Presidential hopeful Donald Trump might be doing well in the polls, but a recent survey released Thursday shows his chances would be destroyed if Oscar winner Clint Eastwood entered the race. Which would be astounding, given that the last time Eastwood took to politics was at the Republican National Convention in 2012 when he jabbered on incoherently at an empty chair that an imaginary Barack Obama was sitting in, a scene that left attendees dumbfounded.
And yet, it seems that Americans would rather vote for a rambling, gravelly voiced Hollywood icon than the unfiltered egotistical real estate tycoon who currently leads our news coverage. At least that’s what one survey, conducted online by Harris Poll in July, tells us. It matched up well-known celebrities against real presidential candidates to see how they would perform in a hypothetical -- and far-fetched -- electoral race.
Celebrities with no plans to run for office, of course, have the advantage of enjoying near-universal name recognition and the ardor of dedicated fanbases without any of the pesky drawbacks traditionally associated with serious feats of electioneering -- like worrying about fundraising, or developing a controversial political platform. This isn’t surprising to most pollsters, who’ve long documented the fact that even real politicians tend to curry more favor with the public while they’re on paper than they do after they enter the ring. But the results collected by Harris only further reaffirm America's grave disappointment and dislike of the 2016 presidential field.
Those Americans surveyed are more than twice as likely to say they'd vote for Eastwood than they are to say they'd vote for Trump; 72 percent would support Clint while only 28 percent would back The Donald. But these poll respondents consistently preferred Hollywood power to political glower. For example, George Clooney bests Jeb Bush, 57 percent to 43 percent; Ben Affleck would defeat Ted Cruz by 18 percent; and Jimmy Fallon would beat Rand Paul by 10 percent.
Democratic nominees Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders fare somewhat better, but are not completely in the clear. Clinton beats Oprah Winfrey by 10 percent, and Sanders beats Jerry Seinfeld by 9 percent.
Another Harris Poll conducted in August found that Morgan Freeman, Clint Eastwood and Jon Stewart were the top three celebrities that Americans think would make a good president. The survey also found that nearly 6 in 10 Americans think a celebrity would make a good president. This may work better in theory than it does in practice, but it does underscore a latent public affection for political figures who emerge from off the beaten path. The 2016 cycle, in fact, has been unique in the way it’s given rise to candidates without a traditional background in elected office, such as Trump, neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina -- three candidates who emerged from the first GOP debate with more support than they’d previously garnered.
The Harris Polls were sponsored by CallFire Inc., and were conducted online. One poll surveyed 2,039 adults July 22-24, and the second poll surveyed 2,084 adults Aug. 7-11.
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