WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans have yet to find a Republican they’d clearly prefer over President Barack Obama, although half say the president does not deserve re-election.

Among Republicans, the desire to oust Obama is clear, according to a new AP-GfK poll. But it has not resolved divisions over the choice of a nominee. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is reasonably popular, but he has not pulled away from the field.

Former pizza company executive Herman Cain runs close to Romney as the candidate Republicans would most like to see on the ballot, but many Republicans are reluctant to back a man who has never held office. Texas Gov. Rick Perry lags in the poll, which was conducted before Tuesday night’s combative debate in Las Vegas.

In that two-hour forum, several candidates sharply criticized Cain’s tax proposals, and a newly energized Perry hit Romney hard on immigration.

In the poll, Romney was the choice of 30 percent of Republicans, with Cain about even at 26 percent. Perry was preferred by 13 percent, and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas topped the list of those in single digits.

Among all adults surveyed, half said Obama should not be re-elected, and 46 percent said he should be. That continues his gradual slide since May.

When all adults are asked about hypothetical head-to-head matchups, Obama and Romney run almost even, 48 percent for Obama to 45 percent. Obama holds a narrow edge over Cain, 49 percent to 43 percent. He leads Perry, 51 percent to 42 percent.

Luis Calderon of El Monte, Calif., exemplifies those unhappy with Obama but not ready to dump him.

“Even though I criticize him, I still want him to win,” said Calderon, 56, a self-employed handyman who was laid off by an oil company three years ago. Obama “has to get down to business, forget about promises, just do it, create jobs,” Calderon said. “But in order to create jobs, he has to be harder on the Republicans.”

A Democrat, Calderon said Romney “is the one that may do a little dent on Obama.”

Romney spent four years as Massachusetts governor, and he ran for president in 2008. Cain is the only candidate who has never held elected office, which might present some problems. Americans have no recent history of electing inexperienced politicians as president except war hero Dwight Eisenhower.

Of the Republicans polled, about four in 10 say they’re less inclined to vote for someone who has never been elected to public office. That’s far more than say they are disinclined to vote for a Mormon, a woman or a black candidate.

Romney and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman are Mormons. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota is the only woman in the race. Cain is black.

Nineteen percent of Republicans, and 21 percent of all adults, say they are less likely to vote for someone who is a Mormon. Anne Fish, a Republican and retired teacher from Columbus, Ohio, is among them. Fish, 73, said she would not support Romney “because he is not a Christian.”

Mainstream Mormons, including Romney, consider themselves Christians.

Fish said she probably will support Perry. “Although I have some doubts, I think he has some ideas about how to improve the economy, how to help our country develop more jobs,” she said.

Ronald Wilson, a conservative Republican from Bucyrus, Ohio, said he’s undecided, although “I favor Herman Cain. He’s not infected by Washingtonitis.”

Wilson, 65, a retired stone quarry worker, called Romney “better than nothing.”

Such comments underscore Romney’s challenge. Many GOP insiders see him as the most plausible nominee and Obama’s strongest potential challenger. But Romney generates little passion among Republican voters, who seem to keep shopping for an alternative as time ticks down to the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses.

None of the candidates has begun heavy television advertising, which Romney and Perry in particular can afford.

Perry has positioned himself to the right of Romney on several issues, but he’s having trouble breaking through with conservative voters. Nearly three in five Republicans say they see Perry as conservative, but only 26 percent say he’s “strongly conservative.” Cain gets about the same “strongly conservative” marks, while 17 percent of Republicans give Romney that label.

Among conservative Republicans, Romney is the choice of 28 percent, Cain 27 percent and Perry 15 percent. Ten percent of conservatives say they’re not sure whom they’d like to see win the party’s nod.

Tea party supporters split 33 percent for Cain to 29 percent for Romney and 13 percent for Perry.

Gene O’Dor, a retired postal worker from Mobile, Ala., said he likes Romney’s somewhat centrist leanings.

“I think he is a moderate, like I am,” said O’Dor, 66. “I feel he has the background in business to get this country back to where it needs to be.”

“I don’t think he is going to be a person that lies to the American public,” O’Dor said.

Benjamin Matzke, a video editor from Nicollet, Minn., is among those Republicans that Romney has yet to persuade.

“He really to me looks a lot like a career politician,” said Matske, 27. He said Romney “seems to pay lip service to a lot of things that I feel are important,” including abortion, but “his stance on health care is a little soft.”

There seems to be a broad gender divide in the Republican contest. Among GOP women, Romney is favored over his nearest competitor, Cain, by 17 percentage points, with the rest of the field in single digits. The picture is more muddled among Republican men: 31 percent favor Cain, 26 percent Romney, 17 percent Perry, 10 percent Paul, and the rest are each 5 percent or below.

Among all adults, regardless of party identification, 21 percent say they’d like the GOP to nominate Romney. Eighteen percent name Cain, 13 percent Perry and 11 percent Paul.

The poll found shifts in candidates’ favorability ratings. These numbers don’t necessarily track people’s likelihood to vote for or against someone, but they offer insight into how candidates are being received as they become better known.

Romney, Cain and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have gotten positive bumps since August. Romney and Cain are the only GOP contenders viewed favorably by more than 40 percent of all adults.

Romney’s favorable rating has risen 10 points among all adults since August, and now stands at 49 percent. Increases came across party lines, but especially among conservative Republicans.

Cain’s favorability rating among Republicans has nearly doubled as he has spent more time in the spotlight, increasing from 37 percent favorable in August to 71 percent favorable now. Just 10 percent of Republicans hold a negative impression of him. Party insiders will watch for signs that Tuesday’s hard-hitting debate might wound Cain a bit.

Obama’s favorability ratings are essentially unchanged since August, with 54 percent of adults holding a favorable view of him, and 44 percent unfavorable.

The Associated Press-GfK Poll was conducted Oct. 13-17, by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. It involved landline and cellphone interviews with 1,000 adults nationwide, and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. The poll included interviews with 431 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents; the margin of error for these results was plus or minus 6.1 percentage points.


Associated Press writers Nancy Benac and Stacy Anderson and News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.



Poll details:


How the poll was conducted



The Associated Press-GfK Poll on the 2012 election and candidates was conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Corporate Communications from Oct. 13-17. It is based on landline and cellphone telephone interviews with a nationally representative random sample of 1,000 adults, including interviews with 431 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. Interviews were conducted with 700 respondents on landline telephones and 300 on cellular phones.

Digits in the phone numbers dialed were generated randomly to reach households with unlisted and listed landline and cellphone numbers.

Interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish.

As is done routinely in surveys, results were weighted, or adjusted, to ensure that responses accurately reflect the population’s makeup by factors such as age, sex, education and race. In addition, the weighting took into account patterns of phone use — landline only, cell only and both types — by region.

No more than one time in 20 should chance variations in the sample cause the results to vary by more than plus or minus 4 percentage points from the answers that would be obtained if all adults in the U.S. were polled. The margin of error for Republicans and Republican-leaning independents is plus or minus 6.1 percentage points.

There are other sources of potential error in polls, including the wording and order of questions.

The questions and results are available at .


Topline results are available at and

AP-GfK Poll: Clinton appears on cusp of commanding victory


NEW YORK (AP) — Hillary Clinton appears on the cusp of a potentially commanding victory over Donald Trump, fueled by solid Democratic turnout in early voting, massive operational advantages and increasing enthusiasm among her supporters.

A new Associated Press-GfK poll released Wednesday finds the Democratic nominee has grabbed significant advantages over her Republican rival with just 12 days left before Election Day. Among them: consolidating the support of her party and even winning some Republicans.

“I’m going to pick Hillary at the top and pick Republican straight down the line,” said poll respondent William Goldstein, a 71-year-old from Long Island, New York, who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012. “I can’t vote for Trump.”

Overall, the poll shows Clinton leading Trump nationally by a staggering 14 percentage points among likely voters, 51-37. While that is one of her largest margins among recent national surveys, most show the former secretary of state with a substantial national lead over the billionaire businessman.

The AP-GfK poll finds that Clinton has secured the support of 90 percent of likely Democratic voters, and also has the backing of 15 percent of more moderate Republicans. Just 79 percent of all Republicans surveyed say they are voting for their party’s nominee.

With voting already underway in 37 states, Trump’s opportunities to overtake Clinton are quickly evaporating — and voters appear to know it. The AP-GfK poll found that 74 percent of likely voters believe Clinton will win, up from 63 percent in September.

Troubles with President Barack Obama’s signature health care law have given Trump a late opening to warn voters against putting another Democrat in the White House. But even Republicans question whether the rising cost of insurance premiums is enough to overcome the damage the businessman has done to his standing with women and minorities.

“Donald Trump has spent his entire campaign running against the groups he needs to expand his coalition,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster who advised Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s failed presidential campaign. Ayres called Trump’s campaign “strategically mindless.”

Even if Clinton’s support plummets in the contest’s closing days, or she’s unable to motivate strong turnout in her favor, it’s not clear that Trump could marshal the resources to take advantage and collect enough states to win the 270 electoral votes needed to claim the White House.

Clinton’s team has overwhelmed Trump’s campaign in its effort to turn out voters.

An Associated Press review of campaign finance filings finds that her campaign, the Democratic National Committee and Democratic parties in 12 states have more than three times as many paid employees as Trump’s campaign and the main Republican organizations supporting him. Clinton and Democrats had about 4,900 people on payroll in September, while Trump and Republicans had about 1,500.

Both sides benefit from legions of volunteers knocking on doors and making phone calls to voters, as well as outside forces such as unions and super PACs pitching in on voter turnout operations. But key Republican groups such as the ones funded by the conservative billionaire Koch brothers are sitting out the presidential race because of their distaste for Trump, further extending Clinton’s likely advantage at getting out the vote.

The strength of the Democratic turnout effort appears to be paying dividends in states where voting is underway. Nationwide, more than 12 million voters have already cast ballots, according to data compiled by the AP, a pace far quicker than 2012.

In North Carolina, a must-win state for Trump, Democrats lead Republicans in early ballots, 47 percent to 29 percent. The Democrats hold an advantage even though turnout among blacks, a crucial voting bloc for Clinton in the state, is down compared to this point in 2012. Strategists in both parties attribute the lower black turnout in part to an early reduction in polling stations, though more sites are to open in the days leading up to Nov. 8.

In Florida, a perennial battleground, Democrats have drawn even to Republicans in votes cast, reaching that milestone faster than in 2012. Traditionally, Republicans do well initially with mail-in ballots. But Democrats were able to keep it close, putting Clinton in position to run up the score during in-person voting.

Clinton also appears to hold an edge in Nevada and Colorado based on early returns. David Flaherty, a Republican pollster based in Colorado, said the data signal “a Democrat wave in the making.”

Buoyed by support from white voters, Trump looks strong in Ohio, Iowa and Georgia, a Republican state where Clinton is trying to make inroads. But wins in those states would still leave him well short of the required 270 Electoral College votes.

Trump’s top advisers have conceded in recent days the businessman is trailing Clinton. But they point to his large rallies and enthusiastic supporters as an indication he could be poised for an upset. Clinton draws smaller crowds to her events and has been perceived by some voters a lesser of two evils.

“We have a couple of different paths to get to 270 and we’re actively pursuing them,” Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, told MSNBC on Monday.

The AP-GfK poll suggests Clinton’s advantage is about more than just voter dislike for Trump. Clinton supporters are more likely than his backers to list their candidate’s leadership, qualifications for the presidency and positions on issues as major factors in their support.

Although voters are still more likely to have an unfavorable than a favorable view of Clinton, her ratings have improved slightly in the past month. Forty-six percent of likely voters now say they have a favorable view of the former secretary of state, up from 42 percent in September. Just 34 percent of all likely voters have a favorable view of Trump.

Trump’s unpopularity has opened surprising opportunities for Clinton as the White House race barrels toward its finish. Her campaign is actively competing for Arizona, a state that has voted for the Democrat in only one presidential race since 1952, and she is also spending money in Georgia, a reliably Republican state over the past two decades.

Both states have been on Democrats’ wish lists in recent years given their increasingly favorable demographics, though the party had little expectation they might flip this year. Hispanics are a growing share of the Arizona electorate, while Georgia is on its way to becoming a majority-minority state.

The real electoral map surprise this year is Utah, one of the most conservative states in the country. Utah’s heavily Mormon population has turned its back on Trump, providing an opening for third-party candidate and Utah native Evan McMullin to carry the state. Stripping Trump of six Electoral College votes Republicans have never had to worry about would further narrow his already slim path to victory.

With so much appearing to lean in their favor heading into Election Day, the Clinton campaign’s biggest concern is that some supporters take victory for granted and don’t show up to vote.

“Donald Trump said he could still win, and he could if our people get complacent,” Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri said.


The AP-GfK Poll of 1,546 adults, including 1,212 likely voters, was conducted online Oct. 20-24, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 2.75 percentage points, and for likely voters is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t have access to the internet were provided access for free.



Poll results:


Associated Press writers Hope Yen, Nicholas Riccardi, Thomas Beaumont and Chad Day contributed to this report.


Follow Julie Pace and Emily Swanson on Twitter at: and


AP-GfK poll: Third party backers a wild card in 2016 race


WASHINGTON (AP) — Most people who are drawn to third party candidates in the presidential election aren’t sold on their choice, making these voters wild cards in an already unpredictable contest.

A shift in their support toward either of the major party nominees — away from Libertarian Gary Johnson, Jill Stein of the Green Party or another third party candidate — could drastically change the shape of the race.

A recent Associated Press-GfK poll found that nearly 7 in 10 third-party supporters say they could still change their minds.

They are about evenly split between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump if forced to choose between just those two. Nearly one-third refused to pick or said they would just not vote if it came down to that.

Margaret Bonnem, a stay-at-home mother in Colliersville, Tennessee, had previously supported Stein. But now she says she’ll vote for Clinton because she realizes that “a third party candidate can’t really do anything but pull votes away” from the major parties.

“I can’t vote for Trump, and I don’t want him to benefit from me voting for someone else,” said Bonnem, 54. “So I’ll end up voting for someone I don’t fully trust.”

The poll, conducted before last Monday night’s first presidential debate, also shows signs that many third party backers would rather vote for no one than throw their support either to Trump or Clinton.

Among likely voters in the AP-GfK poll saying they’ll support a third party candidate, 7 in 10 say they have an unfavorable opinion of both the Democratic and Republican nominees.

Altogether, the poll found 9 percent of likely voters supported Johnson, 2 percent Stein, and 2 percent “another candidate.”

Among third-party supporters, 72 percent say Clinton’s not at all honest, and 64 percent say she’s at least somewhat corrupt. Sixty-eight percent say Trump is not at all compassionate and 59 percent think he’s at least somewhat racist.

Overall, 8 in 10 say they have an unfavorable opinion of each of the major party nominees. For 6 in 10, that opinion is very unfavorable.

Patrick Cannon, 63, from Minneapolis, says he’ll vote for Johnson though he knows Johnson can’t win.

“I guess my vote is in the nature of a protest vote,” said Cannon, who retired from the graphics industry. “I just can’t bring myself to vote for the other two.”

These third party voters don’t fit into easy political boxes.

They’re disproportionately young: 26 percent of them are under age 30, compared with just 15 percent of likely voters overall. More than half of them self-identify as independents, though when asked which way they lean, they’re about evenly split between the two parties.

They’re deeply dissatisfied with the direction of the country. Eight-two percent say the country is headed in the wrong direction, far closer to the percentage for Trump supporters (94 percent) than Clinton supporters (45 percent). Six in 10 disapprove of the job Barack Obama is doing as president.

Despite their dissatisfaction with the direction of the country, 74 percent of them say they would be afraid if Trump is elected president, compared with 56 percent who say that of Clinton. They’re also slightly more likely to say they would be angry about electing Trump than put Clinton in the White House, 54 percent to 45 percent.

Whether the Democrat or the Republican can win them over lends potential volatility to the race. In the AP-GfK poll, 69 percent of them said they could still change their minds about whom to support, while more than 85 percent of both Trump and Clinton supporters said their minds were made up.

Jim Stab, a retired captain in the Navy, is planning to vote for Johnson but says his “leaning is weak.”

“Not voting is a waste,” said Staub, 75, of Laguna Niguel, California. “If I won’t for Johnson, I will for one of them,” meaning Clinton or Trump.

On average, surveys have suggested Clinton may perform slightly better when voters are forced to choose between only Trump and her.

But first, they’d need to actually vote. And there are reasons to think many of them wouldn’t come out to hold their noses for their least-disliked candidate.

While 6 in 10 Trump and Clinton supporters in the AP-GfK poll say they always vote, just 45 percent of third party voters say the same. In fact, more than a quarter straight up say they would not vote if they had to choose between Trump and Clinton.


The AP-GfK Poll of 1,694 adults, including 160 likely voters who said they’ll vote for a third party candidate, was conducted online Sept. 15-19, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, and for third party voters is plus or minus 8.2 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t have access to the internet were provided access for free.


Lemire reported from New York.



Poll results:


Follow AP Polling Editor Emily Swanson on Twitter at and Jonathan Lemire at