Pew Research Center
Trump seen as lacking respect for women, minorities, democracy
As the presidential campaign enters its final days, opinions about American democracy and the candidates’ respect for democratic institutions – as well their respect for women, minorities and other groups in society– have emerged as political flashpoints.
Donald Trump is widely seen as having little or no respect for Muslims, women, Hispanics and blacks. Moreover, 56% of registered voters say that Trump has little or no respect for the “nation’s democratic institutions and traditions,” compared with 43% who say he has a great deal or fair amount of respect for democratic institutions and traditions.
Far more voters think Hillary Clinton respects women, minorities and the nation’s democracy. And nearly twice as many describe Clinton as “well-qualified” than say that about Trump (62% vs. 32%). Yet concerns over Clinton’s honesty persist, and just 35% say that, if elected, she would make a good or great president; even fewer (27%) think Trump would make a good or great president. These views have changed little over the course of the campaign.
The latest survey by Pew Research Center, conducted Oct. 20-25 among 2,583 adults, including 2,120 registered voters, finds broad agreement about the importance of some aspects of democracy, such as fair and open elections. But there are sharp divisions over whether other aspects are very important to maintaining a strong democracy – notably, that losers of elections recognize the legitimacy of the winners and that news organizations are free to criticize politicians.
Overwhelming majorities of Clinton (93%) and Trump (91%) backers say it is very important that national elections be open and fair. Large majorities of both groups also say it is very important that the rights of people who hold unpopular views be protected (82% of Clinton supporters, 71% of Trump supporters).
However, Clinton supporters (86%) are more likely than Trump supporters (69%) to say it is very important that people have a right to non-violent protest.
And while sizable majorities of both Clinton and Trump supporters view electoral concessions as important, Clinton backers (83%) are far more likely than Trump supporters (48%) to see this as very important.
Trump voters also are far less likely to say that the freedom of the press to criticize political leaders is essential to maintaining a strong democracy. Only about half of Trump supporters (49%) view this as very important, compared with 72% of Clinton supporters.
While Trump voters attach great importance to fair and open elections, they are skeptical that the upcoming election will meet this standard. Just 43% have a great deal or fair amount of confidence the presidential election will be “open and fair,” while 56% have not too much confidence or no confidence at all that this will occur. More than twice as many Clinton supporters (88%) as Trump supporters are confident that the upcoming election will be open and fair.
The survey finds considerable evidence of the bitterness unleashed by the presidential campaign. Dating back to 1988, no candidate, Democrat or Republican, has been viewed as more critical of their opponent than is Trump today (the question was not asked in 1992).
Currently, 62% of voters say Trump has been too personally critical of Clinton, which is about 10 percentage points higher than the previous peak (53% said that about Bob Dole in 1996, 52% for John Kerry in 2004). Just 36% say he has not been too critical of Clinton.
By comparison, 44% say Clinton has been too personally critical of her opponent, which is higher than the share saying that about Barack Obama during either of his campaigns.
An increasing share of voters believes that insulting political opponents is “sometimes fair game.” Most voters (54%) say it is “never fair game” for politicians to insult their opponents, but 43% say insults are sometimes acceptable, up from 30% in March during the presidential primaries.
Among voters in both parties, more view political insults as acceptable than did so in the spring. Today, 48% of Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters say insulting opponents is sometimes fair game, up from 38% in March. By comparison, 37% of Democrats say political insults are sometimes justifiable, a 12-percentage-point increase since then.
Meanwhile, most Clinton supporters not only take a dim view of Trump, but say they have a hard time respecting the people who support the Republican nominee. Nearly six-in-ten Clinton supporters (58%) say they “have a hard time respecting someone who supports Donald Trump for president.” Just 40% say they have “no trouble” respecting someone who backs Trump.
Trump supporters are less likely to say they have difficulty respecting Clinton voters. Four-in-ten (40%) say they have a hard time respecting Clinton voters, while 56% say they have no trouble doing so.
Most voters expect current political divisions to persist after the election, no matter who is elected president. Just 17% of all voters expect the nation’s political divisions to decrease if Trump is elected. Most say they will increase (55%) or stay the about same (26%). Even fewer voters (9%) say political divisions will lessen if Clinton becomes president; 41% say divisions will increase if she is elected, while 48% say they will stay about the same.
How much do the candidates respect women, other groups?
Majorities of voters say Trump has a great deal or fair amount of respect for several groups in the population, including men (82% great deal/fair amount), white people (83%), veterans (63%), blue-collar workers (58%) and evangelical Christians (59%).
But fewer than half of voters say Trump has a great deal or a fair amount of respect for blacks (42%), women (38%), Hispanics (35%) and immigrants (30%). In each case, majorities say he has little or no respect for these groups.
Majorities of both men (58%) and women voters (62%) say Trump has little or no respect for women, but women are more likely than men to say that Trump has no respect for women (43% vs. 29%).
Just 28% of voters say Trump has a great deal or fair amount of respect for Muslims – and nearly half of voters (47%) say he has no respect at all for them.
Overall, majorities say Trump has a great deal or fair amount of respect for just five of the 12 groups included in the survey. By contrast, majorities say Clinton has a great deal or fair amount of respect for 10 of the 12 groups.
The gaps in perceptions of Clinton’s and Trump’s respect for Muslims, women, immigrants and Hispanics are striking: More than twice as many voters say Clinton has at least a fair amount of respect for each of these groups than say the same about Trump.
More voters say Trump respects men than say that about Clinton (82% vs. 65%). And while 59% say Trump has a great deal or fair amount of respect for evangelical Christians, fewer say the same about Clinton (51%).
Both Clinton and Trump get low marks from voters for how much they respect the opponent’s supporters. Only about a quarter of voters (28%) say Clinton has a great deal or fair amount of respect for people who support Trump; more than twice as many say she has little or no respect for Trump voters. Views of Trump’s respect for Clinton voters are fairly similar: 26% think he has at least a fair amount of respect for Clinton voters, while 71% think he has little or no respect for them.
Views of the candidates: traits and issues
With less than two weeks to go before the election, 46% of registered voters favor Hillary Clinton or lean toward Clinton, while 40% support Trump or lean toward Trump; 6% back Libertarian Gary Johnson, while 3% support Green Party nominee Jill Stein. Earlier this month, Pew Research Center announced it will not be producing likely-voter estimates of the race or making a final projection of the popular vote. This report is based on registered voters or, in some cases, the general public.
Most Clinton voters now say they consider their choice a vote “for Clinton” rather than “against Trump” (57% vs. 41%). But just 45% of Trump supporters say they are mostly voting “for” him. In the prior four election cycles, majorities of GOP candidates’ supporters viewed their vote more in positive, rather than negative terms.
Overall, Clinton is viewed much more positively than Trump on several key character traits: Far more voters describe her as well-qualified than say that about Trump (62% vs. 32%), and the gap is nearly as wide in perceptions of whether each is “reckless.” Roughly seven-in-ten (69%) describe Trump as reckless, compared with 43% who say this word describes Clinton.
About half of voters (49%) say Clinton is a “good role model,” compared with 25% who describe Trump this way. More also view Clinton than Trump as “moral” (43% vs. 32%).
However, just 33% say Clinton is honest; a slightly larger share (37%) say this term applies to Trump. And sizable majorities say two negative descriptions – hard to like and having poor judgment – characterize both Clinton and Trump.
There is only one trait, among 10 included in the survey, on which majorities view both candidates positively: An equal share say Clinton and Trump are patriotic (61%).
Clinton has sizable advantages on several issues, though Trump runs even with her in dealing with the economy, terrorism, trade and crime.
Majorities of voters say Clinton would do a better job on race relations (62% vs. 30% for Trump), making wise decisions on foreign policy (56% vs. 37%), dealing with health care (55% vs. 40%) and selecting Supreme Court justices (55% vs. 42%).
Trump holds a significant advantage on only one issue: 49% say he would do a better job of reducing special interest influence.
Other important findings
GOP voters see a divided party. In the view of most voters – including most Republicans – the GOP will face the election deeply divided. Fully 80% of registered voters say the party is mostly divided in its views on issues and vision for the future, while just 17% say it is mostly united. Seven-in-ten Republican and Republican-leaning voters say the GOP is mostly divided, as do 89% of Democrats.
ACA continues to be divisive. Currently, 45% of voters approve of the 2010 health care law, while 53% disapprove. For more on the health care law, including views on whether Congress should repeal or expand it, see Pew Research Center’s Fact Tank blog.
Trump voters more likely to view Russia as “not much of a problem.” Similar shares of Clinton and Trump supporters view Russia as an adversary (29% of Clinton supporters, 24% of Trump supporters), but Clinton backers are 13 percentage points more likely to say Russia is a serious problem (53% vs. 40%). And while 30% of Trump supporters say Russia is not much of a problem, only 13% of Clinton backers say the same.
Majority says abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Overall, 61% of voters say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 36% say it should be illegal in at least most cases. About eight-in-ten Clinton supporters (82%) say abortion should be mostly legal; a smaller majority of Trump supporters (60%) say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, while 36% think it should be mostly legal.
Clinton being held to higher standard because of her gender? About half of voters (51%) say that Clinton’s gender has not been a factor in how she has been treated during the campaign; 30% say she is being held to a higher standard than past presidential candidates because she is a woman, while just 17% say she is being treated less critically. Overall, women (38%) are somewhat more likely than men (22%) to say Clinton is being held to a higher standard.
Obama job approval at 54%. Obama’s job rating among the general public is little changed from August (53%), but stands at its highest point since December 2012, a month after he won reelection. Obama’s job rating has been in positive territory for most of this year.
1. Views of the candidates
Less than two weeks before Election Day, voters remain skeptical that either Clinton or Trump would make a good president; and there has been no improvement in views of their potential presidencies over the course of the 2016 campaign.
Views of a possible Donald Trump presidency are even more negative: 56% think he would be either poor (11%) or terrible (44%), compared with 27% who say he would be a good (17%) or great (9%) president (just 16% say he would be average).
Opinions about Clinton and Trump as possible presidents have changed little over the course of the 2016 campaign, and voters’ expectations for either candidate are no more positive today than they were in January.
Clinton and Trump supporters have positive views of their candidates as potential presidents, but few think they will make great presidents. Just 16% of Clinton supporters say she would be a great president, while 56% say should be good and 26% think she would be average. Among Trump supporters, 22% say he would make a great president, 41% good and 29% average.
Traits and characteristics
Voters are highly critical of both Clinton and Trump in two key respects: Majorities of registered voters describe each as “hard to like,” and say each has “poor judgment.”
Nearly six-in-ten (59%) say Clinton is hard to like, while almost as many (56%) say she possesses poor judgment. Even greater shares describe Trump as hard to like (70%) and having poor judgment (65%).
While these views are very negative, voters also refrain from rendering positive judgments on Clinton and Trump on some traits – particularly when it comes to their honesty. Just 33% of voters describe Clinton as honest, while slightly more (37%) say this describes Trump.
On several traits and characteristics, Clinton is more highly regarded than Trump. But Clinton’s own evaluations are not all that positive. About half (49%) say she is a good role model, which is nearly double the share saying that about Trump (25%).
Fewer than half say Clinton is moral (43%) and inspiring (42%), but only about third find Trump moral (32%) and inspiring (35%).
Voters see Clinton’s major strength as her qualifications. About six-in-ten (62%) say she is well-qualified, compared with just 32% who say the same of Trump. And far fewer describe Clinton as reckless (43%) than say that about Trump (69%).
Roughly half of voters say Clinton (52%) is “a strong leader,” while somewhat fewer describe Trump in this way (46%).
The one characteristic that voters say Clinton and Trump have in common is patriotism. Identical percentages describe each as patriotic (61%).
How current candidates compare with Obama and McCain
Eight years ago, majorities described Obama (63%) and McCain (61%) as honest; fewer than four-in-ten say that about Clinton (33%) and Trump (37%) now.
In addition, while majorities say Clinton (56%) and Trump (65%) have poor judgment, fewer voters faulted Obama (29%) and McCain (41%) for poor judgment in October 2008.
On the question of “reckless,” there is no direct comparison to 2008; respondents were asked if Obama and McCain were “risky.” At that time, 49% said Obama was risky, which is somewhat higher than the share who calls Clinton reckless today (43%). Trump is widely viewed as reckless (69%); fewer characterized McCain as risky eight years ago.
More voters say Clinton is well-qualified (62%) than said that about Obama in 2008 (53%). Qualifications were a strong point for McCain – 72% viewed him as well-qualified. Today, fewer than half as many (32%) say Trump is well-qualified.
McCain, like Trump, got relatively low marks for being inspiring: 37% described him as inspiring, which is about the same share that says this applies to Trump today (35%). Obama was widely viewed as inspiring – 71% described him as inspiring in October 2008. Today, just 42% of voters say the same about Clinton.
Views among the candidates’ supporters
Among supporters of Clinton and Trump, substantial shares attribute positive traits to their own candidate, and few describe them negatively. But there are some differences between the two cohorts in how they think of their candidate.
Clinton supporters overwhelmingly say she is a good role model (90%) and well-qualified (97%). While a majority of Trump supporters ascribe the same attributes to him, they are less likely to do so than are Clinton backers: Six-in-ten Trump supporters say their candidate is a good role model, and 76% think of him as well-qualified.
On the other hand, while 80% of Trump supporters think of him as honest, a smaller majority (67%) of Clinton backers say she is honest.
Nearly half of Trump’s supporters (46%) say he is hard to like, while a third describe him as reckless. Smaller shares of Clinton supporters say she is hard to like (32%) or reckless (12%).
While Trump supporters overall describe their candidate positively, views differ between Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who say they supported Trump in the Republican primaries, and those who say they supported another Republican candidate. With the exception of Trump’s patriotism, the gap is at least 30 percentage points across all characteristics.
Republicans who supported him in the primaries are nearly three times as likely as those who supported another candidate (80% vs. 28%) to think of Trump as a good role model. And Trump primary supporters are roughly twice as likely as those who supported another primary candidate to think of Trump as well-qualified (89% vs. 46%) or as moral (85% vs. 40%).
And while a quarter or fewer Republicans who supported Trump in the primaries think of him as reckless or hard to like, majorities of Republicans who supported other candidates ascribe these negative traits to him. Nearly six-in-ten (59%) of those who supported another candidate in the primaries describe him as reckless, compared with just 23% of those who backed Trump for the GOP nomination. Fully 71% of Republicans who supported another candidate in the primaries think of Trump as “hard to like.”
There are striking differences on certain characteristics of Clinton based on primary support as well. Just 40% of those who say they supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary think of Clinton as honest, compared with more than twice as many (83%) of her primary supporters who say the same.
While a majority of those who supported Sanders think of Clinton as inspiring (56%), they are far less likely to think so than those who supported Clinton in the primaries (86%).
Though majorities of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters who supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary think of Clinton as moral (64%) and a strong leader (75%), these views are more widely held among those who backed Clinton for the Democratic nomination.
Few Democratic voters think of Clinton as “hard to like,” still 42% of Sanders primary supporters see her this way, compared with just a quarter of Clinton primary supporters (25%).
How well do the candidates understand the needs of voters?
Overall, half of voters say Clinton understands the needs of people like them very or fairly well, compared with 39% who say this about Trump. More voters say Trump understands their needs not at all well (45%) than say this about Clinton (33%).
Identical percentages of Clinton supporters and Trump supporters (88% each) say their own candidate understands their needs very or fairly well. Clinton supporters are somewhat more likely than Trump supporters to say the opposing candidate understands their needs not at all well (79% vs. 69%).
There are demographic differences among both Clinton and Trump supporters in the share who say their candidate understands their needs.
Voters age 50 and over who support Clinton are much more likely than supporters under age 50 to say Clinton understands the needs of people like them very well (56% vs. 26%).
Just 24% of Clinton supporters who say they preferred Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary elections say she understands their needs very well, compared with 58% of Clinton supporters who also preferred her in the primaries.
There is no gender gap among Clinton supporters on this question: 41% of women and 40% of men say she understands the needs of people like them very well.
Among Trump supporters, 57% of those who say he was their preferred candidate in the Republican primaries say he understands their needs very well; this compares with just 25% of Trump supporters who say they preferred some other Republican primary candidate.
As is the case among Clinton supporters, supporters of Trump who are age 50 and older are more likely than those ages 18-49 to say he understands their needs very well (46% vs. 33%).
About the same share of men (42%) and women (39%) who support Trump say he understands their needs very well.
Voters concerned by candidates’ perceived conflicts of interests
Voters express concern over both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s ability to serve the country’s best interests, if elected. A majority of voters say they are very or somewhat concerned Clinton (62%) or Trump (59%) would have relationships with organizations, businesses or foreign governments that would conflict with their abilities to serve the nation’s best interests. Fewer than two-in-ten voters say they are not at all concerned that Trump (19%) or Clinton (15%) would have conflicts of interest.
Most say the candidates represent the core principles of their parties
Democratic voters overwhelmingly say that Hillary Clinton “represents the core principles and positions that the Democratic Party should stand for.” About eight-in-ten (83%) say she does, while just 14% say she does not.
Three-quarters or more of nearly all Democratic subgroups see Clinton as representative of their party’s core values and policy positions.
On the GOP side, about two-thirds of Republican voters (65%) say that Donald Trump represents the core principles and positions of the GOP, while roughly three-in-ten (31%) do not see Trump as someone who represents what their party should stand for.
Republican voters who have not attended or not completed college are more likely than Republican college graduates to say that Trump represents core Republican principles and issue positions (69% vs. 56%).
The vast majority of conservative Republican and Republican-leaning voters see Trump as representative of what the GOP should stand for (75%), while among moderate and liberal Republicans assessments are more mixed (52% say that he does, 45% say that he does not).
Primary support is strongly related to assessments about whether the candidates represent what their parties should stand for. In particular, among Republican voters many who did not back Trump for the GOP nomination say he does not represent the Party’s principles and positions.
Those who supported Trump in the primaries widely see him as a representative for core Republican principles and positions (85%). Among Republicans who did not back Trump in the primaries, about as many say he does not (46%) represent what the Party should stand for as say he does represent it (50%).
Among Democratic voters, more than nine-in-ten of those who supported Clinton for the nomination (94%) and about three-quarters of Sanders primary backers (74%) now say Clinton represents core Democratic principles and positions.
This represents a shift in views among Sanders supporters over the last several months. Before the party conventions, a CBS/New York Times poll found some skepticism in Sanders supporters’ attitudes about Hillary Clinton. In July, just 48% of Democrats who reported voting for Bernie Sanders in the primary said that Clinton “represents the core principles and values that the Democratic Party should stand for.”