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Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton viewed unfavorably by majority - CBS/NYT poll

Last Updated Mar 21, 2016 7:19 PM EDT

By Anthony Salvanto, Fred Backus, Jennifer De Pinto, Sarah Dutton

More than half of the states have held a primary or caucus, and registered voters nationwide now hold negative opinions of the political parties' current frontrunners. More than half of voters have unfavorable views of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump; each has a net negative rating in the double-digits.

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Compared to frontrunners in previous presidential primary races, Trump and Clinton's unfavorable ratings (57 percent and 52 percent respectively) are the highest in CBS News/New York Times Polls going back to 1984, when CBS began asking this question.

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Perhaps, not surprisingly, most Democrats have negative views of Trump and a majority of Republicans view Clinton unfavorably. But more than half of independents have unfavorable views of both candidates. Clinton is viewed more positively by members of her own party than Trump is by his. Six in 10 Democrats have a favorable opinion of Clinton; just about half of Republicans have a favorable opinion of Trump.

In addition, Americans don't hold especially favorable views of the country's two major political parties -- although the Democratic Party fares better. Forty-six percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of the Democratic Party, compared to just 28 percent who view the Republican Party that way -- matching the lowest rating ever in CBS News/New York Times Polls.

Sixty-six percent of Americans view the Republican party unfavorably, a record high in CBS News polling.

Also, while just 13 percent of Democrats view their own party negatively, far more Republicans - 39 percent - hold a negative view of their party. Independents have unfavorable views of both parties, particularly the Republican Party.

2016 General Election Match-Ups

When Democratic frontrunner Clinton is matched up against the Republican candidates, she does best against Trump. Clinton has a 10-point lead over him among registered voters, but her lead narrows to just three points against Ted Cruz. At this stage, Republican John Kasich is the Republican who does best against Clinton, edging her out by four points.

When matched-up against Clinton, Kasich gets the support of 85 percent of Republicans, compared to the 77 percent support Trump receives. Kasich also gets support from 52 percent of independents.

At 15 points, Democrat Sanders' lead over Trump is larger than Clinton's, partly due to his stronger support among independents.

Both Democratic candidates, Clinton and Sanders, get the support of women in match-ups against the remaining Republican candidates. The races are tighter among men.

White voters back the Republican candidate in these hypothetical match-ups, while African Americans support the Democrats.

Younger voters -- some of Sanders' strongest supporters in the primaries -- continue to back him in a general election. 61 percent of voters under age 45 say they would back Sanders over Trump; Clinton gets a similar level of support (58 percent) against Trump. Against Kasich, however, Clinton's support among voters under 45 drops to 47 percent. Older voters back the Republican candidates in head to heads against Clinton, but it's a closer race among this group between Sanders and Trump.

Feelings about Potential Presidencies

The poll asked voters overall how they feel about what each of the remaining presidential candidates would do if elected president. Fewer than half of voters feel especially enthusiastic about what any of the candidates would do if they were elected president. Forty-seven percent of voters nationwide are excited or optimistic about a Kasich presidency -- the highest of any candidate, followed by Sanders (45 percent) and Clinton (42 percent).

Voters have mostly negative feelings about a Trump presidency, including 50 percent who say they would be scared about what he would do in office.

Most Republicans express positive feelings about what their candidates would do in office, and are the most excited or optimistic about a potential Kasich presidency (66 percent), followed by Cruz (61 percent) and then Trump (58 percent). In fact, nearly one in five Republican voters say they are scared about what Trump will do in office.

Republicans most fear a Clinton presidency (68 percent), but a majority are also scared of a Sanders presidency (56 percent).

Among Democratic voters, three in four are excited or optimistic about a potential Clinton (77 percent) or Sanders presidency (74 percent). When Democrats are asked about the Republican candidates, they are most likely to be scared of a Trump presidency (76 percent), but least scared of a Kasich presidency (12 percent).


This poll was conducted by telephone March 17-20, 2016 among a random sample of 1,252 adults nationwide, including 1,058 registered voters. Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News and the New York Times by SSRS of Media, PA. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones.

The poll employed a random digit dial methodology. For the landline sample, a respondent was randomly selected from all adults in the household. For the cell sample, interviews were conducted with the person who answered the phone.

Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish using live interviewers.

The data have been weighted to reflect U.S. Census figures on demographic variables.

The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher and is available by request. The margin of error includes the effects of standard weighting procedures which enlarge sampling error slightly.

This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

3/21/16 CBS/NYT Gen Elect Toplines by CBSNewsPolitics