Most political and media commentators have at this point installed Donald Trump as the GOP front-runner on the eve of the first actual voting set to begin on Monday in Iowa. But this narrative tends to obscure the fact that Trump is the most unpopular candidate of either party when the entire U.S. population is taken into account — and that he has a higher unfavorable rating than any nominated candidate from either of the two major parties going back to the 1992 election when we began to track favorability using the current format.
At this point (two-week average through Jan. 27), 33% of Americans view Trump favorably and 60% unfavorably. It’s that 60% unfavorable figure that I can focus on here.
Hillary Clinton currently has a 52% unfavorable rating among all Americans, while Jeb Bush is at 45%, Chris Christie 38%, Ted Cruz 37%, Marco Rubio 33%, Bernie Sanders 31% and Ben Carson 30%. Trump’s 60% is clearly well above all of these. Putting his favorable and unfavorable ratings together yields a net favorable of -27 for Trump, far above the -10 for Clinton and for Bush, the next lowest among the major candidates.
I wanted to see how Trump’s unfavorable played out in the context of previous elections, so I went back to look at the unfavorable ratings of the major-party candidates from 1992 through the current election. The bottom line is that Trump now has a higher unfavorable rating than any candidate at any time during all of these previous election cycles, and that conclusion takes into account the fact that unfavorable ratings tend to rise in the heat of a general election campaign as the barbs, negative ads and heightened partisanship are taken to their highest levels. Gallup routinely reports favorable ratings based on national adults, but some of the favorable ratings in the final months of an election year that I discuss below are based on registered voters. (Read more from “A Poll Just Revealed How America Really Feels About Trump – He’s Not Going to Like This” HERE)