(Bloomberg) — Just 32 percent of Americans view the Republican Party favorably as it prepares to formally nominate Donald Trump for president, the latest Bloomberg Politics national poll shows, the lowest level recorded since the poll’s inception in September 2009.
The Democratic Party, by contrast, is seen favorably by 49 percent. Congress is viewed favorably by just 24 percent, the lowest since March 2010 and a response that found near bipartisan agreement in the poll.
Those views will not only shape the presidential race between Trump and Hillary Clinton, they could spill over into down-ballot contests that that will determine control of Congress and governorships after November.
“This is obviously related to perceptions of Trump,” said pollster J. Ann Selzer, who oversaw the survey. “This bleeds out into perceptions of the party and to other GOP politicians.”
Almost one in three Republicans say they feel unfavorably toward Trump, while just 17 percent of Democrats are unfavorable toward Clinton.
The survey, conducted Friday through Monday, shows a high level of upheaval within the GOP as Trump trails Clinton by 12 percentage points in the horse race. Among self-described Republicans, 28 percent say they feel unfavorably about their party. Just 4 percent of Democrats say they feel that way.
“You typically see near-universal approval of the party by party members,” Selzer said. “As recently as December of 2014, just 9 percent of Republicans said they were unfavorable toward the Republican Party.”
Sixty percent of likely voters say nominating Trump next month at the party’s national convention in Cleveland is bad for the Republican Party. Among likely Republican voters, 27 percent hold that view, while 69 percent say he’ll prove good for the party.
The polling traced some jarring contrasts in an election year with Americans feeling better off thanks to a protracted recovery, yet still gripped by an overall unease about the economy and the future. For one, just 23 percent of Americans say the country is going in the right direction, among the lowest shares recorded in a Bloomberg national poll. Yet at the same time, a majority, 55 percent, say they’re personally better off than at the start of 2009, when President Barack Obama took office. That’s the highest level for that metric since the poll first asked the question in December 2010.
Forty-nine percent of Americans say today’s children will have a lower standard of living than their parents, up from 45 percent when asked in the poll four years ago. Here, too, there’s more pessimism among Republicans than Democrats, 62 percent to 33 percent.
There was virtually no difference between members of the two parties when asked about their mood ahead of the coming election. Given five choices, 30 percent of likely voters picked “optimistic.” That was followed by 18 percent each for “pessimistic” and “disillusioned,” 19 percent for “afraid,” and 12 percent for “enthusiastic.”
Unemployment and jobs was selected as the top issue facing the nation, with 20 percent of Americans choosing it from a list of 10 options. Other top picks included a decline in real income for workers (14 percent), terrorism (13 percent), health care (11 percent), and threats from the Islamic State (10 percent).
In his race with Clinton, Trump continues to score best among likely voters seeking a strong leader. That was one of four candidate qualities tested in the poll, along with someone who “shares your values,” someone who “cares about people like you,” and someone who has a “vision for the future.”
Only 17 percent of the Democrats polled said they have unfavorable views of Hillary Clinton (Photo: Candidate photo)
The real-estate developer and TV personality wins 53 percent of likely voters who pick strong leadership as their single most important trait for deciding their vote. Clinton, meanwhile, wins half or more among those who select one of the other three traits as their top factor.
Clinton doesn’t have a lot to gain by emphasizing that she’d be the first woman elected U.S. president, the poll shows. Her gender, which played a more central role in her unsuccessful 2008 White House bid, is a non-issue to most.
Two out of three likely voters who are women say Clinton’s status as the first woman to be the presumptive nominee of a major party doesn’t matter. A majority of every demographic group agrees, with the highest support for wanting to see her play up the historic nature of her candidacy found among women Democrats, at 30 percent.
“In 2008, Hillary Clinton put millions of cracks in the glass ceiling, paving the way for the next woman who sought the presidency,” Selzer said. “As it turned out, she paved the way for herself. It is now considered a non-event.”
Among other descriptions of presidents tested with likely voters, Clinton beats Trump on the majority of them. She’s perceived as stronger on fighting for the middle class, having the right temperament, being ready to lead on day one in office, getting things done in Washington, being a good role model for children, and possessing the skills needed to conduct foreign policy.
Trump is viewed stronger at knowing what it takes to create jobs, reining in the power of Wall Street, changing the way Washington does business, and combating terrorist threats at home and abroad.