But I'll admit that it can also come across as somewhat dismissive. After all, people vote for candidates they don't love all the time. Trump's sins seemed like they would be dealbreakers for any other candidate, but Trump supporters would say the same about Hillary Clinton's email server or honesty, for instance. Many Clinton supporters had those big qualms about her, too.
And as it turns out, as many Clinton voters say they were holding their noses in the voting booths as Trump voters who say the same, according to a new poll.
The George Washington University Battleground Poll, from bipartisan pollsters the Tarrance Group (R) and Lake Research Partners (D), shows 24 percent of Clinton voters said they were “reluctant” in their vote for Clinton, vs. 20 percent of Trump voters. Three-fourths (75 percent) of Clinton voters said they were “definite” in their decision to vote for her, while 79 percent of Trump supporters said the same.
So at least according to these numbers, more of Clinton's voters had very real qualms about casting their ballots than Trump's.
The numbers, of course, are within the margin of error, but the fact that they are even close is notable, given the narrative (which again, I've reinforced myself) about Trump's apparently unprecedented liabilities.
This could also be a bit of revisionist history. Trump has seen an increase in his popularity since the election — his favorable rating in the poll is at 45 percent, which is up from 36 percent in mid-October and is his best on record — which suggests even some who may have been reluctant are suddenly more on board now that he's president-elect. There's a bit of a honeymoon that perhaps is to be expected — even as a plurality of voters still say they dislike Trump.
In addition, exit polls suggested Clinton voters were more enthusiastic. Among the 41 percent of voters who said they strongly favored their candidate, Clinton led 53-41. The candidates split voters who said they liked their candidate but had reservations, and Trump led 50-39 among the 25 percent of voters who said this phrase best described their vote: “I dislike the other candidates.”
That's a different question, though, with three options that don't correspond to the binary choice that the GWU poll offered. And many Trump voters whose prime motivations may have been voting against Clinton may still have been okay/not reluctant with Trump. The same could be said for those who admitted to having reservations about their chosen candidate. But it's also clear that many Clinton voters did have those reservations — a majority, in fact, according to exit polls.
And somewhat contrary to the maxim described at the top, it's worth entertaining the notion that Clinton was about as unappealing to those who nonetheless chose to vote for her. That's not to say her sins as a candidate were as or more serious; that's a value judgment voters make. But there was clearly plenty that made her supporters unenthusiastic about voting for her.
Or, stated another way, people knew what they were getting with Clinton, and they voted for her anyway.