Pit maverick Republican Congressman Ron Paul against President Obama in a hypothetical 2012 election match-up, and the race is – virtually dead even.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of likely voters finds Obama with 42 percent support and Paul with 41 percent of the vote. Eleven percent prefer some other candidate, and 6 percent are undecided.
Ask the political class, though, and it’s a blowout. While 58 percent of mainstream voters favor Paul, 95 percent of the political class vote for Obama.
But Republican voters also have decidedly mixed feelings about Paul, who has been an outspoken critic of the party establishment.
Obama earns 79 percent support from Democrats, but Paul gets just 66 percent of GOP votes. Voters not affiliated with either major party give Paul a 47 percent to 28 percent edge over the president.
Paul, an anti-big government libertarian who engenders unusually strong feelings among his supporters, was an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. But he continues to have a solid following, especially in the growing tea party movement.
Almost one-fourth of voters now consider themselves a part of the tea party movement, an eight-point increase from 16 percent a month ago. Another 10 percent say they are not a part of the movement but have close friends or family members who are.
Almost 40 percent of all voters have a favorable opinion of Paul, while 30 percent view him unfavorably. This includes 10 percent with a very favorable opinion and 12 percent with a very unfavorable one. But 32 percent are not sure what they think of Paul.
Perhaps tellingly, just 42 percent of Republican voters have a favorable view of him, including 8 percent with a very favorable opinion. By comparison, 42 percent of unaffiliated voters regard him favorably, with 15 percent very favorable toward him.
Just over one-fourth of GOP voters think Paul shares the values of most Republican voters throughout the nation, but 25 percent disagree. Just under half are not sure.
Similarly, 27 percent of Republicans see Paul as a divisive force in the party, while 30 percent view him as a new direction for the GOP and 42 percent aren’t sure.
Among all voters, 19 percent say Paul shares the values of most Republican voters, 27 percent disagree, and 54 percent are undecided.
One-fifth of voters nationwide regard Paul as a divisive force in the GOP, while 34 percent say he represents a new direction for the party and 45 percent are not sure.
But it’s important to note than 75 percent of Republicans voters believe Republicans in Congress have lost touch with GOP voters throughout the nation over the past several years.
Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska and the GOP’s vice presidential nominee in 2008, is another Republican who has been bucking the party’s traditional leadership and was the keynote speaker at the recent tea party convention in Nashville. Nearly 60 percent of Republican voters say Palin shares the values of most GOP voters throughout the nation. Just 18 percent of Republicans see Palin as a divisive force within the GOP.
Rasmussen Reports released survey findings yesterday that take a closer look at the political views of those who say they’re part of the tea party movement. Among other things, 96 percent of those in the movement think America is overtaxed, and 94 percent trust the judgment of the American people more than that of America’s political leaders.
When it comes to major issues confronting the nation, 48 percent of voters now say the average tea party member is closer to their views than Obama is, while 44 percent hold the opposite view and believe the president’s views are closer to their own.
Just over half believe the average member of the tea party movement has a better understanding of the issues facing America today than the average member of Congress.
Meanwhile, 35 percent of voters now think Republicans and Democrats are so much alike that an entirely new political party is needed to represent the American people. Nearly half disagree and say a new party is not needed
If the tea party were organized as a political party, 34 percent of voters would prefer a Democrat in a three-way congressional race. In that hypothetical match-up, the Republican gets 27 percent of the vote with the tea party hopeful in third at 21 percent. However, if only the Democrat or Republican had a real chance to win, most of the tea party supporters would vote for the Republican.