America Has Never Disliked Hillary Clinton This Much

By
Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton has never had a better chance of becoming the president of the United States. She’s also never been more widely disliked by American voters.

So suggests a new Washington Post–ABC News poll, which finds that 41 percent of the country views Clinton favorably, while 56 percent sees her unfavorably — the highest such percentage in her decades-long career in national politics.

That headline finding is a tad misleading: Clinton is only one percentage point more unpopular today than she was in June, well within the poll’s margin of error. The real story of the survey, then, is that the Democratic National Convention failed to fundamentally transform America’s impression of the Democratic Nominee.

In the immediate wake of Team Blue’s four-day infomercial in Philadelphia, Clinton saw a dramatic improvement in her favorable numbers, with 48 percent of the public giving her the thumbs-up, and just 50 percent pointing ’em in the other direction. Those gains have now been erased.

The most intuitive explanation for Clinton’s declining popularity is that all the recent headlines about emails and foundation donors have affirmed voters’ widespread suspicion that Clinton is “untrustworthy.” It’s also possible that voters have the (misguided) perception that Clinton’s recent attacks on Trump’s racist ties were unfair, or else that the 2016 election has become so nasty and exhausting, Americans have simply soured on everyone associated with it — a full 63 percent of the country dislikes Donald Trump.

And yet, as the Post’s Aaron Blake notes, Clinton has lost the most support among the demographics who like her best.

Regardless, the public’s antipathy for Clinton is the one thing keeping Trump’s candidacy (mathematically) alive. While Clinton posts a sizable lead over Trump in national polls, she consistently comes in below 50 percent. And despite the amount of time and media attention the 2016 campaign has occupied, the number of voters still claiming to be undecided is historically high for this point in an election cycle.

However, an analysis of such voters by Real Clear Politics suggests that they are extremely unlikely to turn en masse toward Donald Trump. When forced to choose, voters who are undecided tend to cast their lot with Clinton — except for the 10 percent who refuse to even express a hypothetical preference because they despise both candidates so thoroughly.

All of which suggests that Hillary Clinton has a very good chance of becoming the least popular president-elect in modern American history.