Pre-convention, Republicans increasingly predict unity

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CLEVELAND -- Republicans kick off their national convention Monday night with GOP voters nationally more convinced that their party will be able to unite before the election, according to a new CNN/ORC Poll. They are also mostly against procedural efforts aimed at unseating Donald Trump as the Republican nominee.

Overall, 68% of Republican and Republican-leaning voters say their party will eventually unite, 7 points behind the share of Democrats who say their party will come together by November. Though Republicans have gained ground on predictions of unity, they remain far less likely than Democrats to see their party as united now (35% of Democrats say so vs. 16% of Republicans).

Increasing that sense of unity is a primary goal for the convention this week, and Republicans broadly oppose efforts some have made to disrupt Trump's nomination. More than 6-in-10 Republicans say they disapprove of efforts to change convention rules so that delegates are no longer bound by the results of their state's primary or caucus. Even among those Republicans who would prefer someone other than Trump as the nominee, 60% oppose those efforts.

Partisan unity has been on the upswing among Republicans. In early May, just 48% of Republicans thought the Party would be able to unite by November, that rose to 60% in mid-June once Trump had won enough delegates through primaries and caucuses to secure the nomination, before bumping to 68% now. Among Democrats, the number has held roughly steady over that time at around 75%.

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The difference between Democrats and Republicans on whether their party is currently united appears to lie with the supporters of each party's presumptive nominee. While nearly half of Clinton's backers (49%) say the Democratic Party is now united, just 21% of Trump's supporters say the Republican Party is in the same shape. Few of Sanders' Democratic backers (17%) or non-Trump Republicans (10%) see their party as currently united.

Despite that gap, on the eve of the nominating conventions, both parties remain fairly divided over their nominees. A sizable minority of voters in both parties say that if it was up to them, they would select someone other than Clinton or Trump to lead the ticket in November. Among Republicans, 44% say they'd prefer someone other than Trump, while 44% of Democrats say they'd rather see Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders take the Democratic nomination.

Both Clinton and Trump hold underwater favorability ratings, but when it comes to the parties, the Democrats hold an edge. The Republican Party faces continued negative favorability ratings in the eyes of voters (51% unfavorable to 42% favorable), and few of the big political names slated to grace the convention stage are doing any better.

Donald Trump's family -- including wife Melania Trump and daughter Ivanka Trump -- will fill prominent slots on the convention stage. Views of both are mixed overall, with many yet to form an opinion. Both have net positive ratings among Republicans. Among all registered voters, Ivanka's ratings tilt 34% positive to 36% negative, while Melania is viewed favorably by 27% and unfavorably by 33%. Among Republicans, 50% hold a favorable view of Melania, 10% unfavorable, while Ivanka stands at 55% favorable to 15% unfavorable.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani holds the most positive ratings with the overall electorate of any prominent GOP figure tested, 49% have a favorable impression, 28% unfavorable. The only other widely-known Republican in the poll to hold a net-positive rating isn't scheduled to make an appearance on the stage in Cleveland: Ohio Gov. John Kasich. The former presidential candidate, who finished fourth in the GOP delegate race, has a 40% favorable to 26% unfavorable rating.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (50% unfavorable, 39% favorable) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (40% unfavorable to 34% favorable) both join the party's presumptive nominee Trump in negative territory overall.

Impressions of these political leaders are vastly different among Republican voters, however, with much more positive ratings of nearly all of the prominent Republicans tested. Trump tops the list at 79% favorable, followed by Giuliani at 68%, Gingrich at 62%, Cruz at 60%, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence -- since named Trump's running mate -- at 46% (though nearly half say they don't have an impression of him yet).

A CNN/ORC Poll in mid-June found that two other convention speakers also land in positive territory with GOP voters. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who supported Trump's candidacy shortly after his own ended and was a finalist in Trump's VP selection process, was viewed favorably by 54% of Republican voters, and 60% had positive impressions of House Speaker Paul Ryan, who will chair the convention.

Kasich, who has publicly expressed his distaste for Trump, stands at 45% favorability among Republicans.

The CNN/ORC Poll was conducted by telephone July 13 through 16 among a random national sample of 1,013 adults, including 872 registered voters. Results for the sample of registered voters have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.