Americans See Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush as Presidential Material, Bloomberg Poll Finds

In a race where political outsiders seem to grow stronger every week, the question of whether Americans can envision a candidate as president is one area where experience seems to be a plus.

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Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton stands on stage during the New Hampshire Democratic Party Convention on Sept. 19, 2015, in Manchester.

Photographer: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

When it comes to Americans envisioning a 2016 presidential candidate moving into the White House, Hillary Clinton has the edge.

Nearly half of U.S. adults say they have a “realistic vision” of Clinton being president, outpacing any of the seven Democratic and Republican candidates tested on the question, according to a new Bloomberg Politics national poll.

Jeb Bush fares best among the Republicans with 40 percent, compared to Clinton's 47 percent, and Donald Trump fares worst with 29 percent.

Read the poll questions and methodology here.

Fifty-two percent say they can’t see Clinton as president and 57 percent say the same about Bush—lower than the 69 percent who say they can't see Trump taking the job. In a race where political outsiders seem to grow stronger every week, this is one area where experience seems to be a plus: Clinton is a former first lady, senator, and secretary of state; Bush is a former Florida governor and the son and brother of ex-presidents; and the billionaire Trump is making his first foray into electoral politics. 

Though Trump leads the Republican field in horse-race polling, he’s the only candidate tested for this question who doesn’t get the support of a majority of members of his or her own party. Forty-five percent of Republicans say have a realistic vision of Trump as president and 53 percent say they don’t. Just 13 percent of Democrats and 30 percent of independents can see him in the job.

Clinton’s overall numbers benefit from strong enthusiasm among Democrats: 74 percent who identify with the party say they have a realistic vision of Clinton as president. Twenty-three percent of Republicans and 33 percent of independents say the same.

In a sign of how seriously Wall Street takes Clinton’s candidacy, pharmaceutical and biotech stocks dropped earlier this week as her campaign signaled that she would be offering policy proposals that would force the industry to lower prices, increase spending on research, and give up tens of billions of dollars of tax breaks. 

When it comes to Bush, Republicans are closely divided on the question. Fifty-three percent say they can see him as president and 46 percent say they don’t. Three in 10 Democrats say they can, while two thirds say they can’t.

Thirty-four percent say they can see Bernie Sanders, a Vermont socialist who serves in the Senate as an independent, being commander-in-chief, including 53 percent of Democrats and just 14 percent of Republicans. Independents are less confident in Sanders’ candidacy than in Clinton’s by this metric, with 27 percent saying they have a realistic vision of Sanders making it to the White House.

Regarding other Republican candidates, about a third of respondents say they can envision former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson as president, while three in 10 could picture freshman Florida Senator Marco Rubio on the job.

The poll was conducted for Bloomberg Politics by the Iowa-based Selzer & Co. from Sept. 18-21 and is based on interviews with 1,001 U.S. adults. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points on the full sample and higher among subgroups.

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