A tale of two conventions: Most Republican voters expect an open convention

April 13, 2016, 1:36 PM GMT+0

Most Democrats say the primary battle between Clinton and Sanders is good for the party, but Republicans aren't so sure when it comes to their own race

The primary season may be bringing Democrats together, but it also may be tearing Republicans apart. Democratic voters expect their party convention to be smooth sailing, while many Republican – and Democratic – voters are afraid there could be violence at the GOP convention, according to the latest Economist/YouGov Poll.

It matters little in the answers which candidate someone supports. Most supporters of Donald Trump and most Republican voters who favor either of the two other remaining candidates are worried about violent protests at the GOP convention. And it is a generalized concern, not determined by the outcome of the convention votes. Later in the survey a more specific question about the likelihood of violent protest if Trump did not win the party’s nomination received very similar answers.

Part of the reason Republican voters are worried is that many see the Trump campaign as fueled by voter anger. The largest percentages – 29% of Republican primary voters (and one in four Trump voters) – say that is the main reason for supporting Trump. Another reason for concern is that most GOP voters do not expect anyone will have enough delegates to win the nomination by the time of the Convention. They see a scenario very different from that their Democratic counterparts perceive. That is especially the case for those who are not supporting Donald Trump.

On the Democratic side, a majority expects there will be a nominee before their party’s convention. Even those now supporting Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, trailing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in delegate totals, think there will be a nominee before July, though the margin is narrow. Only 35% of Sanders voters think the Democrats will have an open convention.

Whether or not voters expect an open convention makes no difference in their expectation of violence.

Very few voters – Democrat or Republican – have any interest in nominating anyone who has not contested the primaries at a brokered convention. Only 10% of each party’s voters think anyone other than the current candidates should win their party’s nomination. While the GOP Speaker of the House is frequently mentioned in these scenarios, more than a third of Republican primary voters don’t even like Ryan. Just 49% have a favorable opinion of him, while 40% are unfavorable. That’s similar to their opinion of Ohio Governor John Kasich, and only slightly worse than the assessment of Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who is running second to Trump nationally. Trump’s ratings with GOP primary voters are nearly two to one favorable to unfavorable.

However, those GOP voters not supporting Trump hold a negative view of the businessman: only 28% of Cruz and Kasich supporters have a favorable opinion of the New York businessman; 71% are unfavorable.

Although Sanders voters also hold a negative assessment of their party’s frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, their percentages are much closer to even – 46% are favorable, 53% are not. (on the other hand, 71% of Clinton supporters have a favorable opinion of Sanders). And only 17% of Sanders voters claim they are mostly voting against Clinton.

So despite the continuing Sanders-Clinton battle, a majority of Clinton voters think Sanders should stay in the race. And Democratic voters think this contest is a good for the party by a wide margin.

Republican voters aren’t that sure. And that’s particularly true for Trump supporters. Three in four of them want Kasich out, just under half want Cruz out, and by nearly two to one, think the fact that there is no nominee as of yet is a bad thing for the party.

See the Economist/YouGov results

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.

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