Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Forty percent of Americans say they would vote to keep Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton from winning the presidency, more than twice the total for their No. 2 “anti-” pick, former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.

In a new Fox 5-The Washington Times-Rasmussen Reports survey, 64 percent of Republicans, 42 percent of third-party or independent voters, and 17 percent of Democrats said the candidate they most want to keep from the White House is Mrs. Clinton.

“Hillary Clinton is better known than any [other] presidential candidate on either side. She has a lot of people who love her and a lot of people who hate her,” said Scott Rasmussen, who conducted the poll.

While Mrs. Clinton performed poorly among most demographics, younger male voters were particularly cold. More than half of the adult men younger than 40 said they would use their vote to keep Mrs. Clinton from returning to the White House.

“If you look at the age breakdowns, younger people are more likely to put Clinton at the top of the list than older” people, Mr. Rasmussen said.

Mrs. Clinton performed best among older females, highlighting her strength but also pointing to the inroads Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, her chief rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, has made with younger voters.

“I think that’s some of the generational change you’re seeing Obama tap into,” Mr. Rasmussen said.

The survey question was: “Sometimes people vote for a candidate mainly because they’re voting against someone else. Which of the leading presidential candidates would you most want to prevent from becoming president?”

It’s not surprising Mrs. Clinton tops the list. She has always polled highest when voters are asked who they will not consider voting for next November, often approaching half of all voters.

Mr. Rasmussen said the rest of the field is steadily catching up to Mrs. Clinton when voters are asked in other polls whether they support or oppose a particular candidate, rather than asked whom they most oppose among all the candidates. By that measure, each of the candidates is now opposed by at least 30 percent and most now draw more than 40 percent opposition, he said.

Among the other candidates in this new poll, the Republican Mr. Giuliani drew 17 percent of “anti-” votes, and garnered the strongest opposition from Democrats, with 30 percent saying they would use their vote to bar him from the presidency.

Mr. Obama was the only other candidate to draw double-digit opposition in the poll, with 11 percent saying they would consider using their vote against him. Eight percent of black adults and 13 percent of all Democrats polled said they would vote to block Mr. Obama from the White House.

The good news for Mr. Obama is that most of those polled paid attention when he campaigned last week with talk-show host Oprah Winfrey — 80 percent of those surveyed knew she is endorsing him. Seven percent — mostly younger voters — thought she had endorsed Mrs. Clinton.

Americans also didn’t shy away from candidates talking about religion. Asked if they “tune in” or “turn off” when the political conversation drifts that way, 48 percent said they listen up, while 37 percent said they turn off. The rest were not sure how they would react.

In another question, the survey showed few Americans will be swayed by early-state primary voting in Iowa and New Hampshire. Only 5 percent of voters said the results from those two early states will influence their own votes “a lot,” while 14 percent said “somewhat.”

But Mr. Rasmussen said the real effect of Iowa and New Hampshire may be on limiting the choices for voters in those other states through winnowing of the field.

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