The race for the face of the Republican Party is already on. As 2016 quickly approaches, Republican voters are divided between Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has made a sharp turn to the right on social issues in recent weeks, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a more moderate Republican who possesses both the power and baggage of his family name.
A Quinnipiac Poll released Thursday revealed that 18 percent of Republicans or GOP-leaning voters preferred Walker while 16 percent preferred Bush. But more than 50 percent of voters said they still did not have enough information about Walker, compared with just over 20 percent who said that of Bush. After that, voters were divided among a slew of alternatives, with New Jersey Gov.Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee each earning 8 percent of the vote, Dr. Ben Carson getting 7 percent, and Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky (6 percent), Ted Cruz of Texas (6 percent), and Marco Rubio of Florida (5 percent) dragging behind. Seventeen percent of voters were undecided.
The vast contrasts among candidates and appeal show that the GOP is still trying to decide whether to nominate a no-compromises conservative or a more moderate contender who can compete against potential Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
On the Democratic side, the poll found that 56 percent of Democrats or Democratic-leaning voters preferred Clinton, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts—who has already said she is not running for president—far behind with 14 percent of the vote. The poll was taken before news reports this week detailed that the former secretary of State exclusively used a private email address and her own home-run server for her communications.
Vice President Joe Biden still pulled 10 percent of the vote, and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont got 4 percent.
In a head-to-head matchup, Clinton continues to be Democrats' strongest contender. She led every single potential Republican candidate, with Bush currently having the best shot against her. Clinton leads Bush within the margin of error, at 45 percent to 42 percent. And Rubio hasstands the next best chance of defeating Clinton, trailing her by just 5 points, 46 percent to 41 percent.
Quinnipiac pollsters also asked voters whom they did not want to see on the ballot in the fall of 2016. Business mogul Donald Trump topped that list, with 51 percent of voters saying they definitely would not vote for him and 25 percent saying they probably would not.
"Donald Trump gets a rousing 'You're fired,' before he even declares his intentions," Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said in a statement about the poll.
The poll included more than 1,200 voters and was conducted between February 26 - March 2. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.