The presidential election polls agree on one thing: Voters rue their choices

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus speaks during the party convention in Cleveland on Monday.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

The GOP convention has brought a surfeit of new polls, and although they differ slightly on the standing of the two major candidates, they concur that voters don’t like their choices.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll released over the weekend, for example, found 58% of voters were dissatisfied with the choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Among those surveyed, 64% had an unfavorable view of Trump, while 54% felt unfavorably toward Clinton.


An NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey offered a similar verdict: Trump was viewed favorably by 27% of those surveyed and unfavorably by 60%. That net negative rating of 33 points was the worst in the history of the poll.

But Clinton’s image was only somewhat better: 34% positive, 56% negative.

Despite the unpopularity of the two major-party presumptive nominees, third parties aren’t garnering a lot of support. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian nominee, and Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, drew 8% and 5%, respectively, in the ABC/Washington Post survey when their names were offered to voters. They got 11% and 6%, respectively, in the NBC/Wall Street Journal survey.

The two drew roughly equally from Clinton and Trump at this point, the polls found.

Rather than flocking to a third choice, many voters are being driven by negative feelings about the candidate they don’t like, more than positive feelings about their own candidate. That’s particularly true for Trump, who leads a party still badly divided between his supporters and detractors.

Among registered voters who said they backed Trump, fewer than four in 10 in the ABC/Washington Post poll said they did so mainly because they supported him. The majority, 57%, said they mostly opposed Clinton.


On the other side, the picture was only slightly more optimistic: 44% who mainly supported Clinton, 54% who mostly opposed Trump.

One political figure Americans do like: President Obama. His job approval continues to stay above 50%, at some of the highest levels of his presidency. That has helped buoy Clinton, even as concerns over her handling of classified information in her email while secretary of State have pulled her downward.

As for who is winning, the new surveys almost all show a very close race, with most showing a slim lead for the Democrat. The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll had Clinton ahead 46%-41%. The Washington Post/ABC poll had her leading 47%-43%. Both leads were within the surveys’ margins of error.

Our own USC Dornsife/L.A. Times Daybreak poll, which tracks voter preferences daily, now has the two effectively tied, with Trump ahead by less than a point. The small lead that Trump had in the poll last week appears to have dwindled, with Clinton at least partially recovering from the slide in her support that came after harsh criticism from FBI Director James Comey over her emails.

Similar verdicts have come from recent polls of swing states, which show close contests in Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, Virginia and elsewhere.

For more on Politics and Policy, follow me @DavidLauter

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