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Pew: Public wants 2016 God-fearing candidates with little Washington experience

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Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Marco Rubio,Joe Biden,Hillary Clinton,2016 Elections,Rand Paul,Ted Cruz,Campaigns,Chris Christie,Jeb Bush

The public is fed up with Washington candidates running for president and won't tolerate a 2016 hopeful who doesn't believe in God, according to a new Pew Research poll just out.

Pew's survey of 1,501 adults also shows that after after five years with a president elected during his rookie term in the Senate, the public is now interested in electing a governor with executive experience. In February 2007, for example, 55 percent said a candidate from Congress was better qualified to be president. Some 24 percent said that of governors. Now they are even at 44 percent.

Overall, Pew said 30 percent would be less likely to back a candidate with years of Washington experience, while 19 percent would support that candidate. When President Obama was elected, said Pew, “more than twice as many saw lengthy Washington experience as a positive than negative trait for a presidential candidate (35 percent more likely versus 15 percent less likely).”

The survey is the first look into how the public is sizing up the election over two years away.

The Democrats appear to be considering mostly those with years of Washington experience, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden. The Republicans are split between several senators, including Sens. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, and governors and ex-governors, including New Jersey's Chris Christie, Indiana's Mike Pence and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Belief in God was also a key issue for voters, according to the survey conducted April 23-27. More than half, or 53 percent, said they would be less likely to support someone who doesn’t believe in God.

Other findings:

— 52 would be less likely to support a candidate who never held elected office.

— 66 percent said it “wouldn’t matter” whether a candidate was gay or lesbian.

— 71 percent said it “wouldn’t matter” whether a candidate was female.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.