"To just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the 'basket of deplorables,'" Hillary Clinton said at a New York fundraiser on Sept. 9. "The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it. And unfortunately, there are people like that, and he has lifted them up." (Video: The Washington Post / Photo: AP)

On Sept. 10, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton had what Republicans argue was her very own "47 percent" moment.

At a fundraiser, she suggested that as many as half of GOP rival Donald Trump's supporters belonged in what she labeled a "basket of deplorables" — that they were racist, sexist, Islamophobic and/or xenophobic. She later said she regretted saying the "half" part but stuck by the crux of her argument: that many Trump backers fit into these unpalatable categories.

It's a sharp attack. It may not be an entirely effective one. A new poll shows that Americans don't like this tactic, with nearly two-thirds calling the approach "unfair."

The Washington Post-ABC News survey asked people whether "it's fair or unfair to describe a large portion of Trump's supporters as prejudiced against women and minorities." More than twice as many registered voters said this approach was out of bounds (65 percent) as said it was fair game (30 percent).


Even 47 percent of Democrats and 45 percent of Clinton backers said the description was unfair. And 84 percent of Republicans and 90 percent of Trump backers said the same.


Those numbers actually somewhat mirror the initial reaction to 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney's "47 percent" comment, in which he suggested that nearly half the country was voting for President Obama because they were reliant on the government and didn't pay taxes.

Back then, a Pew Research Center poll showed that 55 percent of registered voters who were familiar with Romney's comments viewed them negatively, while 23 percent viewed them positively.

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This isn't totally an apples-to-apples comparison, though.

The Post-ABC question, for example, didn't mention Clinton by name or use the word "half," so it's not a direct reaction to what she said two weeks ago. But it does aptly describe the strategy she has employed. She still appears to be saying that a large portion of Trump backers fit into this "basket of deplorables," even as she no longer affixes such a large number to it.

On the other hand, it's not clear whether this comment, even if people don't like it, will have anywhere near the effect that Romney's "47 percent" comment was supposed to have. That's especially because Clinton has backed away from saying it applied to half of Trump supporters and, as I noted two weeks ago, the fact that Romney's comment might have alienated people who actually might have voted for him. Clinton's comment was about people already backing her opponent — a key difference.

But interestingly, Clinton's comment may be cutting into at least one key advantage she had in this campaign: the very idea that Trump is the candidate who is appealing to prejudices.

One of the more interesting numbers in this poll is this: Although 57 percent of registered voters say Trump is appealing to people's prejudices, a sizable portion of the electorate also says this label applies to Clinton. Fully 45 percent of registered voters say Clinton is also appealing to voters' prejudices.

And it's not just the 45 percent of Americans who happen to be voting for Trump and are willing to say bad things about Clinton. In fact, 32 percent of liberals, 26 percent of Democratic-leaning voters and 21 percent of Clinton voters also say she's appealing to people's prejudices. So do nearly half (47 percent) of independent voters.

Those are not insignificant portions of the electorate; they are large segments of people who lean toward or are voting for Clinton who say that Trump isn't the only one in this race who appeals to prejudices.

And it's hard to totally separate that from her "basket of deplorables" comment. If you dig deeper into the Post-ABC poll, among Clinton supporters who said such tactics are unfair, 28 percent of them said Clinton is appealing to people's prejudices, vs. 14 percent of those who said it was fair game.

Clinton's comment doesn't completely explain why even many of her supporters view her as playing on prejudice — but it's clear that many of them don't like that brand of politics.