Clinton Goes Under Water; Trump Polarization Grows (POLL)

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Negative views of Hillary Clinton have jumped to nearly their highest on record in ABC News/Washington Post polls, while Donald Trump’s personal popularity has grown more polarized along racial and ethnic lines.

Clinton’s favorability has burbled back under water: 45 percent of Americans now see her favorably, down 7 percentage points since midsummer, while 53 percent rate her unfavorably, up 8. Her unfavorable score is a single point from its highest in ABC/Post polls dating back 23 years; that came in April 2008, in the midst of her last presidential campaign.

See PDF with full results, charts and tables here.

Trump is much farther under water than Clinton, rated favorably by 37 percent of Americans and unfavorably by 59 percent. That reflects a slight 4-point rise in favorability since mid-July, entirely among whites, +6 points. Nonwhites see Trump negatively by a vast 17-79 percent, unchanged among Hispanics and more negative among blacks, by 16 points, since midsummer.

That said, whites are the majority group –- 64 percent of the adult population -– and they now divide evenly on Trump, 48-49 percent, favorable-unfavorable. Clinton, by contrast, is far more unpopular than Trump among whites, 34-65 percent. So while racial and ethnic polarization is on the rise in views of Trump, it remains even higher for Clinton.

Given their support profiles -– Clinton’s more popular in groups that are less likely to be registered -– the difference in her and Trump’s popularity narrows among registered voters. In this group Clinton’s favorable-unfavorable score is 43-56 percent (-13 points); Trump’s is 40-58 percent (-18). Negative views of Clinton among registered voters are up by 10 points from July, while Trump’s ratings in this group are essentially unchanged.

Two others were tested in this survey, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates:

Jeb Bush, even while generating far less controversy than Trump, is seen almost as negatively, by 17 points overall, 38-55 percent. Bush’s favorable rating is flat while his unfavorable score is up 8 points since July, including 9-point increases among Republicans and independents alike. He’s also lost ground among conservatives, and is especially weak among strong conservatives, a group in which Trump far surpasses Bush.

Joe Biden lands an even score, 46-46 percent. He hasn’t announced candidacy, a move that can sharpen divisions as candidates start staking out positions on controversial issues, catching flak and aiming some of their own.

Favorability taps into a public figure’s basic overall image; a negative score indicates thin ice. Clinton’s has been especially uneven, from as high as 67 percent favorable during her tenure as secretary of state to as low as 44 percent in spring 2008 and 45 percent now.

Clinton was somewhat better rated at roughly this time in the 2008 cycle: In November 2007 she had a 50-46 percent favorable-unfavorable rating. Barack Obama’s was 51-36 percent, John McCain’s 43-42 percent. All, then, were better off than Clinton, Trump or Bush today. Among other factors –- including increasing partisan and political polarization – this was before the economic collapse of 2008 that pushed public frustration into a deep trough from which it has yet to recover in full.

More Race/Ethnicity

Hispanics divide about evenly on Bush, 43-46 percent, a much less negative rating than Trump’s but still a 15-point increase in unfavorable views since July. That said, Bush’s negative rating is up among whites as well, by 9 points.

Clinton is seen far more positively by Hispanics than are Trump, Bush or even Biden; she’s also highly popular among blacks. But, after a period of missteps chiefly focused on her handling of e-mails as secretary of state, her unfavorable rating is up by 14 points even among blacks. Her main trouble, regardless, rests in the fact that she’s so broadly unpopular among whites.

Party ID

Clinton is particularly strong in her party, seen favorably by 80 percent of Democrats. But her unfavorable rating has increased by 10 points among independents since midsummer, moving from an even split in July to a 20-point net negative score in this group now. Only Bush does worse among independents.

Trump and Bush alike continue to be seen more favorably than unfavorably within their party, by 59-38 and 57-39 percent, respectively. But that’s far behind Clinton’s intramural score, as well as Biden’s (70 percent favorable among Democrats). While negative views of Bush have gained among Republicans and independents, Trump’s held steady within the party, and his +6 in favorability among independents, while not statistically significant, is directionally opposite from Bush.

Other Groups

Among other groups, Bush’s unfavorable rating has increased by 14 points among conservatives since midsummer, he’s at 44-50 percent favorable-unfavorable in this group, while Trump’s held more or less steady at 52-44 percent. The gap is especially wide among strong conservatives -– a 39-57 percent score for Bush, negative by 18 points, vs. 61-37 percent for Trump, positive by 24 points.

Additional trouble for Clinton, meanwhile, is reflected in 11-point increases in her unfavorable rating among women and liberals. And among Trump’s challenges is a decidedly poor rating among young adults; 70 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds see Trump unfavorably, up 12 points since midsummer.

Strength of Sentiment

Strength of sentiment is more negative than positive for all these figures. While 21 percent of Americans see Clinton “strongly” favorably, more, 39 percent see her strongly unfavorably, an 18-point gap. It’s an 11-point gap for Biden (15 percent strongly favorable, 26 percent strongly unfavorable) and 22 points for Bush (just 7 percent strongly favorable, 29 percent strongly unfavorable).

But the gap is biggest for Trump: Sixteen percent of Americans see him strongly favorably while 43 percent see him strongly unfavorably, a 27-point margin for strongly negative sentiment.

See additional data tables here.


This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cell phone Aug. 26-30, 2015, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,005 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points. The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by SSRS of Media, Pa. See details on the survey’s methodology here.