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Behind the Numbers
Posted at 10:24 AM ET, 04/22/2008

Unfavorables on the Rise

As the 2008 presidential nomination battle makes its final stop in the Northeast today, opinions about the major players in the race have begun to head south.

As the Post has noted, the percentage rating each of the three presidential candidates unfavorably has climbed since voting began in January according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll. But much of the increase has occurred among those who express strongly unfavorable views of each candidate, and for some, there are worrisome demographic trends behind sinking overall ratings.

Nearly four in 10 said they have sharply negative views of Hillary Clinton, up 10 points since January; a quarter had strongly unfavorable views of Barack Obama (an increase of nine points) and two in 10 said the same of John McCain (up eight points).

Former president Bill Clinton, who has been heavily involved in his wife's campaign, has not escaped the spreading discontent. A third said their views on the 42nd president are strongly negative, up seven points since January.

Overall, 54 percent viewed Hillary Clinton negatively, her highest level in Post-ABC polling, and 51 percent had an unfavorable view on her husband, his highest level since leaving office.

As Dan Balz noted yesterday over on The Trail, Hillary Clinton's ratings have taken their biggest hit among independents, flipping from 59 percent favorable to 58 percent unfavorable in just over three months.

But even among Democrats, her favorability fell 10 points and her "strong" favorables declined from 55 percent to 41 percent.

Racial tensions provoked during the hotly contested nomination fight may be a big factor (check out Krissah Williams's take on this for a deeper examination ). Clinton's ratings among black Democrats have fallen precipitously, from 55 percent strongly favorable in January to 24 percent in the latest poll.

Some of the shine is off the "first black president" as well: 37 percent of black Democrats held "strongly favorable" views of Bill Clinton in this poll, about half as many as did so at the beginning of the campaign.

Overall favorability ratings for both Clintons have declined double-digits among African American Democrats.

Despite these faltering ratings, Hillary Clinton's favorability among Democrats is equivalent to Obama's, about three-quarters viewed each favorably, although Obama held a slightly higher "strongly favorable" rating, 48 percent, about the same as it was in January.

But Obama's stable ratings mask the shifts occurring among some groups he's tried hard to reach out to in Pennsylvania. Among white Democrats without college degrees and those in households with incomes of less than $50,000 per year, his overall favorability rating has remained the same since January, but the percentage rating him strongly unfavorable has grown double-digits.

The candidate with the least on the line today, presumptive Republican nominee John McCain, hit a high-point in favorability among his own partisans, with 81 percent of Republicans expressing positive views of the Arizona senator and 66 percent of conservatives agreeing. Among independents, McCain's favorability dipped to 51 percent from a career high of 60 in mid-January.

UPDATE: After the jump, crosstabs on Clinton and Obama among Democrats.

Q: Do you have a favorable or unfavorable impression of:
Hillary Clinton, Among Democrats:
                                 Strongly   Str. Unfav.
                   Fav.   Unfav.   Unfav.      Change*
White               74      24       12          +7
Black               70      29       16         +13

Income among whites:
Less than $50,000   77      23       11          +7
$50,000 or more     73      25       12          +7

Education among whites:
No college degree   75      24       12          +5
College graduate    73      25       10          +9

Age:
18-34               73      27       11          +6
35-54               78      21        9          +4
55+                 72      25       15         +11
Barack Obama, Among Democrats:
                                 Strongly   Str. Unfav.
                   Fav.   Unfav.   Unfav.      Change*
White               72      24       16          +6
Black               90       9        7          +3

Income among whites:
Less than $50,000   61      37       29         +15
$50,000 or more     80      14        6          -2

Education among whites:
No college degree   65      30       23         +10
College graduate    84      13        4          -1

Age:
18-34               84      14        9          +6
35-54               74      23       11           0
55+                 71      23       17          +5
*Change is from Washington Post-ABC News January survey.

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  10:24 AM ET, 04/22/2008

Categories:  Post Polls

 
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