Trump's Unpopularity Stays Sky High; Cruz Hits a High in Negative Ratings (POLL)

Donald Trump ranks is the most unpopular top-tier candidate in history.

ByABC News
April 14, 2016, 7:00 AM

— -- Donald Trump ranks as the most unpopular top-tier presidential contender in more than 30 years of ABC News/Washington Post polls, trailing only former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke among presidential candidates in any election year since 1984.

At the same time, the unpopularity of Trump’s main rival, Ted Cruz, has reached its highest level yet this election cycle. John Kasich breaks even in basic popularity, with many – at this late stage of the primary season – still yet to form an opinion of the Ohio governor.

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Trump’s seen unfavorably by 67 percent of Americans in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. That’s unchanged from last month and slightly off his high, 71 percent unfavorable in an ABC/Post poll nearly year ago. A majority strongly dislikes him, also unprecedented for a leading candidate.

Duke was rated unfavorably by 69 percent of Americans in an ABC/Post poll in February 1992; he went on to win fewer than 120,000 votes, and no delegates in his bid for that year’s GOP presidential nomination. Trump has won more than 8 million votes to date.

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Within his party, 56 percent of Republicans see Trump favorably, and it’s similar for Cruz, 58 percent, while lower for the lesser-known Kasich, 47 percent. The difference among all adults is that independents and especially Democrats hold more negative views of Trump than of either of his competitors. Kasich has the most cross-partisan appeal.

Notably, about four in 10 Republicans see each of these candidates unfavorably. For comparison, Mitt Romney was seen favorably by 69 percent of Republicans at this time in 2012 and unfavorably by just 20 percent.

The leading Democratic candidate also is under water. Hillary Clinton was seen unfavorably by 52 percent in an ABC/Post poll last month, 2 percentage points from her worst, 54 percent unfavorable in April 2008. That was the highest unpopularity in ABC/Post polling for any Democratic Party candidate in an election year, albeit still far lower than Trump’s.

Other presidential candidates with high unfavorable ratings have included Pat Buchanan with 60 percent in 2000, Ross Perot with 58 percent in 1996, Jeb Bush with 58 percent this cycle, Newt Gingrich with 56 percent in 2012 and Romney with 52 percent, also in 2012. Other than Hillary Clinton, no Democratic presidential candidate has had election-year negative ratings higher than 50 percent.

Among nominees (rather than candidates) the election-year high for a Republican was 53 percent unfavorable for George H.W. Bush during his unsuccessful re-election bid in 1992. Among Democrats, it was Walter Mondale’s 49 percent negative rating on his way to a general election drubbing at the hands of Ronald Reagan in 1984. (Barack Obama hit 50 percent unfavorable in December 2011, a month before that election year began.)

Highly negative views of 2016’s leading candidates may reflect the hyperpartisan climate that has been building in recent years, also evident in previously unseen levels of ideological polarization among primary voters this year. There’s also the level of in-party factionalism this year, especially on the Republican side.