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CBS/NYT poll: How do voters view Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton?

Bernie Sanders was defiant Wednesday, saying his campaign did not encourage the chaos at Nevada's Democratic convention over the weekend
Sanders refuses to quit as Democratic party rift grows 02:23

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

The two front-runners for their party's nomination are well-known to voters, and opinions of each continue to be much more negative than positive. When compared to past major party presidential candidates at a similar point in the election cycle, Trump and Clinton's unfavorable ratings continue to be the highest in CBS News/New York Times polls going back to 1984, when the question was first asked.

By more than two to one, voters have an unfavorable view of Donald Trump, and more voters have an unfavorable than favorable view of Hillary Clinton as well. Sanders is the only one of the three candidates measured in the poll who is viewed more positively than negatively. However, unfavorable views of Trump have declined from 63 percent last month to 55 percent now. Impressions of Clinton have changed little.


Among women voters, views of Donald Trump remain overwhelmingly negative. Sixty percent have an unfavorable view of him, although that's down a bit from 69 percent last month.

Women: Views of the 2016 Candidates
(Among registered voters)
Undecided/don't know enough191628

Partisanship colors views of Trump and Clinton - Republicans have more positive opinions of Trump, and Democrats are similarly supportive of Clinton.

Sanders fends off attacks over Nevada convention unrest 02:09

Independent voters view Sanders the most positively of the candidates. In contrast, both Trump and Clinton are viewed negatively by more than 30 point margins among independents.

Sanders has run strongly in the Democratic primaries among younger voters, and he does well with voters under 30 among the broader electorate as well. Fifty-seven percent of them have a favorable impression of him, while 58 percent have an unfavorable view of Clinton. Republican candidate Trump is viewed more negatively by young voters.

Candidate Qualities


Voters were asked some specific questions about the two party's front-runners. Both Trump and Clinton are seen by most voters as strong leaders - the only trait on which both were viewed positively by a majority. Majorities (six in 10) see neither as honest or as sharing voters' values. Voters are divided as to whether Clinton has the right temperament to be president, 70 percent say Trump does not possess that quality.

Few voters overall think Trump or Clinton will improve the U.S. image in the world. Only Trump (51 percent) is viewed as bringing real change to the way things are done in Washington D.C.

Each candidate is viewed through a partisan lens: Republicans are more likely than Democrats to evaluate Trump positively on each quality (although four in ten Republican voters do not think he has the right temperament to be president). Similarly, Clinton receives more positive assessments from Democrats.

But independents evaluate both candidates poorly: majorities say that neither Clinton nor Trump shares their values, is honest or has the right temperament to be president. 61 percent of independents think Trump would make the U.S. image in the world worse (compared to 37 percent for Clinton), and most think Trump could bring change to the way things are done in Washington (64 percent think Clinton could not do this).

The Economy, Commander-in-Chief

Neither Trump nor Clinton has a clear advantage on handling the economy or on being the nation's commander-in-chief. About half of voters express at least some confidence in each to manage the economy or direct the country's military, but about half say they are not too or not at all confident in either candidate.

Ideology of the Candidates

Some Republican leaders have criticized Trump for not holding conservative views on some issues, and just 34 percent of voters overall (and only 36 percent of Republicans) think he is a conservative. About half of Republican voters see Trump as a moderate.

Among all voters, Clinton is viewed as liberal -- but among members of her own party, 45 percent say she is a moderate. Among Sanders' supporters, 43 percent see her as a moderate, and another 22 percent think she is a conservative.

Tax Returns and Presidential Candidates

Many have called on Donald Trump to release his tax returns. Most voters (59 percent) think presidential candidates should release their returns, although Republicans (50 percent) are less likely to think that's necessary than Democrats (31 percent) or independents (36 percent).

Bill Clinton

Former President Bill Clinton has been campaigning for his wife, who has recently said he could play a role in a Clinton Administration. Among voters overall, views of him are more positive than negative - but they are especially favorable among Democratic voters.

Among Sanders supporters, just 49 percent have a positive impression of the former president.

Views of Bill Clinton
Undecided/don't know enough181615241225

This poll was conducted by telephone May 13-17, 2016 among a random sample of 1,300 adults nationwide, including 1,109 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.

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