BAD NEWS: For Republicans

“Several recent stories, like this one from the Washington Post’s Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, report that influential Republicans have become increasingly resigned to the prospect of Donald Trump as their nominee. One theme in these stories is that the GOP “donor class” seems to have persuaded itself that Trump might not be such a bad general election candidate. On that point, the donor class is probably wrong. It’s hard to say exactly how well (or poorly) Trump might fare as the Republican nominee … But Trump would start at a disadvantage: Most Americans just really don’t like the guy … [Contrary to] Rupert Murdoch’s assertion about Trump having crossover appeal, Trump is extraordinarily unpopular with independent voters and Democrats. Gallup polling conducted over the past six weeks found Trump with a -27-percentage-point net favorability rating among independent voters, and a -70-point net rating among Democrats; both marks are easily the worst in the GOP field. (Trump also has less-than-spectacular favorable ratings among his fellow Republicans.)


Favorability ratings can vary quite a bit from pollster to pollster, however, so I went back and collected a broader array of data. Specifically, I took an average of each candidate’s favorability ratings in polls from the Huffington Post Pollster database since Nov. 1.1

Republican favorability, average since Nov. 1  – Source: Huffington Post Pollster
Ben Carson 37 37 0
Marco Rubio 34 35 -1
Ted Cruz 32 39 -7
John Kasich 20 27 -7
Carly Fiorina 28 36 -8
Mike Huckabee 28 40 -12
Chris Christie 31 44 -13
Rand Paul 26 42 -16
Rick Santorum 22 44 -22
Jeb Bush 29 51 -22
Donald Trump 33 58 -25

We’ve got an unpopular set of presidential candidates this year– Bernie Sanders is the only candidate in either party with a net-positive favorability rating — but Trump is the most unpopular of all.

Democratic favorability, average since Nov. 1 – Source: Huffington Post Pollster
Bernie Sanders 38 35 +3
Hillary Clinton 42 50 -8
Martin O’Malley 18 29 -11

This is not just a recent phenomenon; Trump’s favorability ratings have been consistently poor. It’s true that his favorability numbers improved quite a bit among Republicans once he began running for president. But those gains were almost exactly offset by declines among independents and Democrats. In fact, his overall favorability ratings have been just about unchanged since he began running for president in June:


Head-to-head polls of hypothetical general election matchups have almost no predictive power at this stage of the campaign, but for what it’s worth, Trump tends to fare relatively poorly in those too. On average,2 in polls since Nov. 1, Trump trails Clinton by 5 percentage points, while Clinton and Marco Rubio are tied.

Nate Silver is the founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.