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Poll: Majority of Republican voters not enthusiastic about GOP presidential candidates

A new CBS News/New York Times poll (PDF) shows that 56 percent of Republican voters do not feel enthusiastic about any of the official or prospective GOP candidates running for president in 2012.

The highest percent of enthusiasm for a single candidate (without offering those polled a list to choose from) was 9 percent, for Mitt Romney. Mike Huckabee garnered 8 percent on the enthusiasm poll; Donald Trump, 7 percent; Newt Gingrich 5 percent; and Sarah Palin 4 percent.

Asked about specific potential contenders, the most “favorable” ratings went as follows:

  • Huckabee: 54 percent
  • Palin: 51 percent
  • Romney: 42 percent
  • Gingrich: 42 percent
  • Trump: 35 percent
  • Michele Bachmann: 21 percent
  • Tim Pawlenty: 20 percent
  • Rick Santorum: 19 percent
  • Haley Barbour: 12 percent
  • Mitch Daniels: 9 percent
  • Jon Huntsman: 5 percent

Based on these results, CBS News has declared the race for the GOP nomination “wide open,” noting that when asked about specific candidates, most registered voters claimed not to know about most of the potential GOP contenders, especially Mississippi Gov. Barbour, Indiana Gov. Daniels and Huntsman.

While Donald Trump earned a favorable rating from 35 percent of Republican voters polled, 32 percent said they viewed him unfavorably and 33 percent said they had not heard enough about him to form an opinion. But of all registered voters, CBS News/New York Times said 72 percent of Americans do not view Trump as a serious presidential candidate.

Still, Trump’s high public profile has kept him in 2012 race discussions, at least in popular media.

The Des Moines Register on Thursday published an interview with Trump, highlighting his “evolving” views on same-sex marriage and abortion –- topics Trump is used to discussing. As far as more serious complex policy issues, his answers left much to be desired in the way of substance.

From the Des Moines Register:

Trump on national debt:

“What I’m going to do to reduce the debt is create a great economy. That can reduce the deficit better than anything. I am going to bring jobs back home. I am going to stop China from ripping off the United States — they will make $300 billion off us this year. I am going to stop China from manipulating their currency so we buy all their products and they take all our jobs. I will fight OPEC so oil comes way, way down. … I will create a tremendous economy. I will create a proud country.”

Trump on entitlements:

“I don’t like what’s happening in Washington where the Republican Party, a trap is being set for the Republican Party, where they’re willing to tinker and play with Medicare and Medicaid. Because I am against that. … I pledge right now that I will protect our senior citizens. And I don’t like that the Republicans have gone so far out on a limb about Medicare and Medicaid.”

Trump on embryonic stem cell research:

“I would say that I’d like to get back to you because I’m studying it very closely. It’s an issue, don’t forget, that as a businessman I’ve never been involved in.”

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