Republican Voters Aren't Thrilled With The Way Their Party Picks Candidates

04/14/2015 04:09 pm ET | Updated Apr 14, 2015

The state of the 2016 Democratic and Republican primaries couldn't look more different. The Republican field is crowded with more than a dozen potential candidates, each at 15 percent or below in the polls. Meanwhile, the Democratic primary is effectively dominated by Hillary Clinton, who's coasted along with support from nearly 60 percent of the party since as early as 2013.

This isn't just the case in the presidential race -- the Democratic establishment, which largely avoided contentious primaries in the 2014 midterms, has rallied behind frontrunners in a number of upcoming downballot races as well.

"[T]he biggest difference among Republicans and Democrats might be the temperament of their voters," National Journal's Alex Roarty wrote earlier this year. "Polls show that the GOP's restive tea-party wing simply doesn't trust its congressional leaders and, by extension, the candidates they try to anoint in Senate and House races. Democrats feel differently."

Are Democrats really happier with their party's choice of candidates? Yes, a HuffPost/YouGov poll finds, although it doesn't mean that they consider themselves more in step with their party, or that they're necessarily more inclined to rally around a frontunner.

According to the poll, the majority of Democratic voters say their party does a good or excellent job of choosing the best candidates to run for office, while most Republican voters credit the GOP with only a fair or poor job. Republicans were twice as likely as Democrats to rate their own party poorly.

The majority of GOP voters who think their party is doing a poor job consider themselves to be more conservative than most of the party's politicians. Both Republicans and Democrats, though, largely think of themselves as being within the mainstream of their own party. Forty-five percent of Republican voters, and 48 percent of Democratic voters, say their own beliefs are similar to those of their party's politicians.

A significant chunk of Republicans -- 41 percent -- consider themselves more conservative than GOP lawmakers, while just 10 percent see themselves as more liberal. Democrats are a little more split, with 27 percent seeing themselves as more liberal, and 14 percent as more conservative.

There's also little difference between the parties on how contentious they'd like their primary battles to be, at least in theory. Asked whether they'd prefer primaries for Senate and governor to feature a number of different candidates or just one strong frontrunner -- the reference to specific, non-presidential offices was chosen to keep it from being a referendum on Clinton and her challengers -- voters in both parties were close to split. Democrats came down on the side of a wide pool of candidates by a three-point margin, while Republicans agreed by a five-point margin.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted March 27-30 among U.S. adults using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here. More details on the poll's methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov's reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample, rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.

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