WaPo/ABC poll: America decides it really dislikes its presidential options

Both major parties have finally settled on their favorite candidates for their presidential nominees. Normally, that would produce a boost in enthusiasm and support for the nominees. In this cycle, of course this means that America now dislikes both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump more than ever, as the latest Washington Post/ABC poll shows:

Trump’s unfavorable rating, in fact, far surpasses Hillary Clinton’s even as the presumptive Democratic nominee receives her worst ratings in more two decades in public life.

The poll finds 70 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of Trump, including a 56 percent majority who feel this way “strongly.” Negative ratings of Trump are up 10 percentage points from last month to their highest point since he announced his candidacy last summer, nearly reaching the level seen before his campaign began (71 percent). The survey was conducted Wednesday through Sunday among a random national sample of U.S. adults, coming after last week’s primary contests, but with the large majority of interviews completed before Sunday’s massacre at an Orlando club.

Clinton is also seen negatively, with 43 percent reporting favorable impressions and 55 percent unfavorable. Attitudes have not significantly changed since last month, but negative views of the former secretary of state have technically ticked up to their highest level in all Post-ABC polls since 1992, when Clinton had yet to become first lady.

Not all lack of enthusiasm is created equal, however. When looking at favorability rather than unfavorability, an interesting pattern emerges:


Hillary’s favorability — ie, people actually liking her — has barely budged in over a year, with one brief spike last summer. People know her, and mostly don’t like her, and the stagnation of this pattern underscores the lack of upside Democrats have with her at the top of the ticket. It’s just not ever going to get much better than this, and it might get somewhat worse.

However, Republicans have managed to nominate someone that voters like even less. As mediocre as Hillary’s ratings have been in this series, Trump has never actually reached that level. He got a bump from clinching the nomination, but almost immediately went back to the status quo ante of March.

Trump has other problems too, in the demographics. Check out the changes in the past three weeks:



Remember that Trump had begun to see a post-clinch boost in the May 20th survey, while Hillary remained locked in battle with Bernie Sanders. Even so, Trump’s overall favorability was still on negative ground in every demo except white men, where he was a +12. That’s now dropped 18 points in the gap in three weeks to -6; his rating among white women has also fallen 18 points to -34. He’s dropped 23 points among black voters, and his rating among Hispanics has dropped slightly as well, even though it didn’t have far to go.

Still, the most remarkable point about these measures is that both candidates have managed to sink at the same time. Did Hillary take advantage of these rapid declines for Trump? Not really; she only gained slightly with black voters and even more slightly with white men. Otherwise, she lost ground in the same demos, including a 25-point drop in overall favorability among Hispanics.

In a binary race — and let’s face it, presidential general elections are binary choices — one would expect one candidate to rise when another falls. Instead, they have both managed to trip over their own feet as well as the other’s. Rather than celebrate the pinnacle of informed self-government, America appears ready this November to hold its collective nose.

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