June 23, 2011

Doubts About Neophyte Candidates

51%

Across party lines, most voters say they would be less likely to vote for a presidential candidate who had never before held elective office.

Lacking any prior experience in elected office continues to be seen as a liability for a presidential candidate. Roughly half (51%) of the public says it would be less likely to vote for a candidate who has never held elective office, which is little changed from four years ago (56%). There are essentially no differences in this view across political party lines. However, not all types of prior elective experience garner favor: Only a quarter (25%) of Republicans say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate with lengthy Washington experience, while 34% say they would be less likely to support such a candidate. In 2007, 40% of Republicans said they would be more likely to support a long-time Washington politician while only 17% said they would be less likely. Democrats too now have a less positive view of long-time Washington elected officials than they did in 2007. Currently, 29% say they would be more likely to vote for such a candidate, compared with 15% who would be less likely. Four years ago, 39% of Democrats were more likely to back a long-time D.C. politician and 10% less likely. The survey also finds that more Republicans than Democrats say they would be more likely to support a candidate who has been a governor (by 43% to 30%). Tea Party Republicans are no more likely to support candidates who have never held elected office than other Republicans. However, Tea Party Republicans are far less likely than other Republicans to value experience in Washington and are more likely to say they would support candidates who have been a governor or a business executive. A majority (51%) of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who agree with the Tea Party say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who has been an elected official in Washington for many years, compared with only 26% of Republicans who disagree with or have no opinion of the Tea Party. Read More