AP-GfK Poll: Trump Tops on Decisiveness, Electability


Republicans don’t see Donald Trump as likable or compassionate, but he’s viewed by Republican registered voters as their party’s most decisive, most competent and most electable candidate, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

Here are some things to know about public opinion on the presidential candidates from the new poll:


Eight in 10 Republican registered voters called Trump very or somewhat decisive, while more than 6 in 10 called him very or somewhat competent. Trump is far atop the field on decisiveness. Of the other four Republican candidates tested in the poll, Ted Cruz came closest, with 56 percent calling him very or somewhat decisive, followed by Ben Carson at 53 percent, Marco Rubio at 52 percent and Jeb Bush at 42 percent.

The poll was taken before Trump called for a ban on Muslims coming into the U.S.

Just 31 percent of Republican voters said Trump is at least somewhat compassionate, and 43 percent said he is at least somewhat likable. Carson was viewed as most compassionate and likable, with 7 in 10 Republican voters saying each word describes him at least somewhat well.

But while 9 in 10 Republican voters said decisiveness and competence are extremely or very important in a candidate for president, just 6 in 10 said compassion is that important, and only half said it’s that important for a candidate to be likable.

Nine in 10 Republican voters also agreed that honesty is an important quality in a presidential candidate, but they were more divided on whether that’s a description that applies to Trump. Fifty-five percent said “honest” describes him very or somewhat well, and 43 percent said it describes him only slightly or not at all well. But Bush, Rubio and Cruz didn’t perform significantly better on that measure. Carson, on the other hand, was viewed as at least somewhat honest by 66 percent of Republican voters.


Republicans were more likely to see Trump as a potential general-election winner than to say that about any other candidate. Three-quarters thought he could win in November if nominated. Rubio (63 percent), Carson (60 percent) and Cruz (55 percent) were also seen as general-election winners by more than half of Republicans.

But Trump isn’t without weaknesses. Although 58 percent of Republican registered voters rated him favorably, the 38 percent who gave him an unfavorable rating was among the highest in the GOP field.

But Republican voters also don’t think Trump is getting a fair shake from the media. Two-thirds say media coverage is generally biased against him, more than say so of the other top candidates.


On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was viewed favorably by 80 percent of Democratic registered voters and unfavorably by just 14 percent. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was viewed favorably by 54 percent of Democratic voters and unfavorably by 21 percent, with 24 percent saying they still don’t know enough about him to have an opinion.

Clinton was viewed as decisive and competent by more than three-quarters of Democratic voters, and as compassionate and likable by two-thirds, topping Sanders on each of those measures. About 6 in 10 called each of the top two Democratic candidates honest.

Nine in 10 said Clinton could win a general election, while just over half said that of Sanders.


Regardless of who wins the nominations, candidates will have a long way to go to win the favor of a majority of Americans. No candidate was viewed more positively than negatively among Americans as a whole. Trump received negative ratings from nearly 6 in 10 Americans, and Bush was viewed unfavorably by half of them.

Americans were divided in their views of Democrats Clinton (44 percent favorable to 46 percent unfavorable) and Sanders (31 percent favorable to 32 percent unfavorable). They were also fairly closely divided on Republicans Rubio (30 percent favorable to 33 percent unfavorable) and Carson (32 percent favorable to 36 percent unfavorable). Cruz was viewed more unfavorably than favorably, 37 percent to 24 percent.

But Clinton stood out from the field as the candidate viewed as most able to win a general election, with 78 percent thinking she could win if nominated. Trump came in second, with 55 percent thinking of him as a possible general-election winner. No other candidate was seen as able to win a general election by more than 45 percent of all Americans.


The AP-GfK Poll of 1,007 adults was conducted online Dec. 3-7, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points, and is higher for subgroups.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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