I cannot recall a campaign season even remotely like this one, where the majority of American voters dislike both frontrunners. This was hinted at following the Florida primary and is confirmed by a recent CBS News/New York Times poll:
Compared to frontrunners in previous presidential primary races, Trump and Clinton’s unfavorable ratings (57 percent and 52 percent respectively) are the highest in CBS News/New York Times Polls going back to 1984, when CBS began asking this question.
Perhaps, not surprisingly, most Democrats have negative views of Trump and a majority of Republicans view Clinton unfavorably. But more than half of independents have unfavorable views of both candidates. Clinton is viewed more positively by members of her own party than Trump is by his. Six in 10 Democrats have a favorable opinion of Clinton; just about half of Republicans have a favorable opinion of Trump.
So the difference between Hillary Clinton’s unfavorable rating and that of Donald Trump is that she has a higher favorable rating among her own party members than Trump does among his. But there isn’t a single previous candidate since 1984 that is even close in unfavorable ratings to either of this year’s front-runners. The previous high was a paltry 41% unfavorable, shared by several candidates.
Hillary Clinton tends to beat Trump in nationwide polls. Of course, in the past, polls that were taken at this point in time in a campaign have not been predictive of very much. However, unlike in many years, the public is very familiar with both of these front-runners and has been for a very long time, which might mean that attitudes towards them are more entrenched and quite recalcitrant to change. And it may well be that the biggest reason that Hillary does better in head-to-head polls against Trump is because she draws more Democratic support than he draws Republican support.
[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]