Poll of Republicans in state hints mood is for compromise

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HARRISBURG -- A month after their candidate fell short of the presidency, Pennsylvania Republicans are unable to name a person they see as their party leader, and they believe Congress should compromise with President Barack Obama to resolve the looming set of federal spending cuts and tax increases, according to a Mercyhurst University poll.

Participants were asked to respond to the question: "Thinking about the Republican Party today, which person do you personally see as the leader of the party?"

Fifty-four percent of state Republicans cannot identify the leader of their party, according to the survey, and those who can divide their perception of leadership broadly: House Speaker John Boehner, the highest-ranking congressional Republican, is seen as the leader by 13 percent of Pennsylvania party members, followed by defeated presidential candidate Mitt Romney at 10 percent, vice presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan at 6 percent and Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie each at 3 percent.

"Often after a presidential election the losing party is in disarray, and we wanted to see if we could get a sense of where the Republican Party, at least in Pennsylvania, is," said Joseph Morris, director of the Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics.

"Several said, 'I think that's the reason we're in so much trouble right now,' " he said. "The fact we have such a high percentage not being able to name even a single Republican they see as the one that is leading their party is problematic."

But he said the result is not unusual for a party reflecting on a loss. Charlie Gerow, a Republican strategist in Harrisburg, agreed.

"It's not surprising that a party that doesn't occupy the White House and has just lost a national election would not have a clearly identified leader in the minds of its members," Mr. Gerow said. "That will change. Clearly what's going to happen over the course of the next four years is a leader or leaders will emerge to lead the party forward."

State Republicans lack consensus about why Mr. Romney did not win the White House, with a plurality of 12 percent saying the loss resulted from misperceptions about the candidate or his personal attributes.

The results suggest Republicans in Pennsylvania are looking for a compromise solution to the so-called fiscal cliff of tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect in January.

The survey was conducted with 430 Pennsylvania Republicans between Dec. 5 and Dec. 13. It has a margin of error of 4.7 points.

nation - electionspa

Karen Langley: klangley@post-gazette.com or 717-787-2141


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