The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Your next president probably isn’t very popular back home

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), right, arrive at a campaign event for Walker at the Republican field office in Hudson, Wis., on Sept. 29. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
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The 2016 presidential campaign begins in less than a month, for all intents and purposes.

Unfortunately for many/most of the hopefuls, though, they won't exactly slide into the campaign riding high.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) was the latest hopeful to see his numbers slide when, on Tuesday, the Washington Post released a poll showing him underwater in his home state: 41 percent approval versus 48 percent disapproval. His approval rating has dropped 13 points since February and is at its lowest point ever in WaPo polling.

Similarly, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is in worse shape at home than he's been since 2011, according to a Quinnipiac University poll this week. Forty-six percent of New Jerseyans approve of Christie, while 45 percent disapprove. That's in stark contrast to the post-Sandy days when Christie was hugely popular.

But in seeing their numbers drop, both of these men are in some pretty good company. Hillary Rodham Clinton has seen her national image deteriorate for months now, with a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showing her at 43 percent favorable and 41 percent unfavorable. And basically none of the top 2016 contenders has an approval or favorable rating above 50 percent right now.

That's right, none of the people with the best chance at becoming our next president have pleased even half of their constituents. And many of them are more disliked than liked.

Here are the most recent polls on nine of the top hopefuls, along with the pollster whose numbers we used.

(Being sub-50 is a little more understandable for folks like Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, who haven't been in the Senate for very long and are still somewhat less-known. Both have above-water personal image ratings.)

Does that mean we've got a bunch of duds for candidates in 2016? Not necessarily. The current political environment is pretty tough for anyone who is well known. While approval ratings over 50 percent used to be the norm, it's more and more the exception to the rule.

But the fact that none of these candidates are excelling at home suggests we're in for a pretty tough campaign. If their own people don't love them -- often in electorates that are pretty favorable for some of these Republicans -- we're guessing the broader American electorate won't exactly fall in love with them.

Which, in 2016, probably means a race to the bottom.