That’s a tough starting place for a nomination battle that hasn’t moved into high gear. What’s especially troubling from the perspective of the Republican Party is the fact that Republicans and GOP-leaning independents are almost as negative as the rest of the country about their prospective candidates.

A new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll asked respondents to describe in one word their overall impression of the candidates running for the Republican nomination. In total, 44 percent offer a negative reaction, 12 percent a positive reaction and 19 percent a neutral one. Fully 25 percent did not provide a rating.

Among Republicans and GOP-leaning independents, negative assessments of the candidates outnumber positive ones by 37 to 22 percent. Almost as many, 23 percent, offer no single word or refuse to answer.

 The leading negative descriptors among Republicans include “unimpressed,” “disappointing,” “weak,” “pathetic,” and “confused.” The leading positive descriptors are “good” and “hopeful.”

Among all respondents, 14 words are mentioned at least 10 times. Of that group of words, 10 of the 14 are negative.

The breakdown of negative, positive and neutral descriptions are relatively consistent across political and demographic groups. Young adults, under age 30, are less negative than older Americans, with just as many providing no answer as a negative rating. Six in 10 white college graduates offer a negative rating – the highest of any group.