WASHINGTON (AP) — A large majority of Americans now view the Republican Party unfavorably, according to a poll that suggests Donald Trump could be dragging down the GOP's brand.
The Associated Press-GfK poll finds that two out of three people now have an unfavorable view of the party. The 67 percent negative rating is up from the 58 percent who viewed the GOP that way in October 2014. Just 30 percent of Americans now have a favorable view of the GOP, the poll found.
The change has come as Trump has risen from businessman and brash reality television star to the Republican Party's presidential front-runner. And it's in contrast with public opinion of the Democratic Party, about which Americans are more evenly divided.
The new poll finds that 48 percent have a favorable view of the Democratic Party, while 50 percent have an unfavorable view. The numbers are largely unchanged since October of 2014.
Many mainstream Republicans fear Trump's comments about women and minorities could do lasting damage to their party.
He called Mexicans rapists and criminals in his announcement speech last year, has proposed a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States and has repeatedly made disparaging comments about prominent women. He recently re-tweeted a picture comparing the physical appearance of his wife to that of rival Ted Cruz's wife.
"I don't think we can be the party that is viewed as racist and sexist and win national elections," said Katie Packer, a Republican operative who is leading one of the anti-Trump groups. "He's set us back several decades."
While Trump remains popular among a significant portion of the Republican primary electorate, the poll finds that negative views of Trump among all Americans have reached historic proportions. There is evidence that negative views of Trump and such views of the party could be linked.
In October of 2014, some 22 percent of Republicans and 34 percent of self-identified conservatives reported an unfavorable view of the GOP. Those negative numbers have surged to 34 percent of Republicans and 47 percent of conservatives in the new poll.
At the same time, 43 percent of the Republicans who have an unfavorable opinion of Trump also say they have an unfavorable opinion of the Republican Party. It's the same with 59 percent of conservatives who have an unfavorable opinion of Trump.
The party has recovered from high negative ratings before.
Unfavorable ratings of the GOP also approached 70 percent in October and December of 2013. That's around the time Republicans, led by Cruz, embraced a partial shutdown of the government to try to block funding for the federal health care law.
The AP-GfK Poll of 1,076 adults was conducted online March 31-April 4, using a sample drawn from GfK's probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.
Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn't otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.
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