Hillary Clinton has advanced among women and consolidated support within her party since her nominating convention, while a difficult few weeks have left Donald Trump still struggling on basic ratings, from his temperament to his qualification for office. She leads him by 8 points in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll.
Trump's ratings in general haven't worsened; they just haven't improved since he claimed the Republican nomination. And the trouble list is long: 79 percent of Americans polled say he doesn't show enough respect for people he disagrees with, 70 percent express anxiety about a Trump presidency, 67 percent think he lacks the personality and temperament it takes to serve effectively, 64 percent doubt his understanding of world affairs, 63 percent see him unfavorably overall, 62 percent say he's not honest and trustworthy, 61 percent think he's unqualified for office, and 60 percent think he's biased against women and minorities.
On his handling of his dispute with the parents of fallen Muslim U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan: 73 percent disapprove, including 59 percent of Republicans.
Clinton has her own challenges in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates: 66 percent say she's too willing to bend the rules, though this has eased by 6 points from last month. She runs only even with Trump in trust to handle two key issues, the economy and terrorism. And she remains vastly unpopular in some groups, notably among white men who don't have a college degree — an economically struggling group.
All told, Clinton leads Trump by 50 to 42 percent among registered voters, regaining a statistically significant lead after leading by a 4 point margin in mid-July. It's quite similar among likely voters, 51 to 44 percent. She also has an 8 point lead in a four-way race including Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein: 45, 37, 8 and 4 percent, respectively, among registered voters.
There have been ups and downs in the race — from +2 for Trump in May to +12 for Clinton in late June — and more certainly are possible. That said, 40 percent can be thought of as the base vote for each major party, and Clinton has been ahead more consistently than Trump. The race between them has averaged 48 to 43 percent in ABC/Post polls. She has ranged from 44 to 51 percent support, while he has seen 39 to 46 percent.
Clinton has improved notably since mid-July among college-educated white women, a critical group in this election; she now leads Trump by 19 points among them, 57 to 38 percent, after roughly an even split last month. Largely because of that shift, Clinton now holds a wide lead, 58 to 35 percent, among women overall (her highest support among women to date), while Trump is +10 among men. And she leads Trump by 6 points among college-educated whites, a group that Democrats have never have won in exit polls dating to 1976.
She has also advanced sharply among white Catholics, another potential swing group, and holds her customary huge lead among nonwhites.
Clinton is now supported by 86 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who preferred Bernie Sanders for the nomination. Trump has done less well in consolidating his base; he's backed by 74 percent of leaning Republicans who favored someone else for their party's nomination. Clinton's backed by 92 percent of mainline Democrats, while Trump does less well, 83 percent, among mainline Republicans.
Things could be worse for Trump, given his difficult post-convention days. He's buttressed by factors such as his big lead among non-college-educated white men, 67 to 25 percent versus Clinton, and the strong pull of ideology, with a 73 to 21 percent Trump lead among conservatives. He's also up by a vast 76 to 18 percent among evangelical white Protestants, a core GOP group, and has improved from July among nonevangelical white Protestants, to 55 percent for Trump, 38 percent for Clinton.
One way to look at preferences is in profile: 56 percent of Trump's supporters are whites who don't have a college degree, versus just 26 percent of Clinton's, and 87 percent of Trump's supporters are whites (regardless of education), versus 56 percent of Clinton's.
Clinton has gained 6 points in favorability from the preconvention ABC/Post poll, from 42 to 48 percent, and her unfavorable rating has dropped from a high of 55 percent in June to 50 percent now. Her current 48-50 percent favorable-unfavorable score, while hardly great, is much better than Trump's and is her best since January.
Trump's favorable-unfavorable rating has not changed significantly since the conventions — 34-63 percent now, versus 31-64 percent before — but he is +5 on favorability, and –7 in unfavorable views, compared with June, after he criticized a federal judge on the basis of his ethnicity. Still, while 42 percent of Americans see Clinton "strongly" unfavorably, that rises to more than half for Trump, 52 percent.
As for others in the political mix, 56 percent see Bill Clinton favorably, suggesting that he can help his wife on the trail. Favorability is much lower for Melania Trump, 33 percent; compared with Bill Clinton, many more have no opinion of her, but among those who do, she is underwater, if not as deeply as her husband.
Vice presidential nominees Mike Pence and Tim Kaine are similarly rated, both more favorably than unfavorably, albeit again with many undecided.
Then there's President Barack Obama; his 55 percent approval rating is essentially the same as in June and July, 56 percent, his highest in ABC/Post polls since 2009. He may also be of help to Hillary Clinton in the campaign ahead.
The results suggest Trump did himself no favors by engaging in a dispute with the Khans after their appearance onstage at the Democratic National Convention. But even if that issue reinforced concerns, it didn't create them. While 79 percent of Americans say Trump does not show enough respect for people he disagrees with, that's essentially the same as it was in May. Similarly, while 60 percent see Trump as biased against women and minorities, it was 56 percent in mid-July.
Trump is also underwater on whether he "goes too far in criticizing other people and groups" or "tells it like it is regardless of whether or not it's politically correct" — 57 to 42 percent. That means that perhaps his strongest rationale for being provocative falls short by 15 points.
Additionally, 40 percent support a temporary ban on Muslims who are not U.S. citizens from entering the United States — a new low but not by a significant margin, with 51 percent opposed. (It was 43 to 52 percent in June.)
A fundamental assessment remains unchanged after the conventions, and it's another troublesome result for Trump: A significant share of Americans, 61 to 38 percent, say he's not qualified to serve as president. (It was essentially the same, 60 to 37 percent, in mid-July.) The numbers are almost exactly the reverse for Clinton — by 60 to 38 percent the public says she is qualified, also the same as before the conventions.
Qualifications are a powerful but not perfect predictor of vote preference. Among registered voters who see Trump as unqualified, 10 percent support him anyway (and 4 percent of those who see Clinton as unqualified support her). Clearly they simply have a bigger beef against the other candidate.
While Trump's "crooked Hillary" tag has resonance, he doesn't own the issue. Fifty-nine percent of Americans see Clinton as not honest and trustworthy, but 62 percent, as noted, say the same about Trump. (There's some overlap: 25 percent see neither as honest and trustworthy, and about as many see both unfavorably.)
Matched head to head, Clinton has the edge among all adults in who's more honest and trustworthy, 49 to 40 percent; this narrows essentially to a dead heat, 46 to 43 percent, among registered voters. In either case, it's Clinton's best versus Trump on this question since ABC/Post polls started asking it in May.
In a related measure, 66 percent see Clinton as "too willing to bend the rules." That has eased a bit from its level in mid-July, 72 percent, shortly after FBI Director James Comey sharply criticized her email practices while secretary of state (though without recommending charges) — but a substantial problem for Clinton nonetheless.
Clinton is much better rated on other personal attributes. Only 31 percent of Americans say Trump has the kind of personality and temperament it takes to serve effectively as president, and just 33 percent say he has a "good understanding of world affairs." By contrast, 61 percent say Clinton has the right personality and temperament, and 72 percent say she has a good grasp of the international situation.
In head-to-head matchups on attributes, Clinton is +9 points versus Trump in who would make the country safer and more secure (51 to 42 percent), +20 points in who "better understands the problems of people like you" (55 to 35 percent) and +32 points in having the better personality and temperament (62 to 30 percent). The gap on making the country safer narrows to an insignificant one among registered voters; the two others hold for Clinton.
One more attribute helps Clinton. For all the success of outsiders Sanders and Trump, Americans by 58 to 39 percent say they would prefer the next president to be "someone who has experience in how the political system works" rather than someone from outside the political establishment. That has widened from 52 to 43 percent in May, and it tracks closely with Clinton/Trump vote preferences.
Given the dings against both candidates, plenty of dissatisfaction continues: 57 percent of Americans say they're dissatisfied with a choice between Clinton and Trump, virtually the same as before the conventions (58 percent).
This also appears in a lack of affirmative support, especially for Trump. Among registered voters, just 40 percent of his backers say they mainly support him; 56 percent instead say they mainly oppose Clinton. More of Clinton's support is affirmative, but still just 49 percent.
Additionally, a remarkable 70 percent continue to say they're anxious about the idea of Trump as president, exactly where it was in June and essentially unchanged all year, with half "very" anxious. Clinton's ratings are hardly stellar, but far fewer express anxiety about her serving as president, 51 percent, again about where it's been all year.
There's another sharp difference between the candidates in their perceived optimism. Reflecting post-convention assessments, 70 percent see Clinton as optimistic about the country's future, while 55 percent see Trump as pessimistic. Americans are more pessimistic than optimistic overall (particularly Republicans and Sanders supporters), 52 to 42 percent. Clinton leads among optimists by a wide margin; Trump leads among pessimists but less broadly.
While personalities are unusually dominant in this election, issues certainly matter too. Clinton leads Trump in trust to handle immigration, international trade, an international crisis and race relations. But they're closer on two others that long have been at the forefront of public concerns, economy and terrorism.
They're also close in terms of trust to handle taxes, and when Democrats are competitive on taxes, they usually do well. But in 2016, history may not be the best precedent. With three months to go, this election has been anything but usual.
This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone Aug. 1 to 4, 2016, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,002 adults, including 815 registered voters. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including the design effect, for the full sample, and 4 points for registered voters. Partisan divisions are 33 percent Democrats, 23 Republicans and 36 independents in the full sample, and 33, 27 and 35 percent, respectively, among registered voters.
The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York City. See details on the survey's methodology here.