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Behind the Numbers
Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 12/06/2011

GOP contest sparks deteriorating views of party’s candidates


Republican presidential candidates gathered in Detroit for a debate focusing on the economy on Nov. 9. (CNBC)
Americans’ views of the Republican candidates for president — as a group — are getting worse, not better, as the campaign intensifies, according to a new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll.

But so far, there’s little evident effect on President Obama, who awaits a general election match-up with the eventual GOP nominee.

Amid the intensity of the rapidly shifting Republican contest, nearly a third of all Americans say the more they hear from the field of GOP candidates the less they like it. Fewer than half as many say their impressions are improving. Still, half the public says its opinions are unmoved.

Some, but not all, of the deteriorating views may stem from the recent coverage of Herman Cain’s demise as a presidential contender. Among those who say they mainly heard about Cain last week, 41 percent said their views of the GOP field are getting worse, compared with 32 percent among those who heard primarily about other candidates.

The Republican campaign hasn’t changed the verdict on Obama. Nearly six in 10 say their impressions of the president remain constant the more they hear from the Republican candidates. About two in 10 say their opinions of Obama are getting worse or getting better.

Partisan reactions are the predictable ones. More Republicans say their opinions of the GOP candidates are improving than worsening, with the pattern reversed for Obama. Democrats, then, flip the other way on both.

Reactions from political independents mirror the public overall. On the whole, most independents are unaffected by what they’re hearing about the Republican candidates, with majorities saying their impressions of the GOP field and Obama are unchanged.

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By  |  12:00 PM ET, 12/06/2011

 
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