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Campaign Challenges Aside, Clinton's Image With Dems Stable

Campaign Challenges Aside, Clinton's Image With Dems Stable

Story Highlights

  • Clinton's net favorable score still much higher than other Dems
  • Bernie Sanders still known by about half of Democrats
  • Other three candidates still a mystery to most Democrats

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Democrats' overall opinions of the major Democratic contenders for president have changed little despite six eventful weeks of campaigning. Hillary Clinton remains the best liked among her party faithful. She enjoys a net favorable score of +60, which is essentially where she stood in July. Bernie Sanders is still the next best-liked candidate in the field, with his net favorable stable at +29.

Democratic Presidential Candidates: Net Favorables*

The other three candidates have low net favorable scores among Democrats, partly attributable to their relative anonymity, which showed no signs of change over this period. Aug. 18 marked the sixth week Gallup has been tracking Americans' opinions of 21 candidates who have announced their candidacy for the 2016 presidential nomination of a major party.

Over the course of 2015, Sanders has seen the biggest increase in his favorability rating among Democrats, consequently causing his net favorable score to increase from +13 in March to +29 in July. But for the time period beginning Jul. 8 to Aug. 18, Democrats' views of their party's presidential candidates have been remarkably stable, even as the campaign heats up in unexpected ways. Most notably, Clinton continues to field serious inquiries about her email use as secretary of state. Activists have also confronted several candidates, including Sanders and Clinton, to draw attention to their racial justice agenda. At the same time, Sanders' campaign has had a strong summer, with tens of thousands of supporters flocking to the Vermont senator's events across the country. And Clinton has made major policy addresses on education and the economy.

But if any of this is affecting Democrats' overall impression of the candidates, it is not yet discernable. Clinton remains not only the best-liked candidate, but she is also by far the most well-known. Nine in 10 Democrats consistently know enough about her to express an opinion. Sanders remains a distant second in familiarity and has not become any better known to Democrats. In the last two-week period, from Aug. 5-18, about half of Democrats were familiar with Sanders (47%), which is similar to his familiarity in July.

Democratic Presidential Candidates: Familiarity*

The other three candidates are largely unknown to Democrats. In the last two weeks of data, 25% were familiar with Jim Webb, 24% with Martin O'Malley and 21% with Lincoln Chafee.

Bottom Line

The Democratic presidential campaign arguably has not produced quite the same drama that the Republican field has. Periodic bouts of interest or intrigue have emerged, such as Clinton's email scandal and Sanders' growing campaign rallies in the early primary states.

But in recent weeks, Democrats' ratings of the Democratic presidential candidates' images have been highly stable. Clinton is the best-liked candidate running for president among Democrats, as her steady, towering net favorable score demonstrates. Sanders clearly leads the rest of the field in both overall familiarity and favorability, but he still lags well behind Clinton on both metrics. And the images of all five candidates have seen virtually no change since early July, despite ongoing news coverage of their campaigns. But it is early in the process, and the Democrats, unlike the GOP field, have yet to hold a nationally televised debate. It would be premature to say these dynamics are locked in place, but thus far, little has changed.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted July 8-Aug. 18, 2015, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 8,712 Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Each candidate was rated by a random subset of respondents during this period, with the sample sizes rating each candidate averaging more than 3,000 Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents. Sample sizes of Democrats rating each of the candidates within each of the three time periods ranged between 878 and 1,015. For results based on the total sample of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, aged 18 and older, rating each candidate at each time period, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

Learn more about how Gallup Daily tracking works.

Democratic Presidential Candidate Favorability Ratings: Aug. 5-18, 2015

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