2016 Campaign: Strong Interest, Widespread Dissatisfaction

Source: Pew Research Center

As convention nears, most Republicans see a party divided

As Republicans and Democrats prepare for their party conventions later this month, a new national survey paints a bleak picture of voters’ impressions of the presidential campaign and the choices they face in November.

Overall satisfaction with the choice of candidates is at its lowest point in two decades. Currently, fewer than half of registered voters in both parties – 43% of Democrats and 40% of Republicans – say they are satisfied with their choices for president.Voter satisfaction with presidential candidates at lowest level in decades

Roughly four-in-ten voters (41%) say it is difficult to choose between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton because neither would make a good president – as high as at any point since 2000. And just 11% say the choice is difficult because eitherwould make a good chief executive, the lowest percentage during this period.

The presidential campaign is widely viewed as excessively negative and not focused on important issues. Just 27% of Americans say the campaign is “focused on important policy debates,” which is seven points lower than in December, before the primaries began.

Greater election interest than during previous campaigns; more say ‘it really matters who wins’ Yet dissatisfaction with the campaign and the candidates has done nothing to dampen voter interest in the 2016 election. Fully 80% of registered voters say they have given “quite a lot” of thought to the election, the highest share at this point in any campaign since 1992. Four years ago, 67% of voters said they had given a lot of thought to the election, and at this point in 2008 – the previous election in which both parties had contested nominations – 72% did so.

In part, this is a reflection of the widespread belief that a great deal is at stake in the upcoming election. In every campaign since 2004, majorities of voters have said “it really matters” who wins presidential contests, but currently 74% express this view, up 11 percentage points from the same point in the campaigns four and eight years ago.

Moreover, most voters simply find the campaign interesting. Currently, 77% say the campaign has been “interesting,” while just 17% describe it as “dull.” The share calling the campaign interesting is nearly double the percentage saying this four years ago (39%) and the highest during any campaign dating back 20 years.

Clinton holds general election advantage over TrumpThe new national survey by Pew Research Center was conducted June 15-26 among 2,245 adults, including 1,655 registered voters. In a two-way contest, 51% of registered voters support Clinton or lean toward her, while 42% support or lean toward Trump. In a three-way contest, including Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, 45% favor Clinton, 36% support Trump and 11% back Johnson.

As has been the case in recent campaigns, there are stark racial and ethnic differences in candidate support. Trump leads among white, non-Hispanic voters (51%-42%), while Clinton has an overwhelming advantage among African Americans (91%-7%).

Clinton also holds a wide, 66%-24% advantage among Hispanic voters. This is on par with Barack Obama’s lead among Hispanics at similar points in the past two campaigns. The survey included an oversample of Hispanics: 543 Hispanics were interviewed in English and Spanish, including 274 Hispanic registered voters. For more, see Hispanic voters and the 2016 election. (Overall data are weighted to general population parameters; seeMethodology for more details.)

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