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Potential 2016 candidates don't inspire much enthusiasm

Last Updated Oct 4, 2014 8:59 PM EDT

By Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Anthony Salvanto and Fred Backus

At this very early stage, most voters - both Republican and Democratic - aren't overly passionate about any particular potential candidate in the 2016 election for president. Only about one in four Democrats and even fewer Republicans can volunteer the name of a potential candidate from their own party as someone they are enthusiastic about. Among independents, this drops to one in 10 when looking at either party's candidates.

Seventy-nine percent of Republicans can't name a candidate they are enthusiastic about. Of those who can, Mitt Romney - the 2012 Republican nominee - tops the list among both Republicans overall (6 percent) and self-identified "tea party" Republicans (8 percent). Chris Christie is the second choice among Republicans overall (4 percent), but is mentioned by virtually no Republican tea party supporters. Instead, tea party Republicans are divided between Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (4 percent), Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (4 percent), Dr. Benjamin Carson (4 percent), and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (4 percent) as their second choice.

Among independents, nine in 10 can't name a potential Republican they are enthusiastic about. The two most mentioned names among independents are Romney (2 percent) and Carson (2 percent).

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Among Democrats, Hillary Clinton is the clear favorite: 24 percent name her as someone they are enthusiastic about. One percent each name either Vice President Joe Biden or Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, while 73 percent can't name anyone.

There is little difference by gender among Democrats; roughly one in four Democratic men and women volunteer Clinton. Democrats who consider themselves liberal are considerably more enthused about Clinton: 39 percent volunteer her as the candidate they are enthusiastic about.

Clinton is also the favorite Democratic candidate among independents (8 percent), though 89 percent can't name any candidate they are enthusiastic about.

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This poll was conducted by telephone September 12-15, 2014 among 1,009 adults nationwide. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher.

Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News and The New York Times by SSRS of Media, Pennsylvania. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.