Is the 'frustrating' primary campaign hurting the GOP?

Pew Research finds that the Republican nomination battle may be turning off the very voters the GOP will need to beat Obama next fall

Herman Cain
(Image credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Many independents — 29 percent of them, according to a new Pew Research poll — are souring on the Republican Party as they watch the "frustrating" battle for the presidential nomination play out in a series of gaffes and scandals. Only 10 percent of independents say their impression of the GOP field is getting better as the campaign drags on through debate after debate. A small majority of independents — 55 percent — say their views have been unaffected. Still, these independent voters will be crucial to a GOP victory over President Obama in 2012. Will this turn-off of a Republican race dampen the prospects of the eventual nominee?

Yes. And it may be Herman Cain's fault: A key reason for rising doubts about the GOP field is all the "recent coverage of Herman Cain's demise as a presidential contender," says Jon Cohen at The Washington Post. Among voters who say they heard a lot about Cain last week, a whopping 41 percent said their views of the GOP field are getting worse.

"GOP contest sparks deteriorating views of party's candidates"

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Yes. The process has become a circus: The "seemingly endless" polls and debates, says Paul Begala at The Daily Beast, "have produced a series of frontrunners who, as LBJ said of his Republicans of his day, couldn't pour pee out of a boot if the instructions were on the heel." And the GOP's new primary system will make matters worse, awarding early-primary delegates proportionally, rather than winner-take-all, and thus keeping alive even the most unelectable "right-wing candidates" well into the spring. That's not a recipe for winning swing voters.

"The GOP's voting rules may empower the party's ideologues"

Hold on. The Pew poll wasn't great for Obama either: Sure, the GOP has given itself a "self-inflicted wound," says Kyle Leighton at Talking Points Memo. But there's some "collateral damage," too. Twenty percent of independents say the GOP campaign has made them more critical of the president, compared to just 14 percent who say they like the president more because of the GOP race. The president is obviously vulnerable, and "a good Republican candidate would do very well against Obama." The problem? "That candidate might not exist."

"Pew: GOP primary hurting the party"

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