By Hannah Hartig, John Lapinski and Stephanie Psyllos
A majority of Americans (61 percent) think that current fractures in the GOP will still exist in November, according to data from the latest NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking poll conducted online from June 13 to June 19. This is nearly double the proportion of Americans who think the Democratic Party will still be at odds in November.
Recently, there has been considerable debate about whether Donald Trump’s unorthodox candidacy will impact whether Republican voters will rally behind their candidate. Dissension among party elites has also fueled the notion that Republican voters believe the GOP is splintering.
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Among Republicans and Republican-leaning voters, 87 percent think the GOP is divided. Nearly half (47 percent) think the party will unite by November. But a sizable 40 percent think the party will still be divided at the time of the general election in the fall.
Comparatively, just 16 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaners think the Democratic Party will still be divided in November. While a third of Democrats say their party is united now, 14 percent of Republicans agree—indicating that Republicans are actually more likely to say the Democratic Party is united than their own.
Regardless of whether this affects how people will vote, the perception among members of both parties is that the GOP is divided—and has a lot of work to do before the general election in the fall.
The fractures in the GOP beg the question of what (or who) could help unite Republican voters by November. A 35 percent plurality of Republicans and Republican-leaners say that former President George W. Bush’s endorsement of Trump would matter most to them. He barely edges out House Speaker Paul Ryan (31 percent) who has tweeted he will vote for Trump in the fall. Sen. John McCain and former presidential nominee Mitt Romney fall behind with 12 and 9 percent, respectively.
Though Bush has indicated he will devote considerable support to Republican Senate campaigns in the fall, he has so far remained silent on a possible Trump endorsement—and doesn’t appear to have any plans of doing so. Bush’s rumored dislike of the presumptive nominee, along with the value Republicans place on his endorsement, are likely contributing to the perception that the fractures in the GOP may be lasting. Whether or not dissension among party elites is reflected in the Republican electorate, however, is an open question.
The NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking poll was conducted online June 13 through June 19, 2016 among a national sample of 18,208 adults aged 18 and over including 16,135 who say they are registered to vote. Respondents for this non-probability survey were selected from the nearly three million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. Results have an error estimate of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points. For full results and methodology, click here.
John Lapinski is director of the NBC News Elections Unit.