09/20/2007 - The public is no more engaged by the presidential campaign than it was in the spring, and the candidates' images remain somewhat blurry. But the personal strengths of several leading candidates are beginning to come into focus for voters.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Sept. 12-16 among 1,501 Americans, finds that views of Hillary Clinton are more sharply drawn than those of other leading candidates in either political party. As many as 67% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters say Clinton is the Democratic candidate who first comes to mind when they hear the word tough and more than half (52%) associate Clinton with the word smart. No other candidate – Democrat or Republican – comes close to Clinton in being linked with each of these traits.
Pluralities of Republican and Republican-leaning voters say Rudy Giuliani is the GOP candidate who comes to mind when the words tough and smart are mentioned. But just 39% say Giuliani is the candidate who comes to mind when tough is raised, and 29% link him, more than other leading GOP candidates, with the word smart.
Clinton's own image is largely defined by these two personality traits – just a third or fewer Democratic voters associate her with words such as optimistic, compassionate, energetic and down-to-earth. In fact, more Democratic voters associate the words optimistic, honest, energetic and down-to-earth with Obama than Clinton; larger percentages also associate the word friendly with both Obama and John Edwards than with Clinton.
View Voters Assess the '08 Hopefuls: Clinton Seen as 'Tough,' Giuliani Viewed as 'Energetic'.