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Poll: Majority of Republicans unsatisfied with current field of presidential candidates

by Christopher A. Guzman, published

As primary season rolls on, a recent CBS poll of Republican voters finds that they are not satisfied with the current crop of GOP presidential candidates.  According to the survey, 58% of Republican voters want more candidate choices even with the presidential selection process already in motion.  That’s up 12% since October 2011. Only 37% of the voters polled are satisfied with the current field vying for the nomination.

Back in June 2011, 71% of Republican primary voters expressed the desire for more choices at a time when the GOP field was already crowded. Although a lower percentage now, the desire for more options has remained fairly constant.

In the sample polled, there isn’t that much enthusiasm for any of the candidates currently running. Only 33% of Republican primary voters say that they would enthusiastically back former Senator Rick Santorum if he became the nominee. It’s the highest of any of the other candidates. Meanwhile, a quarter of Republican voters have reservations about him.

27% of Republican primary voters would enthusiastically back Romney, 29% would enthusiastically back Gingrich, and 15% would enthusiastically back Ron Paul according to the poll’s results. What’s interesting to note is that 17% of Republican primary voters said that they would not vote for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich if he were the nominee, and 20% said the same about Congressman Ron Paul. The poll noted that Republican voters would be least enthusiastic about former Ambassador Jon Huntsman as the nominee.

These results come, however, as Paul finished a solid third in Iowa, while Huntsman could score a top three finish in the New Hampshire primary. An American Research Group poll of likely New Hampshire voters finds both Paul and Huntsman virtually tied for second place in the primary contest, one in which Independents can make a splash.

There are potentially a number of different reasons for the lack of enthusiasm amongst Republican voters, including the lack of clarity after the Iowa Caucuses and the issue of electability in the general election. At the end of the day, however, the dissatisfaction of party-aligned voters could indicate a problem within the current political process.  Nevertheless, despite their tempered opinions about the field of candidates, the poll did find that Republicans are very enthusiastic about voting in 2012.

The CBS poll was conducted via telephone from January 4-8, 2012 among 1,413 adults nationwide. 1,247 interviews were conducted with registered voters and 440 with voters who said they plan to vote in a Republican primary. The margin of error is estimated to be +/-3 percentage points among registered voters and 5 points for the sample of Republican primary voters.

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