By David Lightman. This article was first published on McClatchy DC.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are unusually weak, widely disliked presidential candidates whom most people plan to vote against if the front-runners meet in the general election.

Most people who’d vote for Clinton would do so because they want to defeat Trump, not because they actually want to elect her, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll.

And most of those who’d vote for Trump would do it because they want to defeat Clinton, not because they like Trump.

The winner? He or she is likely to begin the presidential term without the usual honeymoon period.

“The winner would wind up one of the least popular presidents” to take office in recent times, said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion in New York, which conducted the nationwide poll.

Marist found overwhelming, largely unprecedented ill will towards Clinton and Trump was a big driver of voter sentiment, particularly among independents.

Fifty-three percent of all Clinton voters, and three of four independents, said they’d pick the former secretary of state because they’d be voting against Trump.

Sixty-one percent of Trump voters, and nearly two of three independent supporters, said their vote for the New York real estate mogul would be largely a vote against Clinton. Only 35 percent said they’d be casting a pro-Trump vote.

For front-runners, their negatives are very high. Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, on Clinton and Trump

Clinton is currently the clear Democratic front-runner, comfortably ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders, the independent Vermont senator. Clinton has a 1,748-1,058 lead in delegates, with 2,383 needed to win the nomination.

Among Republicans, Trump retains a big lead over Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio.

Clinton and Trump, though, have proven consistently vulnerable. Sanders has been on a winning streak recently, and Cruz trounced Trump Tuesday in Wisconsin.

Clinton and Trump’s unpopularity makes them weaker general election candidates.

Clinton leads Trump in a head-to-head matchup, 50 to 41 percent, largely because of support from constituencies that have been loyal to her throughout 2016.

She wins strong backing from African-Americans, who prefer her by 84-13; Latinos, who support her 75-23; those aged 18-29, who support her 67-27, and women, who support her by 58-34.

Trump tops her among white voters, 50-41, and men, 50-42.

Sanders’ more positive image, though, would make him the stronger Democrat in a general election, as he tops Trump 57 to 37 percent.

Part of the reason for the big edge is that Sanders has not been closely scrutinized yet by voters or the media, Miringoff suggested. Now that he and Clinton are vying in New York’s April 19 primary, Sanders is feeling more heat.

Clinton has an 11 percentage point lead over Sanders among New York Democrats, according to the latest RealClearPolitics poll averages.

The self-described democratic socialist is being criticized for not being tough enough on gun control. And when asked recently the last time he rode the New York City subway, he recalled doing so a year ago. “You get a token and you get on,” the Brooklyn native said. Tokens were last used 13 years ago.

Sanders at the moment would do well with the same constituencies as Clinton, but would edge Trump among whites. Sanders also had a 63 to 30 percent advantage among women, better than Clinton.

Overall, Sanders also would get more votes for him than against Trump. Forty-nine percent would be voting for Sanders while 48 percent would be voting against Trump.

Trump would get a boost too, as 52 percent of his supporters would be voting for him, while 44 percent would be casting a vote against Sanders.

The scenario changes dramatically when the Democrats are paired against Cruz and Kasich.

Clinton and Cruz, a senator from Texas, are tied at 47 percent, as Cruz runs particularly strong with independents, with an 11 percentage point edge.

Kasich, the governor of Ohio, argues he’s the most electable Republican, and the poll confirms that. He beats Clinton by 9, winning huge margins among independents. Sanders, though, easily beats Cruz or Kasich.

Given the Clinton-Trump choice, independents were less enthusiastic. A big reason they’ll pick a candidate is “they don’t like the other guy,” said Miringoff.

David Lightman: 202-383-6101, @lightmandavid


This survey of 1,297 adults was conducted March 29-31 by The Marist Poll sponsored and funded in partnership with McClatchy News Service. Adults 18 years of age and older residing in the contiguous United States were contacted on landline or mobile numbers and interviewed in English by telephone using live interviewers. Landline telephone numbers were randomly selected based upon a list of telephone exchanges from throughout the nation from ASDE Survey Sampler, Inc. The exchanges were selected to ensure that each region was represented in proportion to its population. Respondents in the household were randomly selected by first asking for the youngest male. This landline sample was combined with respondents reached through random dialing of cell phone numbers from Survey Sampling International. Assistance was provided by Luce Research for data collection. After the interviews were completed, the two samples were combined and balanced to reflect the 2013 American Community Survey 1-year estimates for age, gender, income, race, and region. Results are statistically significant within plus or minus 2.7 percentage points. There are 1,066 registered voters. The results for this subset are statistically significant within plus or minus 3.0 percentage points. There are 444 Republicans and Republican leaning independents. There are 497 Democrats and Democratic leaning independents. The results for these subsets are statistically significant within plus or minus 4.7 percentage points and plus or minus 4.4 percentage points, respectively. The error margin was not adjusted for sample weights and increases for cross-tabulations.

Republicans: Trump should be nominated if he has delegate majority

According to the latest McClatchy-Marist poll, a majority of Republicans believe that Donald Trump should in fact be the party nominee if he has the most delegates at the GOP convention this coming July, even if he has not crossed the threshold needed to clinch the nomination. (Marist)

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