. The process -- a message asking voters to press a number corresponding with a certain view or candidate -- is cheaper and more efficient, in terms of the amount of time it takes to complete a survey, than live interviews, but they don't always offer the same consistency: In several 2006 races, IVR pollsters showed dramatic swings in just a matter of days. Barring a disastrous performance, the utterance of some unfortunate slur or other collapse, voters don't turn on a candidate that quickly.

That being said, some IVR pollsters have shown remarkable accuracy this year, and it has been our experience that the last poll some firms do before Election Day can turn out to be the most accurate. In California this year, while some pollsters showed Barack Obama winning by wide margins, SurveyUSA, one IVR practitioner, predicted a ten-point win for Hillary Clinton. Clinton won by 9.6%. SurveyUSA also came closest to predicting outcomes in last year's Connecticut Senate race, while Rasmussen, another IVR pollster, predicted the Democratic win in Missouri's Senate contest within one point, tying live-calling firm Mason-Dixon.

The third methodology, like IVR, looks like an exciting new way to conduct polls. Interactive and internet polling shows promise for the future. But like IVR, interactive and internet polls are too uncontrolled; in essence, it is impossible to know who is a part of the sample. Too, they are subject to manipulation, as evidenced by Ron Paul's incredible showing in a number of post-debate polls on the Drudge Report and other sites. Politics Nation will not run any interactive polls this year.

A final note: Some pollsters will use methodology that may seem a little out of the ordinary. A recent poll from the University of Washington, for example, attracted several comments about the survey's accuracy, and rightfully so: The poll was conducted over an eleven-day time period, far longer than the three or four days it takes to complete most surveys, and respondents were a part of a panel -- that is, they are a part of the same pool of respondents who answered pollsters' questions in the UW's earlier poll. In cases wherein a question ought to be raised about a poll's methodology -- or at least something ought to be brought to readers' attention -- Politics Nation will make our best effort to do so, as we did with that particular survey.

This year will likely be the most polled political season in the history of modern polling. Each competitive race will get enough attention to be surveyed many times. But not all polls are created equal, and not all polls will get the same treatment from Politics Nation. We hope this is an effective guide explaining our own methodology.

Plenty Of News From CNN Poll

Plenty of headlines available from this morning's CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll [pdf]. Whether it's John Edwards polling better against Republicans than any other Democrat, or John McCain polling better against Democrats than any other Republican, several campaigns will be sending this survey around to its big donors.

There are some negatives, though: Edwards and Barack Obama will make the argument, again, that they are more electable than Clinton. Every Republican will point out that they are more electable than Mike Huckabee. And any GOP campaign could point out that one rival, Fred Thompson, has fallen so far, so fast that he is not even included in the questions.

The poll, conducted 12/6-9 surveyed 912 registered voters for a margin of error of +/- 3%.

General Election Matchups
Clinton 51 (nc)
Giuliani 45 (nc)

Clinton 54
Romney 43

McCain 50 (+3 from last, 6/24)
Clinton 48 (-1)

Clinton 54
Huckabee 44

Obama 52 (+7 from last, 9/9)
Giuliani 45 (-4)

Obama 54
Romney 41

Obama 48 (nc from last, 6/24)
McCain 48 (+4)

Obama 55
Huckabee 40

Edwards 53
Giuliani 44

Edwards 59
Romney 37

Edwards 52
McCain 44

Edwards 60
Huckabee 35

Undecideds Win Big In SC Poll

South Carolinians, it seems, just can't make up their minds. A new poll out of Clemson University shows nearly half the Democratic electorate and a sizable portion of the GOP electorate remains undecided little more than a month and a half before they head to the polls. "As the election itself draws closer, voters are taking their responsibilities more seriously, and respondents are less likely to make a casual selection when queried about who they are likely to support in the January vote," Clemson professors David Woodard and Bruce Ransom write.

The survey, conducted 11/14-27 with four days off for Thanksgiving and included 450 people from both parties, for a margin of error of +/- 4.62%.

Romney 17 (+6 from last poll, 8/07)
Thompson 15 (-4)
Huckabee 13 (+7)
McCain 11 (-4)
Giuliani 9 (-9)
Paul 6 (+5)
Undecided 28 (+8)

Romney leads the latest RCP South Carolina Average by 4 points, edging out Giuliani.

Clinton 19 (-7)
Obama 17 (+1)
Edwards 12 (+2)
Undecided 49 (+14)

Clinton still leads the latest RCP South Carolina Average by a wide margin, beating Obama by 12 points, though recent polls do show the race narrowing.

How to analyze this poll? Undecided voters break late, but half the Democratic electorate and a quarter of the GOP side makes us wonder how hard respondents were pushed to choose a candidate. Still, that may be telling: If Hillary Clinton has a big lead but only when leaners are included, that's great news for Obama, Edwards and others.

On the GOP side, those whisper campaigns against Giuliani may be working, but Romney's lead -- and impressive improvement -- suggests a state where many thought he would meet his demise may end up helping him after all. A win in South Carolina for the Mormon candidate, and suddenly the South is open to someone other than Fred Thompson. Interesting, too, to note that Romney's and Huckabee's rises come at the expense of three more established candidates Thompson, Giuliani and McCain.

But don't take this poll to the bank just yet. We'll wait for the next one to see if Romney still leads, and if Giuliani's fall is that dramatic.

Big Trouble For Daniels

He's not facing the best candidate Indiana Democrats could have put up, but incumbent Hoosier Governor Mitch Daniels is in some serious trouble, according to a new poll conducted for the Indianapolis Star. Daniels, who served as President Bush's head of the Office of Management and Budget before winning election in 2004, finds himself trailing two possible Democratic candidates.

The poll, conducted 11/13-16 by Iowa-based Selzer & Co., surveyed 600 registered voters and 449 likely voters. The margin of error, among likely voters, is +/- 4.6%, and 4% among registered voters. Tested alongside Daniels were architect Jim Schellinger and former Rep. Jill Long Thompson.

General Election Matchups (LVs only)
Schellinger 44
Daniels 40

Thompson 44
Daniels 43

Daniels has seen a dramatic reversal in his approval rating during his tenure. Just 40% approve of his job performance while 50% disapprove. That's a big change from March 2005, when 55% approved of Daniels compared with just 30% who disapproved. Only 35% think Indiana is headed in the right direction, while 57% say it's off on the wrong track.

Indiana's political climate has long been dominated by intensely local issues. State politicians get in trouble for trying to change the state's multiple timezones, and Daniels has taken flak for leasing Indiana's toll roads to a foreign country. 48% of respondents said the lease has been mostly a bad deal for the state, while just 31% call it a good deal.

Daniels has raised plenty of money, and his bid will certainly be aided by the Democratic primary still to come. But as if finding himself under 50% wasn't bad enough, actually trailing both Democrats has to be a sobering wake-up call for the first term governor.

Lessons From WaPo/ABC Poll

A new Washington Post/ABC Poll out this weekend gives an important window into the political landscape, and despite Congress' low approval rating, Democrats have to be happy with what they see. The poll, conducted 10/29-11/1, surveyed 1131 adults for a margin of error of +/- 3%.

Democratic presidential candidates are generally viewed more favorably than Republicans -- no leading Democrat has a net negative approval rating, while just two of the top five Republicans sport positive ratings. Perhaps more importantly, more Americans are aware of Democratic candidates enough to form an opinion, suggesting that Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama or John Edwards will have to spend less time introducing themselves and will be able to spend more time defining their opponents.

Obama 51 / 36
Clinton 50 / 46
Edwards 49 / 35

Giuliani 50 / 40
McCain 43 / 42
Thompson 33 / 37
Romney 28 / 41
Huckabee 21 / 30

That Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee have negative ratings does not necessarily indicate a negative overall opinion of the candidates. Given candidates they are unaware of, many respondents will say they have an unfavorable opinion rather than voluntarily offer that they have no opinion. Still, if any of the three end up winning the nomination, they will have work to do to introduce themselves to a majority of the country. That costs a lot of money.

Public opinion of Clinton, Obama and Edwards is largely unchanged from the last Post/ABC poll, taken in late February. Clinton's favorable rating is up one point, and her unfavorable is down two points, both within the margin of error; Obama's favorable is down two, while his unfavorable is up six, only slightly outside the margin of error and certainly explainable as more people get to know any candidate; Edwards' favorable is up three, and his unfavorable is down four, both inside the margin of error.

On the GOP side, though, Rudy Giuliani and John McCain have seen their favorable ratings drop dramatically, with a corresponding increase in their unfavorable ratings. Giuliani's favorables have dropped 14 points since February, while his unfavorables are up 12 points. McCain's positives are down nine points, with unfavorables up seven points. McCain's numbers might be explainable by his closer association with the war in Iraq, which, ironically, has helped him among Republican primary voters.

But Giuliani's drop in support has to be troubling for Republicans backing America's Mayor; the campaign is relying on the post-September 11th image of Giuliani, and if those initial positives wear off, Giuliani's campaign will have to spend a lot more to bring their positives back up.

Many Republicans will point to an increasingly slumping Congressional approval rating as evidence that their party still has a chance. Just 28% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, while 65% disapprove. That brings the RCP Congressional Job Approval Average to a -40.5% spread. That's a continuation of the steady decline since the middle of April, when 44% approved. And while a skimpy 32% approve of Republicans in Congress, Democrats don't fare much better -- they win the approval of just 36%.

But the Republican brand has suffered some serious damage. Only 39% of Americans see the GOP favorably, down 12 points from March 2006. The party's unfavorable is up ten points in that time, to 56%. More than half (51%) of Americans still see the Democratic Party favorably, though that's down four points in a year and a half as well.

Regardless of how the parties are viewed themselves, Democratic candidates have to be optimistic about their chances. On the major issues facing the country, Americans trust the party to do a better job handling all but the campaign against terrorism.

Trust Which Party On ___?
(Dem / GOP)
Health care 54 / 29
Situation in Iraq 50 / 34
Economy 50 / 35
Taxes 46 / 40
Immigration 42 / 35
War on terror 41 / 42

Yet even if the GOP tries to make the campaign against terrorism a central theme to next year's election, they will find the issue resonates less than it has in the past. Prior to Congressional elections in 2002, the GOP owned a 21-point margin on the issue. Prior to the 2006 elections, Democrats had a one-point advantage on the issue, among registered voters. With the GOP taking a slim one-point lead now, the landscape is essentially unchanged from that of 2006, which was disastrous for Republicans.

Whatever party is ahead or behind, it is clear that more people are paying close attention to politics than in previous years. The poll shows 67% are following the 2008 presidential race very or somewhat closely. Polls taken at virtually the same time in 2003 and 1999 show a much smaller percentage -- 54% and 45%, respectively -- paying attention.

The poll has Clinton leading the Democratic race with 49%, down four points from a late September poll. Barack Obama is at 26%, up six, while John Edwards hovers at 12%, down just a tick. On the GOP side, Giuliani leads with a third of the vote, followed by McCain, up seven from September at 19%, Thompson at 16%, Romney at 11% and Huckabee at 9%. See the whole write-up, courtesy Tom Bevan, on the RCP Blog.

Gore Wins Blind Bio Poll

Pollster John Zogby is out with his latest blind bio poll, which offers some interesting insights into the Democratic presidential race (find the poll's head-to-head matchup and the latest RCP Democratic Average here). Still, one has to wonder, how "blind" are these polls when more than one candidate is a rock star who is well known to the electorate and when two have previously been on national tickets? Judge for yourself. The biographies offered:

Candidate A is an experienced candidate from the South who has been Vice President of the United States and a US Senator. This person has won several awards, including an Oscar, a Grammy, and an Emmy for his documentary about global climate change. This person has won the Nobel Peace prize and is recognized as an international authority on foreign policy, energy, the environment, and technology. This candidate has opposed the Iraq war from the beginning.

Candidate B is a candidate with roots in the South and the midwest, but is currently a US Senator from a Northeastern State. This candidate is well known for work on many domestic issues, including education, children's issues, and health care. As a US Senator, this candidate voted to authorize the Iraq war. This candidate is critical of how the war has been handled by the current administration.

Candidate C is a first-term US Senator from the Midwest who has emphasized efforts to reach out to include in the political process many people who are disaffected and unused to involvement in politics. This candidate brings a fresh face to Washington and draws huge crowds to campaign rallies. This candidate has opposed the Iraq war from the beginning.

Candidate D is a former US Senator from a southern state. This candidate also has run as a Vice Presidential candidate in the past. This candidate champions health care and education for the poor, and has experience running a national political campaign. As a US Senator, this candidate voted to authorize the Iraq war but has since said it was wrong to vote for authorization.

Not very hard to guess who is who, right?

Blind Bio Matchup
Candidate A 35
Candidate B 24
Candidate C 22
Candidate D 10

Candidate C, who for no reason at all we'll call Barack Obama, brings just two positives to the race the other actual candidates can't claim: A "fresh face" and an opposition to the war in Iraq. While Candidate A sucks up more than a third of the vote, it is likely safe to assume that a Grammy, an Emmy and an Oscar are not what people are voting for; without this war opponent in the race, we'd wager many of those votes would go to Obama.

Luckily for Obama, Al Gore isn't running. Further proof, if one is needed, that a Gore endorsement would be a game-changing moment.

In all, the 527 respondents, who said they would vote in a Democratic primary, are largely satisfied with the choices they will face. 76% said they are either very or somewhat satisfied with the field.

New Gallup Poll Has Giuliani Up

A Gallup Poll, conducted 10/4-7 and released on the eve of the big Republican debate today in Dearborn, Michigan, shows Rudy Giuliani still in command of the race, at least nationally. The poll surveyed 409 Republicans and leaners, for a margin of error of approximately +/- 5%.

The big news: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee seems to be on a measurable rise. Huckabee is at 7%, up from 1% as recently as May, while candidates like Mitt Romney have remained largely stagnant, finishing at 9% today, down just 1% since May.

Primary Election Matchup
Giuliani 32 (+2 from last poll, 9/14-16)
Thompson 20 (-2)
McCain 16 (-2)
Romney 9 (+2)
Huckabee 7 (+3)

Taking a look at the favorable ratings for each candidate, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani have little upside remaining. Both are very well-known -- just 13% have not made up their minds about Giuliani, and 15% remain undecided about McCain. High name identification is a good thing, but when people have yet to make up their minds about other candidates, it means those candidates have more of a potential upside.

For Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney, about 40% of the electorate still needs to learn more about them before formulating an opinion. Those who can learn more about Huckabee: 65%. Thompson, Romney and Huckabee have the potential to win many more supporters, while fewer new voters are available to flock to McCain and Giuliani.

Giuliani 72 / 15
McCain 61 / 24
Thompson 53 / 10
Romney 45 / 15
Huckabee 26 / 9
Paul 14 / 14

Bush, Congress In A Bad Way

Reuters is out with a new Zogby poll this morning, and Tom has details on the horse race. But in general, Americans are pessimistic about the state of the U.S.

President Bush is even less popular than he used to be, as just 29% rate his performance as excellent or good, while 71% call it fair or poor. It's barely possible, but Congress performs even worse -- just 11% call its performance excellent or good, while 87% say it's fair or poor.

62% say the U.S. is off on the wrong track, though, slightly below the latest RCP Average, which shows 68.8% of Americans who think the country's headed in the wrong direction.

Because Zogby asks respondents to rate on a scale, instead of whether they approve or disapprove, the results are slightly different from RCP Averages for President Bush's and Congress' job approval. Currently, Bush stands at 33.6% in the RCP Average, while Congress stands at 27%.