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Most Republicans Say GOP Leaders Hurt Party With Criticism of Trump

Most Republican voters still think top GOP leaders are hurting the party with their continuing criticism of Donald Trump and are only slightly more convinced that those leaders want Trump to be president.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 57% of Likely Republican Voters believe it is bad for their party that top Republicans continue to criticize Trump, but that's down a bit from 62% in June. Twenty percent (20%) feel the continuing criticism is good for the party, up from 15%, while 16% now say it has no impact. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

But while 66% of Republicans felt top party leaders didn't want Trump to be president four months ago, just 51% feel that way now. Still, only 27% believe party leaders want a Trump presidency, compared to 20% in the previous survey. Twenty-two percent (22%) are now unsure of what their party leaders want.

Among all likely voters, only 17% believe most top Republican leaders want Trump to be elected president. Sixty-two percent (62%) disagree, while 21% are not sure. These findings are little changed from June.

Thirty-four percent (34%) of all voters say it’s good for the GOP that its top leaders continue to criticize Trump, up from 26%, while 42% say it’s bad, down from 50%. Seventeen percent (17%) say such criticism has no impact on the party.

Several prominent Republicans including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator John McCain, the party’s presidential nominee in 2008, have distanced themselves from Trump since the airing of graphic sexual comments he made 11 years ago. Trump who apologized for the comments in Sunday night’s debate has dismissed their remarks and said now he is free to run against the GOP establishment as well as the Democrats. 

Among voters who support Trump in the presidential election, 74% say it's bad for the GOP that top party leaders keep criticizing him. Just 30% of these voters think Republican leaders want Trump to win. 

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on October 10-11, 2016 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Trump took a noticeable hit in Rasmussen Report's daily White House Watch survey following the disclosure of his sexual remarks, but the race has tightened since Sunday night’s debate between the candidates.

Just 12% of Democrats and 11% of voters not affiliated with either major party think most GOP leaders want to see their party’s nominee win the election.

Fifty percent (50%) of Democrats consider the intraparty criticism a good thing, up from 38% in June. Just 29% of unaffiliated voters share that view. Forty-three percent (43%) of unaffiliateds think the criticism of Trump by top Republican leaders is bad for their party, and 28% of Democrats agree.

Ryan said after the release of a video with Trump's sexual comments that he would not defend Trump and told other representatives they can stop supporting the GOP presidential nominee if they feel it will hurt their reelection chances. While Ryan has not rescinded his endorsement of Trump, few Republicans said in May that it was important to their vote that their party’s top leader in Congress endorse their party’s presidential nominee

Republicans still prefer a party that’s more like Trump than Ryan.

Already by June, Trump seemed to be a third-party candidate running against both major parties.

Voters continue to strongly believe that the media is more interested in controversy than in the issues when it comes to the presidential race. As in previous presidential election cycles, voters expect reporters covering political campaigns to help their favorite candidates and think it's far more likely they will help Clinton than Trump.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on October 10-11, 2016 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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