A growing number of Republican and Republican-leaning voters are concerned that the extended GOP primary campaign will be a bad thing for the Republican Party this year. A month ago, 55% of people viewed it as a good thing for the party, while 36% viewed it negatively. Opinion is now divided almost evenly — 47% of people view the extended primary as a good thing and 43% as a bad thing.

Looking at the current field of candidates, Mitt Romney’s supporters are more likely to view the long campaign as a bad thing for the party (52% hold this view). Newt Gingrich’s (36%) and Rick Santorum’s (30%) supporters are less likely to hold this view.

Republican evaluations of the quality of the GOP field have changed little over the course of the campaign. About half (49%) of Republicans say their candidates for the nomination are excellent (6%) or good (43%), while 48% call them fair (39%) or poor (9%). In February 2008, a few weeks after Super Tuesday, 60% of Republican and Republican-leaning voters said the field was excellent or good, while 38% said it was only fair or poor. Democrats also were more enthusiastic about their field in 2008 – fully 80% said they had excellent or good candidates. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.