Apart from Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump is the only leading candidate for 2016 who is seen as untrustworthy by most Americans
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is still the Democratic favorite for the presidency, and she has always received high marks for her toughness and readiness to be Commander-in-Chief. In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll more Americans say she is ready to be Commander-in-Chief than say that about any of six other contenders. There is also more trust in her ability to handle terrorism, although Americans have doubts about all the candidates (as well as about President Obama). But the latest Economist/YouGov Poll also highlights what has been Clinton’s greatest weakness – the perception that she lacks honesty and integrity.
Compared with six other leading Democratic and Republican candidates for the presidency, only one other is seen as not honest and trustworthy by half of the public – Republican businessman Donald Trump. And the candidate who fares best when it comes to perceived honesty and integrity among the public overall is Clinton’s main rival for the Democratic nomination, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
Americans’ perceptions of Clinton have been divided between the positive of perceived strength and the negative of perceived dishonesty for a long time. In an Economist/YouGov Poll conducted last year, those who don’t like Clinton (a group that includes 86% of Republicans in this poll) used the word “liar” more than any other to describe her. Those who liked Clinton most often used the word “strong.”
One reason Sanders fares as well as he does on the question of honesty is that Republicans and especially independents think better of his trustworthiness than they do of Clinton’s. While independents say Clinton is not honest and trustworthy by two to one, they say Sanders is, by nearly the same margin. On the other hand, Democrats see the two similarly.
Independents are more negative than positive about the honesty and trustworthiness of nearly all the GOP candidates asked about in this poll. Ben Carson fares the best with that group: independents are evenly divided on whether he is honest and trustworthy or not. Among Republicans, Carson and Florida Senator Marco Rubio are most likely to be seen as honest. Trump does least well.
Sanders’ advantage over Clinton on honesty hasn’t really changed his standing in the small field of Democrats. Clinton has a two to one lead among registered voters who think of themselves as Democrats. But independents can vote in some Democratic primaries, and her lead narrows when looking at registered voters who say they are likely to vote in Democratic primaries: she holds a healthy lead over Sanders, but it is 12 points narrower than among Democrat identifiers.
Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.