April 1, 2016

Republicans skeptical their party would unite behind Trump

Amid a contentious 2016 primary season, a majority of Republican voters currently express uncertainty about whether the Republican Party would solidly unite behind Donald Trump if he were to become the party’s general election candidate. At the same time, roughly half of Ted Cruz’s and John Kasich’s supporters say that Trump would make a “poor” or “terrible” president.

For Republicans, Trump is most divisive frontrunner in at least 20 years A majority (56%) of Republican registered voters say that disagreements within the GOP will keep many from supporting Trump as the party’s nominee, while just 38% say the party will solidly unite behind him, according to a new Pew Research Center report. This is the most skeptical either party’s electorate has been of their party’s ability to unite behind a frontrunner in at least 20 years.

The Republican race stands in contrast to that of the Democrats in this regard. The survey finds little evidence of similar unease among Democratic voters about their party’s ability to unite behind Hillary Clinton if she were to become the nominee, with 64% saying the party will do so. This is on par with the shares of Democratic voters saying the party would ultimately unite behind either Barack Obama or Clinton herself in March of 2008.

At comparable points in the last two primary seasons, clear majorities of Republican voters said they expected the party would solidly unite behind John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012. The last time fewer than half of Republicans said their party would unite behind their frontrunner was during the election of 1996, when 46% said they would get behind Bob Dole while 39% said they wouldn’t.

Two-thirds of Cruz, Kasich supporters say GOP will not unite behind TrumpWhile a 55% majority of Trump supporters say the party would unite behind him, they are somewhat more skeptical about this than McCain and Romney supporters were during the 2008 and 2012 primaries, respectively. In 2008, 64% of McCain supporters said the party would unite behind him, while 75% of Romney supporters said this in 2012.

Compared with 2008, 2012, more skepticism from non-supporters of GOP uniting behind frontrunnerMost Republicans who are supporting Ted Cruz (66%) and John Kasich (68%) say disagreements within the GOP would keep many Republicans from uniting behind Trump if he were to become the nominee, while roughly a quarter of each say the party would unite behind Trump.

Cruz and Kasich supporters are more skeptical of Trump’s ability to unite the party than were supporters of prior candidates who did not become the GOP’s eventual nominee in past elections. A slim majority of Republican voters who supported candidates Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul in February 2008 said they believed the party would solidly unite behind John McCain if he were to become the nominee (as he later did). And an even wider majority (62%) of supporters of Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum said they believed the party would solidly unite behind Mitt Romney, the eventual GOP nominee, in April 2012.

About half of Kasich, Cruz supporters say Trump would make a poor or terrible presidentSupporters of Kasich and Cruz are not only uncertain of Trump’s ability to unite the Republican Party, but they also offer a particularly negative assessment of Trump’s potential as a president.

Fully half of Cruz supporters say they believe Donald Trump would make a poor (22%) or terrible (28%) president if he were to be elected. Kasich supporters are similarly negative in their views of Trump as president: 55% say he would be either poor or terrible in the Oval Office.

But there is less criticism of Cruz and Kasich among the other’s supporters than there is of Trump. Only 25% of Kasich supporters say Cruz would be a poor or terrible president, while just 17% of Cruz supporters say this about Kasich.

Topics: U.S. Political Parties, Political Attitudes and Values, Voter Preferences, Election News, U.S. Political Figures, Elections and Campaigns, 2016 Election

  1. Photo of Samantha Smith

    is a research assistant focusing on U.S. politics and policy at Pew Research Center.


  1. Anonymous1 year ago

    What the United States needs to survive is that we need to vote for blue. The last two democrats have lots of experience and enough nowledge to bring back life support to the United States. We cannot have a republican idot in the house.

  2. chris Christophj1 year ago

    Better a divide and establish an individualist 3 rd party for middle class and obsolete democrat and old republican party

  3. Sherry Sarazyn Montgomery1 year ago

    I was under the impression that our country was a Democratic country. Isn’t that what we tote to all the other countries we’ve put our noses in? I think the way the Republican party is treating Donald Trump shows a complete lack of allowing the people of the greatest country in the world to select the person they want as president. Our Democratic process is being made a mockery, not by Donald Trump but by the Republicans who feel they know best. The people in this country are finally fed up with politicians. Ted Cruz is more like a preacher than a candidate. He is nothing more than a figure head for politics as usual. We, the people, are fed up.

  4. Jim Borasa1 year ago

    Trump portrays what Americans are feeling which is against the Anti-Establishment and that is what voters want. The Racial stuff is fabricated by the left because they know he draws the appeals from even Conservative Democrat Voters as well as Independents.

    For too long we the Voters had to hold their noses going into the voting booth to vote for the lesser of 2 evils. And what ever the Republican PARTY shoved down the throats in the last 2 elections required a Blue Pill.

    Finally, voters have Trump and the Party finds themselves scrambling for a life ring because they feel they have no control meaning BIG $$$Bucks to pay for their will and not the will of the people.

    You can like Trump so long as you know this is your chance to say talk to the hand to the GOP and this is what we want, not what you want. And finally get someone in with conservative values but common sense with business ethic’s to get the job DONE. You are not going to ever find a perfect candidate, so stop thinking we ever will.

    Common sense says stop electing the same paid for Puppets and the people will prevail.

    The Party however is actually against us the voters. And like the date the keeps asking you for that date continues to keep standing you up. You have to ask yourself; are you going to fall for the Establishment pandering again??

    Not ME- I’ll take Trump NOW!!

    1. Anonymous1 year ago

      Wait,what? ” against the Anti-Establishment and that is what voters want” I think you meant to say “against the Establishment”. Mr. Trump is running as an Outsider, i.e., an outside the Beltway, anti-Washington-Insider candidate. But that in itself is no reason to vote for him. He is clueless with regard to international trade, diplomacy, immigration, national defense, blah blah blah, ad nausea. “Business ethics”, whatever you mean by that, is not how a government is run. “Getting the job done” is something the 20th Century fascists tried and ultimately failed at, costing countless dollars and millions of lives.
      By any reasonable reading of Mr. Trump’s statements during this campaign, he has no more “conservative values” or “common sense” than a hog knows Sunday. That is the problem the GOP Establishment has with him: they have no idea what he really thinks, nor what he will attempt to do if elected to the White House. Does the US want a president who, on the evidence, reacts reflexively to every stimulus he encounters? God forbid.

  5. Packard Day1 year ago

    For many, Donald Trump is the default “Golf, Foxtrot, Yankee(‘s) candidate.” He is a loud and obnoxious protest vote against the likes of the Republican establishment and other multi millionaire media elites._____________

    Love him or hate him, Trump is a vote against what sociologist C. Wright Mills once called America’s “Power Elite (1956).” For those who no longer see a dime’s worth of difference between the two political parties, Trump is your opportunity to play some mischief this year with our Washington DC/Wall Street masters.

  6. George Kafantaris1 year ago

    The two candidates that can unite our country at this juncture — our first and foremost order of business — are John Kasich and Donald Trump — when he gets around to making his eventual about-face. But since Trump has worked himself into a liability, we’re now left with Kasich. He might not seem like our savior, but he’s nonetheless the only candidate around that fits the bill. And a big bill it is because our survival depends on it. That’s how bad we’re divided and need to come together as a country and as a people.

    1. John Doe1 year ago

      Only those who have bought into the narrative being pushed (frenetically) by the media believe that Trump has worked himself into a liability. He’s going to be okay!

      1. Gerry Gentile1 year ago

        I don’t have to “(buy) into the narrative being pushed [frenetically] by the media (to) believe that Trump is a liability”. I just have to listen to the man to realize just how dangerous he is.

    2. Nelson Ortiz1 year ago

      Or you could just as easily vote for Saunders