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GOP Preferences for 2016 Presidential Candidates

The newly released 2013 American Values Survey finds that at this early stage, the GOP presidential field is wide open. Among voters who identify or lean Republican, support is spread fairly evenly across the potential 2016 presidential field in a head-to-head question of multiple candidates. Equal numbers of Republican voters prefer Governor Chris Christie (18 percent) and, Congressman Paul Ryan (18 percent), while 15 percent prefer former Governor Jeb Bush, 14 percent prefer Senator Marco Rubio, and roughly 1-in-10 prefer Senator Rand Paul (11 percent), or Senator Ted Cruz (11 percent).

However, both Cruz and Paul have advantages among important conservative constituencies.

  • Libertarian Voters: Among libertarian voters who identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, Paul (26 percent) was the most popular potential candidate, while 18 percent prefer Cruz, 16 percent prefer Rubio, and 13 percent prefer Ryan. Fewer libertarian voters prefer Christie (10 percent) or Bush (6 percent).
  • Tea Party Voters: Among Tea Party voters who identify or lean Republican, Cruz is the most preferred candidate (22 percent), followed by Rubio (18 percent), Ryan (14 percent), and Paul (13 percent). Roughly 1-in-10 Tea Party voters prefer Bush (11 percent) or Christie (12 percent).
  • White evangelical Voters: White evangelical Protestant voters have less clear candidate preferences than libertarian and Tea Party voters. Among white evangelical Protestant voters who identify or lean Republican, top preferences include Ryan (19 percent), Christie (16 percent), and Bush (15 percent), while roughly 1-in-10 prefer Rubio (13 percent), Paul (11 percent), or Cruz (10 percent).

For potential 2016 candidate preferences among Democratic voters, be sure to check out our full report, including topline and survey methodology, online.