Americans on both sides see this election cycle as “really damaging” to their country

Americans on both sides see this election cycle as “really damaging” to their country


November 4, 2016 – With just days left in the U.S. Presidential election, Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump by 4 percentage points among likely voters, according to new polling data collected by the Angus Reid Institute in partnership with MARU/Matchbox.

The Democratic nominee leads her Republican opponent among younger voters and minorities, as well as among voters with university degrees.

As it has been throughout the campaign, Trump’s strength is among white voters and those ages 55 and older, who are known to turn out at a higher rate than other age groups.

Collected through Springboard America – the most accurate online panel during the 2012 presidential election – the data suggest voters are increasingly “locked-in” to their choices, though the 2016 race remains considerably more volatile than the Barack Obama/Mitt Romney contest in 2012.

Key Findings:electionmetho

  • Americans on both sides see this election as “really damaging” to their country (75% agree with a statement to this effect), and say “American politics have reached an all-time low” (86%)
  • Voters’ opinions of the candidates are worsening as the election draws to a close, with 41 per cent saying they think less highly of Trump now than two weeks ago, and 46 per cent saying the same about Clinton
  • Though Clinton’s lead in the popular vote has narrowed, Americans are still more than twice as likely to expect her to win the election (49% do) as to anticipate a Trump victory (21%)

Most voters are decided, but some uncertainty remains

After a week dominated by headlines about the FBI’s discovery of new emails it deemed relevant to her use of a private email server while she was Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has seen her lead in national polling averages slip considerably from where it was last month.

Clinton remains ahead, however, leading Donald Trump among decided and leaning likely voters by 48 per cent to 44 per cent, with 6 per cent planning to vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson and 2 per cent planning to vote for some other candidate.

Support for the Democratic nominee is strongest among younger voters and ethnic minorities, while Trump leads among voters in the 55-plus age group, men, and whites (see comprehensive tables for greater detail).

Trump has a commanding lead among men 55 and older, earning the support of nearly two-thirds of this group, as seen in the following graph:


Overall, Clinton leads by 10 points among women (51% to 41%), while Trump leads by 3 points among men (48% to 45%).

Potential Trump advantages

In addition to his older – and thus more likely to vote – base, Trump holds several advantages that could help the race continue to tighten. First, as will be discussed later in this release, a greater number of voters say their opinion of him has improved in the last two weeks than say the same of Clinton.

The Republican nominee also holds a marginal advantage over Clinton in terms of voter retention. Some 87 per cent of those who supported Romney in 2012 say they plan to vote for Trump, with only 7 per cent jumping ship to Clinton.

For her part, Clinton retains 80 per cent of Obama’s 2012 support, but more than one-in-ten (13%) say they will vote for Trump this time around.

Lastly, Trump holds an advantage among undecided voters who say they are leaning toward one candidate or the other. Among this small group (just 6% of the total sample), respondents are more than twice as likely to lean toward the Republican (27% do) as to lean toward the Democrat (12%).

Potential Clinton advantages

Clinton has a substantial lead in this poll among the 21 per cent of decided voters who have already cast their ballots in advance.

Among this group, 57 per cent say they voted for the Democratic nominee, while 39 per cent say they voted for Trump.

This follows well-documented early voting patterns, which usually see Democrats voting early in larger numbers than Republicans.

That said, Clinton’s early-voting advantage, coupled with her superior “ground-game,” could prove to be the difference on Nov. 8.

Almost half are voting against a candidate, rather than for one

As was the case when the Angus Reid Institute polled Americans earlier this year, almost half of decided voters say they are backing their candidate not because of what he or she stands for, but to block the other candidate from becoming president.

This phenomenon, sometimes known as “negative voting” is always at play in U.S. elections, but it has been especially pronounced during the 2016 campaign.

Some 44 per cent of Hillary Clinton supporters say they plan to vote for her as a way to block Trump from becoming president, a view especially common among younger Clinton voters:


Likewise, 44 per cent of Trump supporters say they plan to vote for their candidate in order to keep Clinton out of the White House.

Almost one-in-five say voting process will be “rigged”

For months, Donald Trump has been suggesting that the election outcome will be “rigged” against him. This narrative arguably culminated in his refusal during the third debate to commit to accepting the outcome of the election if he loses.

Voters appear to have less doubt about the legitimacy of the process than Trump does. Fully four-in-five of them (82%) say they expect the voting process in their area to be “fair.”

The percentage who expect the election to be rigged is higher among Trumpists than Clintonites, with some three-in-ten (29%) saying they think the process is not fair:


This number equates to millions of Americans who, like Trump, may claim a Clinton victory was “stolen” rather than won. At the same time, it also suggests that the majority of Trump supporters would accept a Trump loss, even if their candidate did not.

Opinion of each candidate has worsened in recent weeks

Much has been written about how deeply unpopular Clinton and Trump are as candidates. The pair have the highest unfavourability ratings of any two major-party presidential nominees in U.S. history.

As the campaign reaches its final hours, most voters say their opinions of the two candidates are either staying the same or worsening. Almost half of respondents (45%) say their opinion of Clinton has worsened in the last two weeks, while only one-in-ten (11%) say their opinion of her has improved.

Opinion of Trump is about twice as likely to have improved in the last two weeks (20% say their opinion of him has improved), but those who say their opinion of the Republican candidate has worsened still significantly outnumber those who say it has improved:


Notably, Trump supporters are much more likely than Clinton supporters to report that their opinion of their preferred candidate has improved in recent weeks. Two-in-five (41%) Trumpists say their opinion of him has improved, compared to 23 per cent of Clintonites who say the same about their candidate.

Clinton supporters expect their candidate to win

For all the positive momentum Trump may have, relatively few voters expect him to emerge victorious on November 8th.

Half of respondents (49%) say they think Hillary Clinton will win the election and become the next president, compared to fewer than half that many (21%) who think a Trump administration is imminent.

Voting intentions are a significant factor in producing this gap. Among Clinton supporters, eight-in-ten (82%) expect their candidate to win, while Trump supporters are less confident, as seen in the graph that follows:


Three-in-four say this election is damaging America

There are lots of points of disagreement between backers of the two candidates, but even the ideas on which they agree serve to highlight the deeply polarized political climate.

Voters on both sides agree that “American politics have reached an all-time low” (85% of Trump supporters and 86% of Clinton supporters agree), and that “this is election is really damaging America” (68% Trump; 77% Clinton).

Likewise, supporters of each candidate say they will be “extremely upset” if the other wins (75% of Trump voters agree, as do 85% of Clinton voters).

The result is a stark portrait of a country deeply unhappy with its politics, and divided over whether the system will recover:


Trump supporters are more likely to express concern about the state of American democracy. Only 35 per cent agree it is “alive and well,” whereas 64 percent of Clinton supporters say the same.

The media is also a sore spot for Trump voters, the vast majority of whom disagree with the notion that media coverage of their candidate has been fair (85% do so). Clinton supporters, on the other hand, largely feel the Republican candidate has been treated fairly by the media (81% agree) and are also generally satisfied with their own candidate’s treatment (65%):


The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) was founded in October 2014 by pollster and sociologist, Dr. Angus Reid. ARI is a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research organization established to advance education by commissioning, conducting and disseminating to the public accessible and impartial statistical data, research and policy analysis on economics, political science, philanthropy, public administration, domestic and international affairs and other socio-economic issues of importance to Canada and its world.

Click here for the full report including tables, sample size and methodology

Click here for the questionnaire used in this survey

For detailed results by age, gender, region, education, and other demographics, click here.

For detailed results by vote intention, click here.

Image – Dan Keck/Flickr


Angus Reid, Chairman: 604.505.2229

Shachi Kurl, Executive Director: 604.908.1693

Ian Holliday, Research Associate: 604.442.3312

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