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Election 2016
Ratings of Trump Campaign Worst in Recent Election Years
Election 2016

Ratings of Trump Campaign Worst in Recent Election Years

by Jim Norman
Chart: data points are described in article

Story Highlights

  • Sixty-nine percent dissatisfied with Trump campaign
  • Public split on satisfaction with Clinton campaign
  • Fifty-nine percent find campaign tone "very negative"

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As Republican nominee Donald Trump enters the home stretch of his campaign for the U.S. presidency, more than two-thirds of Americans say they are dissatisfied with the way his campaign has been conducted. This level of dissatisfaction is 21 percentage points higher than for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's campaign and 10 points higher than for any nominee's since Gallup first asked the question in 2000.

Satisfaction With Campaigns Takes a Dive in 2016
Are you generally satisfied or dissatisfied with the way [ROTATED: Hillary Clinton's campaign/Donald Trump's campaign] has been conducted?
Satisfied Dissatisfied
% %
Hillary Clinton 50 48
Donald Trump 29 69
Barack Obama 58 37
Mitt Romney 54 41
Barack Obama 66 31
John McCain 40 59
John Kerry 51 46
George W. Bush 55 42
Al Gore 61 30
George W. Bush 58 31

The campaign that garnered the highest dissatisfaction other than Trump's was Republican nominee John McCain's in 2008, at 59%. Clinton's is the next highest at 48%.

On the flip side, the largest percentage to be satisfied came in 2008, when 66% expressed satisfaction with Barack Obama's campaign. The 29% who say they are satisfied with Trump's campaign is the lowest, followed by McCain's 40%.

Barely half of Republicans (51%) say they are satisfied with Trump's campaign, compared with 81% of Democrats satisfied with the Clinton campaign. Trump's tempestuous campaign this year has put him at odds with both Clinton supporters and leaders of his party. The two highest ranking Republicans in Congress, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, denounced Trump's call last December to ban all Muslims from the U.S. Ryan has criticized Trump's comments on several occasions and has avoided public appearances with the presidential nominee. Numerous Republicans have said they would not vote for Trump, including 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Taken together, 27% of Americans say they are dissatisfied with both campaigns, and 8% are satisfied with both. These numbers represent a stark contrast to four years ago when 9% were dissatisfied and 24% were satisfied with both campaigns.

Two major groups driving the overall dissatisfaction with the campaigns are Republicans and whites.

More Republicans (47%) are dissatisfied with Trump's campaign than with any of the last four GOP candidates, and more are dissatisfied with Clinton's campaign (82%) than with Democratic candidates in the last four elections. Among whites, majorities are dissatisfied with both Clinton's (60%) and Trump's (63%) campaigns. Democrats are no more likely to be dissatisfied with Clinton than they were with the Democratic candidates in 2004 or 2000.

Public Overwhelmingly Sees Campaign's Tone as Negative

Given high levels of dissatisfaction with the campaign, it is not surprising that 77% of the public believes this year's presidential campaign has been at least somewhat negative in tone. This percentage is 27 points higher than in any of the previous three elections (2000, 2004 and 2008) when Gallup asked the question. Fifty-nine percent say the tone has been "very negative," more than double the same responses in the three other elections.

Campaign Tone Turns More Negative
How would you describe the tone of the presidential campaign so far? Would you say it has been mostly positive, about equally positive and negative, or mostly negative in tone? Would you say that it has been very negative or somewhat negative?
2000 2004 2008 2016
% % % %
Mostly positive 26 13 11 7
Equally positive and negative 55 37 37 15
Somewhat negative 12 25 24 18
Very negative 3 23 26 59

There is widespread agreement across political and demographic groups that the 2016 presidential campaign's tone has been at least somewhat negative:

  • Seventy-four percent of Democrats, 78% of independents and 79% of Republicans say this.
  • Seventy-nine percent of women and 75% of men say this.
  • Seventy-nine percent of those ages 18-34, 76% of those 35-54 and 77% of those 55 and older say this.

Bottom Line

As the presidential campaign approaches the finish line, Americans are looking back with displeasure on the way the candidates ran their campaigns and on the overall tenor of the race. While almost half of Americans are dissatisfied with Clinton's campaign, that is far better than the 69% who are dissatisfied with Trump's campaign.

That wide disparity in Clinton's favor may not guarantee her an election win because the public is still split on which candidate is better on the important issues. But there is little doubt about how Americans will view the campaign's conduct once it is over. The question now is whether the long slide from the campaign of 2000, which only 15% saw as negative, to 2016, when 77% feel this way, will result in a move to improve the tone of future elections or whether it marks the new reality of presidential politics in the U.S.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Oct. 27-28, 2016, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 945 registered voters, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of registered voters, 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 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 Poll Social Series works.

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