Opinion writer

(Reuters/Jim Young)

THE MORNING PLUM:

Americans hate their two leading choices for president, which means we’re headed for a general election bloodbath of negativity that will lead Americans to hate politics even more! Why are the two parties foisting such awful, despised figures upon the poor voters, who just want leaders they can feel good about?

At least, this is the lament we regularly hear. But it isn’t that simple. In reality, for now, at least, there’s no real equivalence between the negative views of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. While Clinton certainly has problems in this regard, Trump fares far, far worse.

The new Washington Post/ABC News poll illustrates this neatly. It finds that Donald Trump’s unfavorable numbers have climbed to a new high: 70 percent of Americans have an unfavorable impression of Trump, versus only 29 percent (fewer than one-third!) who have a favorable impression. Clinton’s negatives, too, have hit a new high of 55 percent.

But look at Trump’s numbers among various voter groups. Trump is viewed unfavorably by 73 percent of moderates; 77 percent of women; 89 percent of Hispanics; 88 percent of nonwhites; 75 percent of voters under 40; 59 percent of whites; 71 percent of white college graduates, 67 percent of white women, and even 52 percent of white men and 53 percent of non-college whites.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump often repeats controversial theories and conspiracies, but distances himself from blame with a few key phrases. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

Needless to say, those numbers would appear to complicate Trump’s hopes of riding a wave of white backlash into the White House. In fact, according to the crosstabs, among the only groups who view Trump favorably are non-college white men, by 52-46. As noted above, he’s underwater with white women and white men writ large, and even with non-college whites when both genders are taken into account. That’s because he’s also viewed unfavorably by 60 percent of white women without a college degree.

Clinton certainly has problems. Notably, she’s viewed unfavorably by 58 percent of voters under 40, though this could partly reflect a hangover among Bernie Sanders supporters that could improve. She is viewed unfavorably by 68 percent of whites, which is bad.

But she does better among some of her core groups than Trump does among his. Trump is underwater among many constituencies that should be a natural part of his coalition (whites overall, white women of both the college and non-college variety, blue collar whites). But Clinton actually does comparatively well among some of her key constituencies. She’s viewed favorably among women by 51-47, among Hispanics by 64-34, and among nonwhites by 66-32. While she is viewed unfavorably by 59 percent of white college grads, which is bad, Trump fares worse, at 71 percent. And while Trump is in a deep hole among moderates, Clinton is tied among them at 49-49.

Overall, as Post polling guru Scott Clement puts it: “Trump’s unfavorable rating, in fact, far surpasses Hillary Clinton’s even as the presumptive Democratic nominee receives her worst ratings in more than two decades in public life.”

Now, in fairness, Trump has informed us that talking about terrorism helps him in the polls, and he has certainly been talking about terrorism a lot lately. This poll was taken almost entirely before the Orlando shooting, so it’ll be worth watching to see if his numbers improve in future polls.

But for now, these numbers suggest once again that Trump, after becoming the presumptive GOP nominee, has not yet had any success at broadening his appeal to the national electorate. In fact, he appears to be sliding backwards. And yet, if anything has become clear in recent days — given that he has doubled down on his Muslim ban and broadened the case that Obama is tacitly rooting for the terrorists — Trump appears fully convinced that the approach that served him well among GOP primary voters will also win over the general election audience, with no need to adjust it even one iota.

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* WHAT BERNIE AND HILLARY WANT FROM EACH OTHER: With Hillary Clinton winning the D.C. primary by a huge margin last night, here, courtesy of the New York Times, is a glimpse into the thinking in both camps about what is next:

Two advisers to Mr. Sanders described him as concerned that Mrs. Clinton might say all the right things now but embrace more politically moderate positions later if she thinks it necessary to win states like Florida, Ohio and Virginia….Whether Mr. Sanders endorses her enthusiastically and campaigns for her, or recognizes her as the nominee but otherwise withholds his blessing, is a significant concern for some Clinton advisers.

This seems like a reasonable concern on Sanders’s part. The question is whether the Clinton team will actually feel any genuine pressure to address it, or whether they think they can win without an overtly “enthusiastic” Sanders endorsement.

 * WHAT’S NEXT FOR SANDERS AND HIS MOVEMENT: MSNBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald neatly sums it up:

He’s said repeatedly that he’s prepared to help the Democratic Party stop Donald Trump. The question is how. Aides say they’re still working that out, aware that some of his most die-hard supporters will view an endorsement of Clinton as capitulation. Sanders will address supporters Thursday on a teleconference, during which he’s expected to discuss his future. No matter what, he has earned a place in shaping the future of the Democratic Party.

The key thing to watch is whether Sanders’s next steps maximize the influence he has rightfully earned, or squander it.

* SANDERS SEEMS TO HAVE CONCEDED NOMINATION: The Post observes:

Absent from his rhetoric of late is a vow to stay in the race to make a last-ditch attempt to win the nomination by flipping the allegiances of hundreds of superdelegates who have announced their support for Clinton. Sanders has said little about that strategy in recent days, and there has been no evidence that he is actively pursuing it.

I’ve heard no indications from Democrats that he is still trying to flip the super-dels, which means it’s all about keeping alive his influence at this point.

* CLINTON FACES CHALLENGE IN UNITING DEMS: Another important nugget from today’s new Post poll:

One-quarter of self-identified Democrats say they have an unfavorable view of Clinton (25 percent) — a number little changed from 21 percent in May despite Clinton clinching the party’s nomination last week. Clinton’s negative ratings peak among Democrats under age 50 (31 percent, vs. 18 percent for those 50 and older) who have been more supportive of Sanders in the primary contests this year.

The question is what Clinton and Sanders — both will have a part to play — are prepared to do to change this.

 * MORE REPUBLICANS CRINGE OVER TRUMP: The Post finds that senators Bob Corker and Ron Johnson are the latest Republicans to express unease with Trump’s response to the Orlando shooting, which included the suggestion that Obama is tacitly siding with terrorists:

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker…expressed serious unease Tuesday with how Trump responded to a national tragedy. “Traditionally, it is a time when people rally around our country, and it’s obviously not what’s occurred, and it’s very disappointing,” Corker said….Sen. Ron Johnson, who faces a challenging reelection bid, also called Trump’s insinuations about the president “offensive.”

As noted yesterday, Trump’s insinuations about Obama will make it harder for Republicans to stand by even his less controversial utterances.

* TRUMP IS NOT DOING TOO WELL WITH WOMEN: The new Bloomberg poll, which shows Clinton leading Trump by 49-37 nationally, also includes these two important nuggets:

The former secretary of state is far from universally loved, but the share of likely voters who say they could never vote for her — 43 percent — is much lower than Trump’s 55 percent. Other troubling findings for Trump in poll include how 63 percent of women say they could never vote for him.

So 55 percent overall, including 63 percent of women, could never vote for Trump? The women love him! Seriously, also watch the polling averages, which show Clinton up over five points.

* AND REPUBLICANS HOPE TRUMP’S ‘PERSONA’ IS AN ASSET: Politico reports on the contrast between the GOP and Dem strategies: Dems hope organization carries the day in the battlegrounds, while Republicans are counting on Trump’s personality:

GOP chairs across the swing states…view Trump as a lightning rod for the anger of economically struggling Americans — particularly the white working class — and, despite his flaws, they can envision him causing a dramatic break from conventional voting patterns that will carry him to victory in November….Deployed the right way, Trump’s force-of-nature persona could help flip some long-blue states toward the GOP, others said.

This white-working-class strategy is demographically implausible. Also: If anything, Trump’s “force-of-nature persona” is actually further alienating general election constituencies, as our lead item demonstrates.