28% Have Switched Presidential Choice Since January 1

The FINANCIAL — Voters give mixed marks to this year’s primaries and candidate debates, but a sizable number say they’ve changed horses since the first of the year.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that just over half (54%) of Likely U.S. Voters still favor the candidate they liked at the beginning of the year. Twenty-eight percent (28%) have switched their support to another candidate, while 15% are still undecided.

Not surprisingly, Republicans, given their initial field of 17 major candidates, are the most likely to have changed. Thirty-six percent (36%) of GOP voters say they have switched their support to someone else since the first of the year, compared to 23% of Democrats and 27% of voters not affiliated with either major party. Only 48% of Republicans still favor their first choice, compared to 68% of Democrats and 43% of unaffiliateds.

This is what elections turn on, though: One-in-four unaffiliated voters (26%) remain undecided, along with 12% of Republicans and just eight percent (8%) of Democrats, according to Rasmussen Reports.

Thirty-eight percent (38%) of all voters rate the current primary process as a good way to select a party’s presidential candidate, while slightly more (40%) consider it a bad way instead. Twenty-two percent (22%) are not sure. This is in line with regular surveying for the past several years.

A plurality (46%) views the number of candidate debates as about right. But 29% say there are too many debates, while 19% believe there are too few. In the previous presidential election cycle in 2012, 45% said there were too many Republican debates, and that was in January.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on July 24-25, 2016 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

In our latest weekly White House Watch survey, Donald Trump has the backing of 78% of Republicans and a slight 38% to 35% lead among unaffiliated voters. Hillary Clinton earns 76% support among Democrats. The GOP nominee now picks up 16% of the Democratic vote, while 10% of Republicans like Clinton.

Men like the primary process more than women do, but women also tend to be more undecided. Both are in general agreement about the number of debates.

Younger voters are more critical of the primary system than their elders are. The older the voter, the more likely he or she is to think the number of debates is about right.

Republicans view the current primary process more favorably than Democrats and unaffiliateds do and are also more likely to rate the number of debates as about right.

Among voters who like the current primary setup, 27% have changed candidates since the first of the year, compared to 33% of those who think it’s a bad way to choose a party’s nominee.

Those who think there have been too few debates are nearly twice as likely to have changed candidates as those who say there were too many debates. Among voters who view the numbers of debates as about right, 58% still favor the candidate they liked at the beginning of the year, but 29% have changed favorites.

Heading into the 2016 Democratic National Convention this week, the party’s progressive wing has a lot to be fired up about, and it’s not the party’s nominee.

Less that half of Democrats feel Clinton has done enough to win over supporters of her primary rival Senator Bernie Sanders, but most voters in their party still think there’s a good chance Sanders supporters will back the nominee in the fall.

Much of the anger from Sanders’ supporters was directed at the primary process itself, which included the use of superdelegates who can support any candidate at the party’s convention regardless of who wins their state’s popular vote. Just over half of Democrats cry foul at the system.

The traditional Republican leadership reacted angrily to Trump’s primary successes, and several of his opponents including Texas Senator Ted Cruz, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Ohio Governor John Kasich refused to honor the pledge they signed earlier in the year to endorse whoever won the nomination.

Even after Trump won the Republican presidential nomination with the biggest primary turnout in history, 66% of GOP voters think most of the party’s leaders don’t want to see him elected president. But then 73% of Republicans believe GOP leaders have lost touch with the party’s base.


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