Republicans Are Fed Up With Their Party, But Fired Up For 2016

GOP voters see their party as deeply divided, but are happy with their presidential contenders.

Even before last week's chaos in the House GOP, congressional Republicans had some damage to repair with their rank and file, who largely see their own party as disjointed and ineffective.

In a HuffPost/YouGov survey conducted after current House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced his upcoming resignation, but before House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) withdrew from the speaker's race, 57 percent of Republican voters saw their party as being largely divided. In contrast, an equal 57 percent of Democratic voters said their party was generally united.

Dissatisfaction with the national state of affairs crosses the aisle, but Republican voters are also especially unhappy with their current slate of party representatives. While less than a quarter of Democratic voters take a negative view of their currently elected politicians, a 53 percent majority of Republican voters say they're dissatisfied or actually angry with the GOP politicians who currently hold elected office.

Many rank-and-file Republicans are especially frustrated with Congress, where they see their representatives and senators as having betrayed campaign promises, turned their backs on the conservative base, and failed to enact many legislative achievements. And while Republican voters still believe their party has a bright future, they're less markedly optimistic than their Democratic counterparts.

Some of that discontent has likely boiled over into the presidential primary race, where it's often cited as one of the forces propelling nontraditional, outsider candidates to the front of the pack. Current national primary polls show about half of GOP voters gravitating toward a bloc of three candidates -- Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina -- who have never held elected office.

Outright anger, though, is notably absent in Republicans' opinions of the 2016 race, where they hold significantly rosier views of their options than do their Democratic counterparts. Eighty percent of GOP voters, compared to 66 percent of Democratic voters, say they're at least satisfied with their party's primary candidates, and Republicans are 7 points likelier to say they're enthusiastic about their options. Just 2 percent of Republican voters consider themselves upset about the current state of the Republican field.

Given the state of the horse race, that disjuncture makes sense: Republicans who are unhappy with their establishment are likely to be excited about the trio of outsider candidates leading.

But it also matches up with another idiosyncrasy of the race -- while Republicans certainly prefer outsider candidates right now, they like the vast majority of their presidential contenders. In the most recent Economist/YouGov poll, Republicans gave negative ratings to just three of their 15 current candidates: Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore and former New York Gov. George Pataki. While Carson saw the highest net ratings, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) came in second, and even establishment figures like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were rated favorably by the majority of their party.

Republican voters, for the most part, don't dislike even their more mainstream candidates. But their widespread dissatisfaction with their party's current performance in Washington is likely playing a big role in driving them toward the candidates who promise the sharpest break from the past.


The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Oct. 2-5 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here. More details on the polls' methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov's reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample, rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.