For a president with historically low poll numbers, Donald Trump can at least find solace in this: Hillary Clinton is doing worse.
Trump’s 2016 Democratic rival is viewed favorably by just 39 percent of Americans in the latest Bloomberg National Poll, two points lower than the president. It’s the second-lowest score for Clinton since the poll started tracking her in September 2009.
The former secretary of state has always been a polarizing figure, but this survey shows she’s even lost popularity among those who voted for her in November.
More than a fifth of Clinton voters say they have an unfavorable view of her. By comparison, just 8 percent of likely Clinton voters felt that way in the final Bloomberg poll before the election, and just 6 percent of Trump’s voters now say they view him unfavorably.
“There’s growing discontent with Hillary Clinton even as she has largely stayed out of the spotlight,” said pollster J. Ann Selzer, who oversaw the survey. “It’s not a pox on the Democratic house because numbers for other Democrats are good.”
The former first lady and New York senator has made a few speeches and occasionally tweaks Trump on Twitter, but has mostly kept out of sight since a defeat in November that shocked the political establishment and surprised markets.
In follow-up interviews with poll participants, Clinton voters denied that their negative feelings about her had anything to do with her losing the election and, therefore, helping Trump move into the White House.
Instead, their comments often reflected the ongoing angst among Democrats about how best to position themselves against Trump and Republicans in 2018 and beyond. Many said they wished Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont had won the Democratic nomination, or that they never liked Clinton and only voted for her because she was the lesser of two bad choices.
“She did not feel authentic or genuine to me,” said Chris Leininger, 29, an insurance agent from Fountain Valley, California. “She was hard to like.”
Leininger, an independent voter who leans Democratic, said she found Sanders much more likable and with a better story to tell voters.
“But I don’t blame her for Trump,” she said. “There were a lot of factors that fed into Trump becoming a president and she was just one of them.”
As was the case throughout the campaign, Clinton suffers from gender and racial gaps. Just 35 percent of men hold a favorable view of her, compared to 43 percent of women. And just 32 percent of whites like her, while 51 percent of non-whites do.
Clinton’s lowest reading ever in the Bloomberg poll — one percentage point lower than her current popularity — was recorded in September 2015, as she battled with Sanders before the first primary ballots were cast and as the scandal surrounding her use of a private email server escalated.
“I felt like there was a smugness and that she was just a politician who was called a Democrat, but could have been a Republican,” said poll participant Robert Taylor, 46, a second-grade teacher from suburban Chicago who voted for Clinton, but would have preferred Sanders as the Democratic nominee.
Even before the election, Taylor said he felt negatively about Clinton, but he doesn’t blame her for Trump being president.
“I could vote for a competent leader or I could vote for [whatever],” he said of his choices. “I think my negativity about her would be there whether Trump was elected or not.”
Ray Cowart, 75, the retired owner of a small software company from Elk Park, North Carolina, said he voted for Clinton even though he didn’t like her because “she was the better of two bad options.”
Asked who he would rather have a beer with if neither one of them was president, Cowart said he’d rather stay home. “I wouldn’t go, even if I was thirsty,” he said.
In contrast to Clinton, former President Barack Obama has fared well with some distance from the spotlight. He’s viewed favorably by 61 percent, up 5 points since December and at the highest level since the poll began tracking him in September 2009.
Former Vice President Joe Biden is just one percentage point below Obama and at his highest level since the poll started asking about him in December 2009.
The telephone poll of 1,001 American adults has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, higher among subgroups. It was conducted July 8-12 by Iowa-based Selzer & Co.