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GOP has self-esteem issues, poll suggests

  • Story Highlights
  • One-third of Republicans surveyed have unfavorable view of the GOP, poll shows
  • Nearly half of Republicans couldn't identify a spokesperson for the party
  • GOP consultant Phil Musser says polling is natural; GOP has bright stars on horizon
  • GOP needs to change its tone, communicate in a more positive way, Musser says
By Kristi Keck
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(CNN) -- The Republican Party is in need of a leader and boost in its self-esteem, a new poll suggests.

A new poll indicates there is no clear leader of the Republican Party.

A new poll indicates there is no clear leader of the Republican Party.

Nearly half (47 percent) of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents surveyed in a USA Today/Gallup Poll failed to come up with a single name when asked who is the party's spokesperson.

Of the names that were mentioned, radio host Rush Limbaugh and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich received the most nods. Each was named by 10 percent of Republicans as the voice of their party.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney was close behind, at 9 percent.

Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents surveyed, just 17 failed to identify a party spokesperson. Sixty-seven percent of Democrats surveyed named President Obama as main person who speaks for their party.

Republicans have been forced to rebuild after suffering demoralizing losses in 2006 and 2008. Democrats control the White House, both chambers of Congress and also hold more gubernatorial seats.

The blows seem to have taken a toll on the party. A third of Republicans surveyed said they have an unfavorable view of the GOP. The Democrats, on the other hand, see themselves in a better light. Just 4 percent of Democrats said they have an unfavorable view of their party.

While the numbers sound bad for Republicans, Republican consultant and former executive director of the Republican Governors Association Phil Musser said such polling is natural coming off eight years in the White House.

"Does it stress me out that polling today suggests that Rush Limbaugh or Newt Gingrich or Dick Cheney are kind of the leaders of the GOP? Not really. At the end of the day, none of them are going to be the Republican nominee for president," Musser said.

A national leader for the GOP likely won't emerge until Republicans cross the bridge of 2010, he said.

"But the good news is, there are a lot of really bright stars in the Republican Party," he said. "What we need to do tactically now is figure out how we unite the constellation of Republican leaders around the country to help promote a more coherent and ideas-oriented, positive vision for the future of our country."

Without the megaphone of the White House, that's a challenge, Musser said, but he said he has hope in the next generation of Republican leadership.

Mark Preston, CNN's political editor, said the new polling indicates that the Republican Party could face some bumps in the road as they try to move forward.

"These numbers are troubling for Republicans, who are engaged in a civil war right over the ideological direction of the party," said CNN Political Editor Mark Preston. "When one-third of Republicans hold an unfavorable view of the party, it makes it difficult to establish a united front to promote GOP policies at the same time opposing President Obama's agenda."

Musser agreed that these numbers are more problematic for the GOP, and he said the party must do three things to regroup:

  • Change the tone to be more welcoming and positive, especially toward the Latino community and African American community
  • Get the younger voters excited about the Republican Party's message
  • Change the way they communicate and invest more in technology
  • "We need to be smarter about how we deliver our message and adopt the playbook essentially that's has been owned by the left -- about how we build grassroots movements using new and innovative technology standards," he said.

    "The bottom line is, most of this is just a hangover from the Bush years. As the saying goes, time heals all wounds," he added.

    The USA Today/Gallup poll is based on phone interviews conducted May 29-31 with 1,015 adults. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the full sample and 6 percentage points for the sub sample.

    CNN's Alexander Mooney contributed to this report.

    All About Republican PartyRush LimbaughNewt GingrichDick Cheney

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