Hillary Clinton has a solid lead in the Democratic 2016 race, but supporters of both Clinton and Sanders have favorable opinions of their competition.
Registered voters who identify as Democrats appear to see the contest for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination as a competition between two contenders who are both liked – even by those who favor the other. In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continues to hold her large lead over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, as before, trails far behind.
There has been little change in these figures recently. Sanders does best with liberals, a group where he runs close to Clinton: 49% of liberals nationally favor Clinton, 43% support Sanders. But the Vermonter continues to face difficulties attracting minority Democrats. Black Democrats favor Clinton 72% to 15%; Hispanics favor Clinton 76% to 22%.
While Sanders supporters may not love Clinton, most don’t necessarily hate her. 71% of Sanders supporters have a favorable view of Clinton. However, only 22% are veryfavorable towards the former Senator — a percentage close to the number of Sanders supporters who are unfavorable towards Clinton. The same is true when Clinton voters are asked their opinion of Sanders. Just 22% of Clinton voters have very favorable views of Sanders, but only 24% dislike him.
Sanders continues to be less well-known than Clinton.
More than half of Clinton voters say Sanders is their second choice; two-thirds of Sanders supporters say Clinton is their second choice.
Few want either of the top two candidates to drop out – in fact, only one in five Democrats think even O’Malley should leave the race. The percentage saying Sanders or Clinton should drop out is in single digits. Looking at the much more crowded GOP field, more than half of Republicans would be happy to lose some of the lower performing candidates, and a third of Republicans believe former Florida Governor Jeb Bush shouldleave the race.
Sanders voters are more likely than Clinton voters to express enthusiasm should their candidates be nominated. Still, two out of three Clinton voters would be enthusiastic about her nomination.
Clinton still maintains an aura of invincibility. By four to one, Democrats believe that she, not Sanders, will be the party’s eventual nominee. Even a majority of Sanders supporters agree. 53% of them say Clinton will be nominated; just 40% think Sanders will. Not that Democrats believe Sanders is unelectable against a Republican. Nearly two in three think he could win. More, however, say that about Clinton.
Clinton is even seen by Republicans as someone who can win. Only one in four Republicans don’t believe she couldn’t possibly win next November; nearly half say that about Sanders. Clinton is seen as just about as electable by Republicans as the GOP’s leading candidates. Just about as many Republicans think Clinton could win a general election next fall as think that about Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.