Republican Primary Rallies Democrats Behind Obama

As Democrats learn more about the GOP, their support for Obama strengthens.

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The longer the Republican nomination race drags on, the better President Barack Obama looks to Democrats..

A Pew Research Center poll out Monday shows 49 percent of Democrats reported that the more they learned about the GOP candidates, the more they supported Obama. This is up significantly from December when just 36 percent of Democrats felt that way. [See pictures of the 2012 GOP candidates.]

"No one knows where this race is going, and it is difficult to say. But it is pretty clear that this is having the effect of rallying the Democratic base behind Obama," says Carroll Doherty, the associate director of the Pew Research Center.

Of course, Democrats polled were already people who overwhelmingly approved of the job Obama was doing as president, but Doherty says the increase in support for Obama is a promising sign for Democrats, who do not have as compelling a presidential race to win as they did in 2008. [Opinion: Ohio Is Do or Die for Rick Santorum on Super Tuesday.]

Among voters at large, Obama still has plenty of work ahead. Just 23 percent say the GOP race has made them more supportive of the president, while 21 percent reported it had the opposite effect.

Since the GOP primaries have consumed much of the 2012 election coverage, only 26 percent of Republicans say they feel more confident about the Republican candidates while three in 10 voters overall say their impression of the GOP has actually gotten worse. Just 12 percent of voters said their view of the GOP had improved as they learned more about the GOP candidates.

The most recent Pew poll was conducted from March 1 to March 4 and included more than 1,000 voters

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