Now that the Iowa and New Hampshire election events are over, the campaigns are heating up and the candidates are getting more direct in their comments about their opponents.
We asked readers to express their preferences among the leading candidates for each party. The results of the preferences sent in by our readers were consistent with the findings of national polls. John McCain has surged getting 30% of the expressed preferences among Republican candidates followed by Mike Huckabee with 17%. "Undecided" came in with 16%.
Barack Obama topped the stated preference of readers among Democrats and he also pulled in 30%. Hillary Clinton came in second with 24% and John Edwards third with 20%. There was also an "undecided" vote of 14%.
The preferences of FedSmith readers are as fluid as the national polls have demonstrated among American voters in general. When we took our last survey in late October, Fred Thompson came in first among Republicans with a preference percentage of 22% followed by Rudy Giuliani with 20%. John McCain only received the preference of 12% in that survey.
And there has also been a significant change among the stated preference for the Democrats’ nominee. In October, Hillary Clinton came in first among readers with 28% followed by Obama with 22% and Edwards at 18%.
The comments from readers also provides insight into what readers are thinking. As the comments are anonymous, people are free to state what motivates them to vote for or against a candidate and some readers do not worry about stating a strong view. Several themes emerged that are not apparent just from the stated preferences of readers.
Most of the negative comments are directed at Hillary Clinton. Perhaps that is because she has been a public figure as the First Lady for eight years or perhaps some readers have a strong negative response to her campaign and/or public persona. It points to a potential problem for her candidacy should she be the Democratic nominee.
Religion also was frequently cited by readers–often in a negative way. Barack Obama was the target of a number of negative comments from people who are uncomfortable with his name and his background. Those who state opinions of this nature often mentioned the war on terror.
Mitt Romney is a Mormon and a few readers also mentioned this as a negative factor and a reason not to support Romney’s candidacy.
The campaigns are apparently having an impact on the reasons for some readers to support a candidate. Some readers said they were for "change" in the country as a reason for supporting a candidate without any specifics.
Here is a quick summary of the results:
|1. Which of these leading Republican candidates would you prefer to see as the Republican nominee?||Total Responses||Percentage||Grand Total|
|2. Which if these leading Democratic candidates would you prefer to see as the Democrats’ nominee?||Total Responses||Percentage||Grand Total|
|Hillary Rodham Clinton||271||24%||1140|
|John R. Edwards||227||20%||1140|
|Dennis J. Kucinich||44||4%||1140|
|William B. "Bill" Richardson||100||9%||1140|
Here is a sampling of the comments from readers that are the most representative of those that were submitted.
An HR benefits administrator from DoD in Rosslyn, VA had this comment: "I am sick of the Clintons. No more dynasties."
An accounting technician with an Army hospital in Ft. Campbell, KY has a similar point of view: "Almost anyone except Hillary."
A Forest Service director from Escanaba, MI wrote: "I would not want to see any of the republicans listed as canidates. After 8 long years of this republican administration has been enough of the republicans for me. In our state every time a solider is killed the flags fly at half staff and it seems that happens at least once a week. A war for nothing and the loss of lives for nothing but some president’s whim is sad enough to me."
But a secretary with the VA in Florida intends to vote for Hillary Clinton: "I think of overall candidate should be Hilary Clinton. She has the experience and determination and now has shown she is human like the rest of us. I don’t like Obama because of his middle name and Huckabee is too spiritual. McCain seems to also have the experience and I would like to see him as VP with Cliniton as President."
A systems analyst with CECOM in Ft. Monmouth, NJ wants to vote for an underdog: "I root for the underdog and feel that Huckabee or Edwards might be good for our Economy. It couldn’t be any worse than put Hillary in and putting up with the Clinton clan for another four years of taxing the US citizens, and lying to our faces!"
An HR specialist with USDA in Ogden, Utah had this to say: "I would be very concerned if Obama got the nomination because it is common documentated knowledge that he was raised Muslim and would not hold his hand over his heart nor recite the pledge of allegiance. He was sworn into office with the koran rather than the bible."
A program specialist with the USDA in San Francisco, CA commented: "McCain is my preference as a more liberal (hopefully) in the republican camp. After Hillary, Edwards. I have a bit of trouble with a Mormon and a Muslim candidate. Go figure."
A Farm Loan Manager from Cavalier, North Dakota has a strong opinion: "Do we truly want to take the chance of having another Clinton in the White House after what infamous Bill did? The thought of Hillary being the "Commander in Chief" of our armed forces is a very frightening thought. According to a picture I saw of Obama, he couldn”t even salute our flag — how disgraceful is that! Sometimes I have to wonder – do these politicians have any brains at all and if they do, are they in their head??"
A service writer with the Marine Corps in San Diego, CA also cites religion in his comments: "Mainly, I would hate to see a Muslim as president while we are in a worldwide war on terror. No matter how good your working conditions, pay, benefits or retirement, it all is worthless if the building or the base you work at is blown to knigdom come by terrorists. We have to think long term, who can do the best for the most people in the nation?"
A classification specialist from NASA in Huntsville, Alabama expressed frustration with the media and support for Rudy Giuliani: "As a Republican I think Giuliani is the only one from my party that is electable. I personally like Thompson better, but I’m afraid he is not electable. Of the Democrats, if we must have one, Edwards is my choice. I simply don’t think Obama is a favorable candidate nationwide (because of his background) and I think Clinton would be divisive as a national leader. I think Edwards is politically astute enough to garner support from both sides of the aisle and would be best for the country. One last comment—-I am so tired of the media’s disdain for a candidate (either party) who proclaims his Christian faith."
A district conservationist with the USDA in Ft. Myers, FL supports Mike Huckabee: "Mike Huckabee is a proven person (and governor) of exceptionally great integrity, compassion and integrity. He was a proven uniter in Arkansas as he carried 49% of the black folks vote in an otherwise Democrat dominated state to lead and treat all citizens as one."
A business analyst with the Marine Corps in Albany, Georgia wants a veteran in office: "Can’t see myself voting for someone who has never truly "served the country" as John McCain has. He is what we need right now. A real Commander-in-Chief."
A program specialist with NOAA in Rockville, MD explains his thinking this way: "I am undecided as to whether I would vote for Hillary or Barack. I may lean toward Hillary because I have read some rather disturbing info on Barack, such as him being Muslim. They talked about Mitt and his Mormanism and nothing about Obama."
A manager with HUD in Washington, DC supports Fred Thompson: "Although Fred Thompson is not high in the polls, and certainly not a great campaigner by any stretch of the imagination, he has a calm demeaner, knows constitutional law and has been on committee’s that have dealt with foreign affairs and international problems and instabilities. He’s mentally tough and committed in his beliefs..he is the right man for the most demanding job; especially with today’s international climate."
A computer systems trainer from the US Courts in San Antonio, TX supports John McCain: "While I don’t agree with McCain on a few issues, such as immigration, I do agree with him on most of them and think that he has the best values and experience to represent me and try to accomplish what is best for our country."
A water rights specialist with the Bureau of Reclamation in Billings, Montana likes Huckabee for a different reason: "Mike had the self imposed will and discipline to lose a large amount of weight. As one who lost weight myself the old fashioned way, eating less-exercising more, I know what that takes and though it may sound odd, it says a lot to me. I also get a sense of honesty from him not pure politics."
A revenue agent with the IRS in Phoenix, Arizona outlines his logic in choosing a president: "John McCain has the most experience in government among the Republicans. Among the Democrats, Clinton is claiming to be the most experienced, but she has only been a Senator for a couple of terms. Being "First Lady" doesn’t necessarily give her experience. Obama may not have the most experience, but he has a level head on his shoulders, and has some excellent ideas. The voters should be cautious when submitting their votes, as they will have to live with the results."
An administrator with the US Courts in Kansas City, Kansas liked Obama: "Washington is light years behind popular opinion. On some level I think Obama understands that. Also, I believe he will get our troops home and will not leave a residual force in Iraq. We need to fix our country, not occupy another."
An administrator with the USDA in Colorado has strong views about several candidates: "The republicans have several good ones, Paul, Thompson, and Romney. The Democrats don’t. Kucinich and Richardson would be their best. Hillary is a socialistic liar, Obama, who is not proud of his "white" heirtage (more votes from the blacks) wouldn’t take his oath of office on the Bible and used the Koran instead. Is he a practicing Muslim? I hear about Romney and Huckabee’s religions, but not a word about Obama. It seems once again, the media is doing the voting for us. They decide and a lot of the sheep follow them without bother to investigate."
An HR specialist with the Forest Service in Albuquerque, New Mexico sees the election in these terms: "I’ strongly feel the country is going in the wrong direction. We need a change and it’s going to take a Democrat to do that. I like Edward’s rhetoric best but could live with any of the Democrats. I would love to see Guiliani vs. Obama. It could be billed as the politics of hope vs. the politics of fear."
Our thanks to all readers who took the time to select their preferences and a special thanks to all those who submitted written comments.