PRINCETON, N.J. -- The primary and caucus season is taking its toll on the images of three of the major presidential candidates. Republicans Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, in particular, have suffered significant drops in their images over the past two months. Trump continues to have the most negative image of any of the five active presidential candidates. Cruz's image has suffered as much as Trump's, although he remains the better liked of the two GOP contenders.
Hillary Clinton's image has slipped marginally in the past two months, while Bernie Sanders' and John Kasich's ratings have improved. Kasich now has the most positive net favorable rating of any of these five candidates.
These month-by-month image averages are based on Gallup Daily tracking conducted since July, with more than 3,600 U.S. adults rating each candidate each month. The net favorable ratings are based on the difference between those with a favorable opinion and those with an unfavorable opinion of each candidate.
Americans' views of these candidates have fluctuated, but in the past several months, the intense focus of the primary and caucus season has clearly affected the images of all five -- some for the better, and some for the worse.
Trump has always had the worst image of any of these five candidates, and his image has slipped further among Americans since January. His current -35 net favorable rating (30% favorable and 65% unfavorable) is the worst for him in any month since tracking began.
Cruz, like Trump, has seen his image deteriorate in recent months, and Cruz's net favorable score of -16 (based on 32% favorable and 48% unfavorable) is now the second lowest of the five candidates. Cruz used to be significantly more popular; at one point in November, he was basically tied with Kasich and Sanders as having the highest net favorable rating of any of these five candidates.
Clinton's image has been somewhat more stable than both Trump's and Cruz's over the past six months. Her net favorable rating dropped modestly in February and has stayed at that level so far in March. Her current net favorable score of -11 (42% favorable and 53% unfavorable) puts her in the middle of these five.
Kasich and Sanders -- most likely as a result of their not being perceived as front-runners and thus being out of the main focus of campaign brickbats and intense media coverage -- have both seen significant improvement in their images as they have become better known. Both still lag their respective party's front-runner in the percentage of Americans who are familiar with them. They are the only candidates with net favorable images in positive territory. Each now has his most positive rating since tracking began, with Sanders at +10 and Kasich at +19.
Sanders Has Gained Most in Familiarity Since July
Sanders, Kasich and Cruz have all seen their name recognition increase by double digits since July. Kasich remains the least known of any of the candidates, with a familiarity score of 62%, but that is up by 34 percentage points since July. About eight in 10 Americans know of Sanders and Cruz. Sanders' jump from 44% familiarity in July to 82% today is the largest gain among any of these candidates.
Trump and Clinton were already well-known when Gallup tracking began last July. Their familiarity scores have edged up in the months since, and are now at the point where they have nearly universal recognition levels of 94% to 95%.
|Familiar with candidate in July 2015*%||Familiar with candidate in March 2016**%||Gain in familiarity from 2015 to 2016(pct. pts.)|
|* July 8-31, 2015; ** March 1-28, 2016|
|Gallup Daily tracking|
The intense campaign season has clearly affected the images of the remaining presidential candidates, especially Trump and Cruz. Americans now view both in a worse light than in any month since Gallup tracking began last July. Clinton's favorable image is down, but not by nearly as much. At this point in the campaign, notably, front-runners Trump and Clinton both have net negative images among the American public.
Even as they have become better known, Sanders and Kasich have seen their images improve in recent months, although Kasich remains less well-known than any of the other candidates.
Historical data are available in Gallup Analytics.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted on a monthly basis from July 8, 2015, to March 28, 2016, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with each candidate rated each month by a random sample of between 3,648 and 7,302 national adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on each month's total sample of national adults rating each candidate, the margin of sampling error is ±2 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 60% cellphone respondents and 40% 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 the Gallup U.S. Daily works.