Qualifications may be one reason. Among registered voters who don’t see Trump as qualified to be president, just 10 percent support him anyway. Clinton has far less of a problem here because, while 58 percent see Trump as unqualified, just 39 percent say the same about her.
Many express other concerns about Trump – doubts that he has the personality and temperament it takes to serve effectively, questions about his understanding of world affairs, anxiety about a Trump presidency, views that he goes too far in criticizing others and a sense that he’s biased against women and minorities. All, naturally, are related to each other, as well as to vote preferences; among those who see Trump negatively on each of these, 80 percent or more don’t support him.
Nonetheless, when we test them in a statistical model, views of Trump’s qualifications and of his honesty and trustworthiness emerge as the two items among these that carry the most weight in decisions on whether or not to support him for president.
The model also controlled for basic demographics, partisanship, ideology and presidential approval. Evaluations of Obama’s job performance join views of Trump’s qualifications and honesty as the strongest correlates of his support. Assessments of his temperament emerge as unrelated independently to preferences for Trump; the other items, while statistically significant, don’t make quite as much of a difference.
A similar statistical analysis of support for Clinton also points toward Obama’s approval rating and views of her qualifications as top predictors; a difference is that these work to her favor given the president’s popularity and the widespread perception that she is qualified for the job. Assessments of Clinton’s honesty and temperament and anxiety about a Clinton presidency also are relevant, but less important. Her perceived knowledge of world affairs and the belief that she’s “too willing to bend the rules” do not emerge as independently related to her support, given these other factors.
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