Here’s what is striking about this potential choice. Clinton and Trump would be the two weakest candidates to face each other in a general election for president, certainly in recent history. If you look at the simple (and important) metric of personal favorability, Clinton’s and Trump’s popularity with voters is historically low. In the most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, both candidates’ favorable ratings were “underwater,” meaning more people dislike them than like them. Clinton’s favorable rating is 46 percent, and her unfavorable rating is 52 percent. And Trump’s favorable rating is 30 percent and his unfavorable is 67 percent. Even more stunning is Trump’s “strongly” unfavorable rating among 56 percent of all Americans (these are people who would crawl over broken glass to vote against him). Really stunning.
To see just how unpopular these candidates are relative to some of their predecessors, consider that in October 2004, John Kerry was at 52 percent favorable and 45 percent unfavorable, while George W. Bush was at 55 percent favorable and 44 percent unfavorable; in October 2008, Barack Obama was at 62 percent favorable and 34 percent unfavorable, while John McCain was at 55 percent favorable and 40 percent unfavorable; and in September 2012, Obama was at 55 percent favorable and 44 percent unfavorable, while Mitt Romney was at 47 percent favorable and 48 percent unfavorable.
So whatever happens tonight, both Democrats and Republicans have reason for worry if their “favorites” prevail, but Republicans should be panicked.