Business mogul Donald Trump is a political enigma -- not a politician, but not an unknown figure either, unlike other nonpoliticians seeking the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Now that he has formally announced he’s running, the argument that he’s not going to run (because he never did in the past) is no longer cause for polls to ignore him. Since he’s in the race -- at least for now -- here’s a look at the polling numbers that make Trump the Republican Party’s most disliked candidate.
The numbers suggest Trump has slim chances of actually winning the Republican nomination. However, he has a decent chance of participating in the network debates later in the summer if his national numbers increase slightly.
Polling results suggest Trump is very limited in the amount of support he can get from potential Republican primary voters. In an ABC/Washington Post national poll released at the beginning of June, Trump had amazingly low favorability numbers -- by far the lowest of any candidate. Only 16 percent of all respondents (not restricted to Republicans or likely Republican primary voters) said they viewed Trump favorably, and an overwhelming 71 percent said they viewed him unfavorably. Only former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, with 51 percent rating him unfavorably (32 percent favorable), and current New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, with 48 percent rating him unfavorably (22 percent favorable), came close to Trump’s level of dislike.
A Quinnipiac national poll conducted around the same time shows similar results: 69 percent view Trump unfavorably, and only 20 percent view him favorably. Monmouth University released a national poll Monday that also shows only 20 percent view Trump favorably.
The good news is that his favorability increases among Republicans. The bad news is that the numbers are still low.
Among just self-identified Republicans in the Quinnipiac poll, Trump is the lowest-rated GOP candidate, with 52 percent rating him unfavorably, 34 percent rating him favorably, and 13 percent saying they don't know enough to rate him. As political analyst Harry Enten noted, Trump is a serious outlier in this respect -- his favorables are the worst of any presidential candidate since 1980.
The news for Trump seems to improve a bit later in the same Quinnipiac poll. Only 21 percent said they would “definitely not support” Trump for the GOP nomination. Although this is the highest proportion of nays that any Republican listed received, it’s not shockingly higher than other candidates. Seventeen percent wouldn’t support Bush, and 15 percent wouldn’t support Christie.
But if the question is worded slightly differently to ask how Republicans would feel about voting for each candidate, as it was in a Fox News poll from early June, 59 percent of likely Republican voters nationally said they would “never vote for” Trump. Only 22 percent said they would definitely or might vote for him.
The question of where Trump stands in horse-race “who would you vote for” polling compared to other Republican candidates is probably the least informative question to ask at this point, since it doesn’t indicate chances of winning. But because it’s where most people start when they’re look at polling numbers, and because these numbers will determine who participates in the Republican candidate debates later in the summer and fall, they are important.
As of his announcement on Tuesday, the HuffPost Pollster polling averages showed Trump with a paltry 2 percent support nationally. Trump would be very close to making the cut for the Fox News debate, which requires that a candidate rank in the top 10 based on an average of the last five national polls approved by the network. CNN has more specific participation criteria for its September debate, and announced it will use only polls from certain pollsters. In those polls, Trump remains at 2 percent and needs to gain around 0.4 percent support to move into 10th place and get into the top-tier CNN debate.
In the early state contests, Trump’s numbers look better: He’s averaging 5 percent support in Iowa, putting him in eighth place among the Republican contenders. He’s pulling nearly 10 percent in New Hampshire, good enough for fourth place.
Overall, though, if a majority of your own party’s likely primary voters say they don’t like you and will never vote for you, it’s a bad sign. Trump may be in the debates, but don’t expect him to win.