After nearly four months of hotly contested presidential primaries, a majority of GOP voters now believe Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul should end their bids for the Republican nomination:
Six out of ten Republicans say that Gingrich should drop out of the race, with 39% saying that the former House speaker should not end his bid. And 61% say Paul should drop out, with 36% saying that the longtime congressman from Texas should continue to campaign for the White House.
Thirty-nine percent of Republicans say Santorum should end his bid, with nearly six in ten saying the former senator from Pennsylvania should not drop out of the race.
According to the poll, which was released Tuesday, 36% of Republicans support Romney for the nomination and 26% back Santorum. It was a different story in February, when the two men were effectively tied in CNN's last national survey, with Santorum at 34% and Romney at 32%. In the new poll, Paul wins support from 17%, with Gingrich at 15%.
"Republicans recognize that Romney is the odds-on favorite to become the party's nominee. Seven in ten think he is almost certain or very likely to win. That perception may explain his rising support from the GOP rank and file," adds Holland.
Unfortunately for the Republican electorate, both Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul have vehemently – and sometimes contemptuously – denied rumors that they would drop out before the GOP convention in late August. Earlier today, for example, the former Speaker conceded that his campaign finances are dwindling and that he must keep “a fairly tight budget” to stay competitive. He did not, however, give any indication that he would throw in the towel unless Mitt Romney – who he describes as “the weakest frontrunner in modern times” – officially clinches the nomination. And as I reported earlier, Texas Congressman Ron Paul’s slightly heated comments on CNN indicate he has zero intention of dropping out, either.
Indeed, there have been innumerable discussions in recent weeks about the benefits and risks of a protracted primary battle. According to a recent Wall Street Journal-NBC survey, 40 percent of adults say the primary has damaged their view of the party. What’s more, nearly 60 percent of Independents feel the same way. Republicans voters, in other words, are growing increasingly tired of negative campaign ads and want to coalesce around a single candidate. But, at least for the time being, they’re going to have to wait -- perhaps several more months -- until that finally comes to fruition.