Unlike Republicans, Democrats tend to like the leading figures in their party
Opposing a political party’s “establishment” seems to be a major part of the discussion in this year’s presidential campaign – and in both parties. In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, however, Republicans are having a harder time than Democrats accepting some current and former party leaders, including the most recent presidential nominees.
Republican primary voters have a negative opinion of the 2012 nominee, Mitt Romney, and are very closely divided on their 2008 selection, Arizona Senator John McCain.
Donald Trump’s supporters are particularly hard on Romney, who attacked Trump as a “phony” two weeks ago. Several months ago, Trump criticized McCain, but Trump voters look very much like Republicans overall when they are asked about the Arizona Republican. Just about half of Republican voters have a favorable impression of McCain.
As for a third member of the GOP establishment, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Trump supporters differ little from the supporters of the other three remaining candidates when it comes to assessing the GOP Speaker of the House: both groups don’t like him. There are differences about Speaker of the House Paul Ryan: Trump supporters are divided on the Wisconsin Republican, while more than two-thirds of the supporters of other candidates like Ryan.
There is a significant amount of dislike for the Republican Party itself coming from these GOP primary voters as well: more than a third of Republican voters – no matter whether or not they support Trump -- have an unfavorable opinion of the Republican Party.
These negative assessments are very different from how Democratic primary voters feel about their party and their party’s leaders. 81% of Democratic voters have a favorable opinion of the Democratic Party (and 71% of those supporting Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who did not declare himself a Democrat until he ran for president, agree). House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid are viewed favorably, though many primary voters have no opinion. And as for current and former Presidents, Democratic voters like them both – a lot.
Sanders supporters express somewhat less favorable opinions of both the party and its leaders. But they are still positive about all of them. And while Hillary Clinton gets negative evaluations from Sanders supporters, by 60% to 38%, Sanders supporters have a positive view about her husband.