The Republican Party's image, already quite negative, has slipped since last fall. Currently 33% of the public has a favorable impression of the Republican Party, while 62% have an unfavorable view. Unfavorable opinions of the GOP are now as high as at any point since 1992. In October, 37% viewed the Republican Party favorably and 58% viewed it unfavorably. The decline in favorability since then has largely come among Republicans themselves: In the current survey, 68% of Republicans view their party positively, down from 79% last fall.
Republican officials aren't at all pleased with the prevailing political winds, or the likelihood of Donald Trump becoming the party's presidential nominee. But they have at least one thing going for them: they have time to put together a plan to mitigate their losses.
With that in mind, the New York Times reports today that GOP incumbents and candidates are shifting their focus to "ticket-splitting voters" who have no qualms about dividing up their election ballot, supporting Democratic and Republican candidates at the same time. The thinking, obviously, is predicated on the notion that at least some of the electorate might reject Trump at the top of the ballot, while also supporting GOP hopefuls down-ballot.
April 29, 201618:40
To add some perspective, note that in early 2009, Republicans were in deep trouble, with their unfavorable rating 15 points higher than their favorable rating. As bad as that seemed, now that gap has nearly doubled.
To be sure, Democrats aren't winning any popularity contests. Pew found Dems have 45% favorability rating, while 50% of respondents said they have an unfavorable opinion of the party. That's not great, but (a) it's significantly better than their GOP counterparts; and (b) it's at least been pretty stable in recent years. The Democratic numbers are roughly in line with where they were last year and the year before.
Republicans, on the other hand, have seen their support deteriorate in recent years, reaching their lowest point in nearly a quarter-century. Making matters worse, the GOP is underwater with women and men; whites, blacks, and Latinos; Americans of every age group; and voters of every level of education.
Adding insult to injury, much of the recent downward shift for the Republican Party is the result of GOP voters themselves saying they're not satisfied with the state of their own party.
With roughly six months remaining before Election Day, there's time for improvement, but no major party ever wants to find itself facing these conditions.
Politico added yesterday that "plenty of Republicans who are not up for reelection this fall" find themselves "breathing a sigh of relief" that they don't have to run in this environment.
"I'm just glad I'm not on the ballot," Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) said.