Public prefers governors for 2016

The public is increasingly more likely to support a governor for president than a member of Congress, according to a new poll.

Pew Research poll released Monday found 44 percent of people think serving as a state governor is better preparation for the White House. An equal number say that serving in Congress is better.

However, experience in Congress is on the decline as its approval rating nears all-time lows, while experience as governor is trending up. In 2007, 24 percent of people said experience as governor was better than experience in Congress. It has jumped 20 points since then. On the other hand, experience serving as a member of Congress has seen an 11-point dip since 2007.

trend line graph showing preparation for presidency congress governor

A majority of Republicans, 51 percent, said governors are better prepared to serve as president. A majority of Democrats, 55 percent, say service in Congress is better preparation. Independents are split — 45 percent think serving as governor is better preparation, while 42 percent say congressional service is more important.

A stable of Republican governors and members of Congress are seen as potential 2016 candidates, while on the Democratic side, former Secretary of State and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton is seen as the favorite.

The survey also found that many years of Washington experience has become a liability for candidates ahead of 2016. Thirty percent said they would be less likely to support a candidate who spent many years in Washington, while 19 percent said it would be an asset. Those numbers have flipped since 2008. Another 48 percent said it would not matter either way.

Nonetheless, some experience is necessary for a presidential candidate to be successful. A majority, 52 percent, said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate that has never held elected office, while 9 percent said it would be an asset.

Seventy-one percent say it would not matter if a presidential candidate were a woman. Democrats, however, see it as the biggest asset, with Clinton seen as the early favorite for the Democratic nomination.

Thirty percent of Democrats said they would be more likely to vote for a woman, while 10 percent of Republicans said the same.

Thirty-six percent said they would be less likely to vote for a person aged 70 or older, while 6 percent said they would be more likely to support that candidate. Fifty-five percent said it would make no difference.

Republicans have sought to make inroads with the Hispanic community, after President Obama won the demographic with 71 percent of the vote in 2012. Thirty-five percent of Hispanics said they would be more likely to support a Hispanic candidate. Two Hispanic Republican senators, Ted Cruz (Texas) and Marco Rubio (Fla.), are seen as potential candidates.

Military service continues to be seen as largest asset for 2016 candidates, while holding atheist views is seen as the largest hindrance.

The poll surveyed 1,501 people and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percent.