Nearly 7 in 10 Americans say the idea of Donald Trump becoming president makes them anxious, according to a new Washington-Post-ABC News poll that is the latest to reinforce the fact that the GOP front-runner faces clear obstacles to broadening his appeal in a general election.
The Post-ABC poll finds 69 percent of Americans feel anxious about of a Trump presidency, while 3 in 10 are comfortable with the idea -- both similar to a Post-ABC poll last month.
Few of the top presidential contenders inspire great comfort with the public at-large. Nearly half say they feel anxious about Ted Cruz as president (49 percent), while 48 percent say the same of Marco Rubio.
Among Democratic hopefuls, 51 percent of Americans say they are anxious about Hillary Clinton becoming president, while 43 percent are similarly concerned about Bernie Sanders in the White House. Sanders is the only candidate tested in the poll for whom a plurality -- 50 percent -- says they feel comfortable with as president. (Expect the Sanders campaign to push this number as they make their case that the democratic socialist is electable.)
Despite those tepid ratings, anxiety surrounding a Trump presidency exceeds all candidates by a wide margin, with the gap concentrated with intense concerns. The 51 percent who feel "very" anxious about Trump is significantly higher than Clinton (35 percent), Cruz (26), Sanders (24) or Rubio (18).
Greater anxiety over Trump owes both to larger concerns within his own party and beyond it, despite his substantial lead in national support for the nomination. The survey finds 44 percent of self-identified Republicans saying they are anxious about Trump becoming president, higher than his closest competitors Cruz (25 percent) and Rubio (28 percent).
Regardless of those views, most Republicans give positive marks to Trump. A 55 percent majority feel comfortable with him becoming president, and an even larger 65 percent of Republicans say they would accept him as the party's nominee.
Trump's mixed marks from Republicans on this question may be less important in a general election when the vast majority of partisans look past divisive primaries and vote for their party's nominee. But the poll also finds Trump elicits much greater concern over his potential election among key voting groups beyond the GOP, with large numbers saying they are "very anxious" about him even at this early stage.
Nowhere is this clearer than among Hispanics. Nearly 7 in 10 (69 percent) say they feel very anxious about Trump's candidacy -- 49 percentage points higher than any of the other four candidates tested. Trump began his campaign by saying many illegal immigrants were criminals sent across the border by Mexico.
In addition, 59 percent of women and 53 percent of Catholics report feeling very anxious about Trump as president, both more than 20 percentage points higher than for Rubio, Cruz, Sanders or Clinton. Some 47 percent of political independents also feel very anxious about Trump's candidacy, 10 points higher than for the other candidates tested.
The relatively high levels of anxiety Trump inspires are in line with recent Post-ABC polling measuring broad favorable or unfavorable impressions, attitudes which could prove a drag on his ability to win a general election.
This logic contrasts sharply with currently high expectations for Trump's electability among Republicans and the public overall. Fully 56 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents say he has the best chance of getting elected president in November. And as our Fix colleague Philip Bump wrote yesterday, both Republicans and Democrats alike predict Trump would fare better Rubio or Cruz in a general election matchups against Clinton or Sanders.
Whether those perceptions change or not, they could be consequential: In 2012, perceived electability was Mitt Romney's most consistent advantage over other Republican candidates. After eight years of a Democratic president, it's this attribute will play an important role again.
The Washington Post-ABC News poll was conducted Jan. 21 to 24 among a random national sample of 1,001 adults reached on landline and cellular phones. The margin of sampling error for overall results is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.