We’ll be reporting from Philadelphia all week and live-blogging each night. Check out all our dispatches from the Democratic convention here.
PHILADELPHIA — If you were standing in the convention hall here or watching the Democratic National Convention on television Monday night, it quickly became clear from the tumult on the floor that the Republican Party doesn’t have a copyright on disunity. And there’s not much doubt about the reason for that.
Although most people who identify as Democrats or lean toward the Democratic Party have a favorable opinion of Hillary Clinton, that view isn’t nearly universal. A look at the recent polling shows that Clinton and Donald Trump are now about equally popular, both with their respective bases and with the American public at large.
Even after becoming the presumptive Democratic nominee, Clinton has seen little improvement in her standing among Democrats and Democratic leaners. According to Gallup, Clinton’s favorable rating among those groups was 68 percent on the day of the California primary (June 7). Today, it stands at 70 percent. In other words, nearly a third of Democrats don’t hold a favorable view of her. At this point in the 2008 campaign, only 14 percent of Democrats didn’t hold a favorable view of Barack Obama, according to Gallup — 84 percent did. Even if most Democrats prefer Clinton to Trump, a sizable portion of them do so at this point without liking her.
Trump’s popularity with Republican and Republican leaners, meanwhile, has spiked since he wrapped up the Republican nomination. Gallup pegged Trump’s favorable rating at just 58 percent with Republicans on the day of the Indiana primary (May 3). Now, it’s 72 percent. That’s still not great; John McCain’s favorable rating at this point in 2008 was 89 percent among Republicans in Gallup’s polling. But as Trump has improved his image on the right and Clinton has failed to improve hers on the left, they now find themselves in the same spot.
Both are trying to be considered the lesser of two evils. But it’s not clear which candidate is more disliked by Americans overall. The RealClearPolitics average has Clinton with a 38 percent favorable rating overall compared to Trump’s 36 percent. Gallup has them both at 37 percent, with Clinton falling from 40 percent earlier this month (possibly because of criticism by the FBI over her handling of her State Department emails) and Trump rising from 31 percent. This equal popularity (or unpopularity) is reflected in the horserace polls, which now show a near-tie.
Can Clinton re-establish her edge in popularity over Trump and her lead in the horserace polls? It’s quite possible; we’re checking in on their popularity at a particularly good time for Trump — he has already had his convention and received his convention bounce, and Clinton has not. If Clinton receives a similar bounce to Trump’s, then she’ll be back in the lead and have most of the Democratic base behind her. Still, she will have to struggle in the final few days of this convention to improve her image among the party faithful.