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Must Failed Wannabes Support Their Party’s Nominee?

Thursday, March 10, 2016

All the major presidential candidates have pledged to support the eventual nominee of their respective political parties, but voters say that’s not a must.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 23% of Likely U.S. Voters think candidates who don’t win their party’s presidential nomination should be required to publicly support the person who is nominated. Most voters (62%) disagree, while 15% more are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Given the insistence of Republican Party leaders that Donald Trump pledge to support the nominee no matter what, it's interesting to note that only 31% of GOP voters believe he should be required to do that. This compares to 22% of Democrats and 16% of voters not affiliated with either major party.

Republican voters feel even more strongly that they will support Trump if he runs as an independent.

Forty-nine percent (49%) of all voters say it’s at least somewhat important to their vote that candidates who don’t win their party’s presidential nomination publicly support the person who is nominated. Nearly as many (47%) say this factor is unimportant to their vote. These findings include 24% who say it’s Very Important that losing candidates publicly back their party’s nominee and 21% who say it’s Not At All Important.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on March 6-7, 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.

Thirty-nine percent (39%) of voters say they have voted in the past for an independent candidate not affiliated with either major party.

Majorities of voters in most demographic groups oppose requiring candidates who don’t win their party’s presidential nomination to publicly support their party’s nominee. The older the voter, the more likely he or she is to support such a requirement.

While most Republicans (60%) and Democrats (54%) say it’s important to their vote that candidates who don’t win their party’s presidential nomination publicly support the person who is nominated, only 36% of unaffiliated voters agree.

Self-described politically conservative voters place a lot more voting importance on candidates supporting the nominee than moderates and liberals do.

Some in the Republican establishment are pushing the phrase “Never Trump” on social media as an expression of opposition to his success in the primaries. When asked which phrase best represents their opinion of Trump, 54% of voters say “Never Trump,” while just 23% say “Always Trump," a phrase pushed by his most ardent supporters.

Following Jeb Bush’s exit from the race, Trump widened his lead nationally on a hypothetical Republican primary ballot.

Rasmussen Reports' latest monthly Hillary Meter survey, released in mid-February, found that 81% of Democrats believe Hillary Clinton is likely to be their presidential nominee this year, with 43% who say it’s Very Likely.

Right now there are more voters who say they will vote against both Clinton and Trump than will vote for them.

Only 41% say a choice between Clinton and Trump is one that they are excited about. Fifty-two percent (52%) say they will simply be voting for the lesser of two evils.

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

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