After nearly a year, Trump makes GOP gains – but that's all

May 12, 2016, 6:58 PM GMT+0

Republicans have warmed to Trump over the past year, but the rest of America hasn't

Less than a year ago, Donald Trump made his entry into the GOP presidential nominating contest. Now he is the party’s presumptive nominee. The latest Economist/YouGov Poll shows how far he has come since then – and how much further he has to go.

Basically, Trump has convinced Republicans – but not the public overall – of his virtues. In June, 2015, six in ten adults had an unfavorable view of Trump. That’s’ still true, but Republicans have moved from being divided on The Donald to giving him a favorable evaluation -- by better than two to one.

But both Democrats and independents have become more negative – unfavorable views of Trump among Democrats, already overwhelmingly bad in 2015 have risen from 80% then to 87% today. 51% of political independents were unfavorably disposed towards Trump last June, now two out of three are.

This pattern – of Trump gains with Republicans but not with other potential voters – can be found on other questions about the New York businessman.

For example, although 61% of adults are uneasy about Trump’s ability to deal with an international crisis, nearly six in ten Republicans are not. This is a complete turnaround for Republicans since last June. Then, half of Republicans were uneasy with Trump managing American foreign policy.

That’s true as well on other questions in the current poll that relate to foreign policy and presidential readiness. By two to one, Americans don’t think Trump is ready to serve as Commander-in-Chief. By two to one, Republicans think he is. And while 61% of Republicans say Trump is qualified to serve as President, 60% of the overall public think he is not. In a slightly different question asked in June, 2015, Republicans were not yet sure about Trump’s qualifications. Last June, only 36% of Republicans said Trump has the qualifications to serve as president, while half said he did not.

But in all cases, Trump has made few gains outside his party. Republicans viewed him as a strong leader in June; now even more of them do. The overall public was divided then, and it still is today. And while four in ten Republicans say they like Trump “a lot,” one in four don’t like him at all. Overall, just over half the public dislike Trump.

Republicans say they would vote for Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton in November, but many say they would do so because they dislike Clinton, not because they like Trump. But that’s also the case for non-Republicans who would vote for Trump: nearly half (46%) of Trump’s voters say theirs would mostly be a vote against Clinton. Clinton voters are only a little more positive about their choice.

If Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders were to become the Democratic nominee, nearly three in four Trump voters in that circumstance claim they would mostly be casting a positive vote for Trump.

Republicans are hopeful Trump will win the presidency, and most think he will do just that. 89% believe it is possible Trump can defeat Clinton in November.

As for what will actually happen in the fall if Trump and Clinton run against each other, Americans give the edge to the former Secretary of State. When they are asked what is most likely to happen in November, more expect a Clinton victory than a Trump win. And Democrats are more likely than Republicans to be hopeful their party’s likely nominee can win.

See the Economist/YouGov results

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.

Explore more data & articles