Which presidential candidate is seen most unfavorably? Not Hillary Clinton

Amidst all the different questions asked about presidential candidates, this last summer the media seemed drawn to the one that asks if a candidate is seen favorably or unfavorably. And there’s been a huge amount of press about Hillary Clinton’s favorables falling, even as she leads in nearly all nomination and general election polls.

So you might be surprised to see which candidate is seen least favorably.

Of four candidates asked about by the highly respected Washington Post-ABC News poll, the Republican candidates were seen more unfavorably than the Democratic candidates.

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  • Biden, who isn’t running, was seen favorably by 46% and unfavorably by 46%.
  • Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, was seen favorably by 45% and unfavorably by 53%, with a net -8 favorability.
  • Bush, once seen as the front-runner, was seen favorably by 38% and unfavorably by 55%, with a net -17 favorability.
  • Trump, the current front-runner, was seen favorably by 37% and unfavorably by 59%, with a net -22 favorability.

Donald Trump is seen the most unfavorably.

And, yes, it makes no sense that the poll didn’t include Bernie Sanders, the Democratic candidate closest to Hillary Clinton.

By the way, just among Democrats, Clinton was seen more favorably than Biden, with 80% seeing her favorably, compared to 70% for Biden. And she’s doing better in her party than Trump and Bush are in theirs.

Both Biden and Clinton garner favorable ratings above 80 percent among liberal Democrats, but among moderate and conservative Democrats, Clinton’s 3-to-1 positive ratio outstrips Biden’s 2-to-1.

Clinton is also more popular with Democrats than Donald Trump or Jeb Bush among their base; each candidate’s favorable ratings among Republicans stand below 60 percent. [source]

So, although pundits seem to go on quite a lot about Clinton’s favorables having declined, she’s ahead of the top Republican candidates.

By the numbers, Clinton’s net favorables are 9 percentage points better than Bush’s and an even larger amount — 14 percentage points — better than Trump’s.

More people see Clinton favorably than either Trump or Bush and fewer see her unfavorably.

Moreover, the population tends to agree with Democratic policy views over Republicans’ perspectives, particularly on kitchen table issues like jobs, Social Security, education and health care.

Thus it shouldn’t be surprising that Clinton leads the potential GOP challengers.

[Note: The Post-ABC poll was conducted August 26-30, 2015 among a random national sample of 1,005 adults, interviewed on conventional and cellular phones. The results from the full survey have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. See full question wording and methodology.]

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Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.