The Unlikable Duo: Trump and Clinton

  • The present consensus among pundits is that Trump has lost serious momentum since shoring up the minimum number of delegates in early May. Is there any truth to this?
  • The short answer is yes. Trump has lost steam since May. Indeed, after early gains in his favorability scores, they have been flat, hovering in the higher 30’s for the last month (see graph below).Blog.Favorability Trends.7182016
  • So how bad is it for Trump? In any other electoral season it would be devastating. The saving grace for Trump in 2016 is that his opponent is almost equally out of favor.
  • In historical perspective, Clinton and Trump are the two most disliked candidates in recent memory, and by a substantive margin (see graph below).Blog.Favorability Rank.7182016
    • Here it is important to remember that elections are about a relative choice between two candidates. Put differently, they both might stink as choices in people’s eyes—the key question is which one stinks least.
  • Ultimately, the Conventions—both Republican and Democrat—will be important mechanisms in potentially improving candidate favorability scores through the reinforcement of their personal and professional CV’s and in the articulation of their respective messages.
  • In my view, more than any bump in the horserace head-to-head, the candidate that can most improve their likeability will be best positioned for the post-convention footrace.
    • Why? Head-to-head horserace questions can be fuzzy predictors of Election Day at this stage of the electoral cycle (learn more here). Instead, favorability scores right now are more useful predictors of electoral chances and thus should be one of our key metrics.
  • Remember, in the end, it is not about being well-liked! Instead, the bar is much lower: just being a little bit more likeable (or less unlikeable?!) might win the White House this year!