Poll: Americans say GOP needs major overhaul, Christie best positioned to help

David Martosko Executive Editor
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Sixty percent of Americans believe the Republican Party is too eager to shield the wealthy from tax increases, and nearly as many — 57 percent — think the GOP should undergo major repairs before the 2016 presidential election.

That number, derived from a Bloomberg National Poll released Wednesday, includes more than one-third of Republicans and 60 percent of political independents.

Asked who among the current roster of potential GOP White House hopefuls could rescue the party, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie won a narrow majority: 51 percent said he represents either an “excellent” or a “good” fit for a Republican Party that needs a better strategy for winning.

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republicans’ vice presidential nominee this year, was a distant second, earning the support of one-third of those polled. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was close behind Ryan, with 31 percent.

Christie was the only current or former governor to score better than 30 percent. That’s the number of respondents who rated 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney as “excellent” or “good.” But Romney’s negative responses far outnumbered his positive ones: 43 percent saw him as unfavorable, a number no one else in the survey matched.

House Speaker John Boehner’s numbers are similarly upside-down, with 34 percent of respondents seeing him in a favorable light during the fiscal cliff negotiations with the White House. Thirty-seven percent oppose him.

Just 27 percent of those polled saw former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush favorably as a leader who could help the GOP. Current Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal placed last, with 24 percent. (RELATED: Jindal proposes future for the Republican Party that leads through education)

The other takeaway from the periodic poll of 1,000 adults is that Republicans’ political sacred cows may be softening in the face of a tough electoral loss in November.

Just 43 percent of Republicans polled said they could not vote for a presidential candidate who supports legalizing same-sex marriage. Only 40 percent found pro-abortion-rights candidates competely unacceptable.

And more than one-third of Republicans and independents combined said they could support candidates who endorsed amnesty or another path to legal status for illegal immigrants living in the United States.

Overall, 50 percent of the poll respondents said they have a favorable view of the Democratic Party. While that number is not a glowing mandate, it’s the highest rating for Democrats since June, and represents a 12-point lead over Republicans’ 38 percent showing. The Bloomberg poll hasn’t found as unfavorable a view of the GOP since September 2011.

The Iowa-based Selzer & Co. conducted the Bloomberg poll Dec. 7-10. Selzer sampled 1,000 adults — not necessarily all registered or “likely” voters. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. Data about the number of Democrats, Republicans and independents Selzer sampled was not available.

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