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Poll: Contentious Primary Hurting GOP's Image

The tumultuous race for the Republican nomination is taking a toll on the GOP's image, with more than four-in-ten voters saying that the primary contest has soured their perceptions of the Republican Party -- more so than impressions of the Democrats, according to the latest NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll.

In the poll, 42 percent of registered voters said the primary race has made them feel less favorable about the GOP, compared to just 19 percent who said they feel more favorable. Thirty-eight percent said the brawl for the Republican nomination hasn't changed their view of the party as a whole.

Republican primary voters are split on whether the contentious race, which has been largely dominated by the often bombastic rhetoric of front-runner Donald Trump, has improved or eroded their perceptions of their own party.

Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, sharpen attacks on each other 3:32

A third -- 33 percent -- say they view the party more favorably now, while 23 percent say they now have a worse image of the GOP.

Data from the same poll released last week showed Trump with a 13 point lead over rival Texas senator Ted Cruz, with Florida senator Marco Rubio and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson running behind.

The battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders has affected voters' perceptions of the Democratic Party less dramatically, and Democratic primary voters are more bullish on the contest's impact on their own team.

Twenty-eight percent of registered voters now view the Democratic Party more negatively, while 17 percent view it more positively. More than half -- 54 percent -- say the Democratic fight hasn't changed their views of the party as a whole.

Among Democratic primary voters, 38 percent said their view of the party has improved during the race, while only seven percent say the opposite.

The poll was conducted January 9-13 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 3.46 percent. The margin of error for Democratic primary voters is +/- 4.9 percent. The margin of error for Republican primary voters is also +/- 4.9 percent