Few Want To Talk Turkey With Candidates

The more Americans get to know most of the leading presidential contenders, the less they want their company over the holidays, it seems.

The number of Americans who say they would like to host Rudy Giuliani, Barack Obama or John McCain for a festive meal has fallen sharply since Memorial Day.

Giuliani’s holiday support has slimmed most.

In the run-up to Memorial Day, 37 percent of Americans said they would like to host Giuliani for a picnic. Today, only 22 percent say they would like to invite the New Yorker for turkey and stuffing, according to the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Obama doesn’t fair much better.

In the spring, a third of voters said they’d invite Obama for a picnic. Now only a quarter of Americans want to host the Illinois senator.

John McCain too has declined between the holidays, from 27 percent to 17 percent, perhaps reflecting his campaign’s overall downturn. (Giuliani and Obama have not seen a comparable fall in their political numbers as their theoretical holiday invitations have dropped off.)

Does the desire to host a presidential contender matter? In part, yes. Presidential elections are possibly the most personal of votes.

“Voters don’t vote just on issues. They get a feeling about presidential candidates. They want somebody they trust, somebody they believe will do the right thing,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of Quinnipiac.

“And you don’t invite people over for dinner you don’t trust, you don’t like.”

As for Hillary Clinton, often dogged by questions of warmth, she can boast a slight improvement since the spring.

Twenty-four percent of Americans would have hosted the New York senator in May; 27 percent say so today.

She owes her slight gain entirely to Democrats, however.

Clinton has not become any more popular with independents or Republicans, according to the poll.

“Sen. Clinton’s support is very deep. There are tens of millions of Americans who don’t like her, and there are tens of millions of Americans who like her a lot,” Brown said.

“She has been a fixture of the Democratic Party for 16 years, and she is a celebrity to them.”

Yet Thanksgiving does offer some good news for Obama.

Quinnipiac found in late October that Clinton leads Obama nationally 47 to 21 percent.

But when it comes to whom voters would prefer to sit down with over turkey there is a contest — Clinton edges out Obama by only 3 percentage points.

The Thanksgiving poll did not ask Americans to compare each party’s leading contenders to each other but did poll Republicans against Democrats.

Quinnipiac’s October poll found Giuliani edges out Clinton, 45 percent to 43 percent, while Obama edges out Giuliani 43 percent to 42 percent.

Over Memorial Day in 2004, Quinnipiac found that half of Americans would like to have backyard barbecue with George W. Bush, while only 39 percent said John F. Kerry.