Unloved Clinton Would Defeat Despised Trump

Hillary Clinton is likely to win in November, but only because her Republican opponents are disliked even more.

Former American secretary of state Hillary Clinton prepares to make a speech in Boston, Massachusetts, February 29
Former American secretary of state Hillary Clinton prepares to make a speech in Boston, Massachusetts, February 29 (Hillary for America/Barbara Kinney)

Whatever else can be said about the relative virtues of the two Democratic candidates running in the presidential primary election, the party should consider itself fortunate that the Republicans are about to nominate Donald Trump.

HuffPost Pollster, which aggregates favorability polls to provide a more holistic outlook, has Clinton’s favorability rating at -12.7. Trump’s net favorability is at -29.5.

Clinton’s rival, Bernie Sanders, by comparison, enjoys a net favorability of +11.1, alone among all candidates but John Kasich in being in positive territory.

According to CBS, both Clinton and Trump are viewed more unfavorably than any major-party frontrunner in polling history.

Lesser of two evils?

Despite her net negatives, Clinton still beats Trump in Huffpost Pollster‘s aggregation by 9.5 points and Ted Cruz by 4.2 points. Sanders polls much better, with numbers evoking a 1964-esque landslide against either candidate.

But this electability question does not appear to matter to primary voters. Regardless of the perceived danger of a Trump presidency, many Democrats seem to view their party’s victory in the general election as a certainty.

A near-certain (or even probable) Clinton victory in November is only possible because Trump is in fact leading in the nomination on the other side. It is almost certain that if a latter-day John McCain was set to win the Republican nomination, those numbers would be reversed.

Indeed, one wonders about Clinton’s reelection prospects against a Republican Party which has figured out that its problem isn’t that it needs to go “more conservative” — but that rather it needs to reenter the mainstream of American politics.