Both Democrats and Republicans are poised to nominate deeply unpopular, deeply polarizing candidates for president this year, but Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton would begin a general election with a significant advantage against all but one Republican candidate — Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Clinton leads Republican front-runner Donald Trump by seven points, 45 percent to 38 percent, among registered voters, according to a new Morning Consult survey. She leads Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) by a wider 44 percent to 36 percent margin. But Clinton’s advantage over Kasich is a statistically insignificant two points, 41 percent to 39 percent.[table “95” not found /]
Kasich’s advantage comes, in part, because many Americans have yet to form an opinion of him. Thirty-one percent of registered voters say they either have no opinion of the Ohio Republican or have never heard of him.
Trump and Cruz, on the other hand, are viewed unfavorably by a significant number of Americans. Sixty-two percent say they have an unfavorable opinion of Trump, while 49 percent say the same of Cruz. Their favorable ratings are paltry by comparison: 34 percent see Trump favorably, and 35 percent see Cruz in a positive light.
Clinton doesn’t fare much better: Just 40 percent see her favorably, while 55 percent say they view her unfavorably.
The only presidential candidate seen in a positive light by a majority of Americans is Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has a 51 percent favorable rating. While Clinton leads Republicans by two to eight percentage points, Sanders wipes the floor with the GOP: He leads Kasich 46 percent to 32 percent; Trump 51 percent to 35 percent; and Cruz 49 percent to 31 percent.
But Democrats and Republicans are on a path toward nominating their worst-performing candidates. Clinton leads Sanders by more than 300 pledged delegates, and by almost 800 delegates when party leaders and elected officials are factored in; she is expected to add to her lead on Tuesday, when voters cast ballots in the Arizona primary and in caucuses in Utah and Idaho. Nationally, Clinton leads Sanders by a 51 percent to 39 percent margin among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents.[table “102” not found /]
On the GOP side, Trump is the only candidate with a realistic path to the 1,237 delegates he needs to secure the GOP nomination. Trump has won 680 pledged delegates with 1,044 remaining to be allocated; Cruz, with 424 delegates, would need to win almost 80 percent of the remaining delegates to secure the nomination. Kasich trails with 143 delegates; his only chance at securing the nomination would come in a contested convention.
Trump is likely to win Arizona on Tuesday, the largest prize on the Republican side. Cruz is polling well ahead in Utah, which would be his ninth win of the primary season. Trump leads among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents with 45 percent, Cruz takes 26 percent, and Kasich trails at just 13 percent.[table “101” not found /]
In hypothetical general election matchups, Clinton leads both Trump and Cruz by double-digit margins among those who call themselves moderates; among voters who have graduated from college; and among voters in the Northeast and Midwest. Clinton leads Trump among black voters by a 74 percent to 8 percent margin, and among Hispanics by a 64 percent to 22 percent margin.
Trump’s 22 percent among Hispanics is five points lower than the percentage Mitt Romney received against President Obama in 2012, and half the 44 percent George W. Bush received when he won re-election in 2004.