A new poll identifies four potential Republican presidential candidates for 2016 who stand out in the crowded field of viable contenders.
In a Gallup poll
conducted July 7-10 of 1,013 adults, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry were the best known and best liked of 11 candidates tested.
More than 60 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they are familiar with each of these politicians, and they all have net favorable ratings of 40 percent or better.
Huckabee has slightly higher familiarity and net favorability rating than the other 10 potential Republican candidates tested, the survey said.
Among those both least known (under 55 percent) and least liked (under 30 percent) are Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz have slightly higher favorability ratings but hover below 60 percent in familiarity.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush both have familiarity ratings of over 65 percent but their net favorability ratings are below 30 percent, with Christie having the lowest favorability rating of all the possible candidates tested.
"Less than 70 percent of Republicans and Republican leaners nationwide are familiar with any of the 11 potential GOP candidates tested, even though several actively campaigned for the Republican nomination in 2012, one was the 2012 vice presidential nominee, and others have been visible in the news in recent months," Gallup said in a statement.
The organization also noted that none of the GOP candidates has the same level of name recognition as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
or Vice President Joe Biden.
"This suggests that many Republicans have not yet turned their attention to the next presidential race," Gallup said.
"Although the 2016 presidential election is more than two years away, active campaigning and preliminary debates will begin as early as the fall of 2015, meaning that next year is the real starting point for GOP candidates to intensify their quest to capture their party's nomination," the poll said.
"While Hillary Clinton is regarded as a strong front-runner for the Democratic nomination should she choose to run, there is no clear leader at this point on the Republican side — indicating that the race for the GOP nomination is essentially wide open."
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