I saw a lot of strategists on both sides saying that Clinton’s “deplorables” attack would hurt her like Romney’s 47% remark hurt him. While the partisans doubled down, the professionals were pretty sure it would hurt Clinton.
But the poll findings underscore how Trump’s no-holds-barred approach may be wearing on the country. Despite efforts by his campaign to keep him on message, his image as an outspoken firebrand who brazenly skips past societal norms appears deeply ingrained among voters.
Nearly three in four do not view him as even somewhat civil or compassionate. Half say he’s at least somewhat racist. Those numbers are largely unchanged from the last time the AP-GfK survey was conducted in July.
Even among those saying they’ll most likely vote for Trump, 40 percent say they think the word “compassionate” doesn’t describe him well.
“He was always a decent guy even with his marriages and everything,” said David Singer, a retiree from Simsbury, Connecticut. “But when he got on the debate stage something happened to him. The insults just got me crazy. I couldn’t believe what he was telling people.”
Trump is viewed unfavorably by 61 percent of registered voters, and Clinton by 56 percent. But despite her similarly high unfavorability rating, voters do not hold the same negative views about her as they do of Trump.
Only 21 percent believe she’s very or somewhat racist. Half say she’s at least somewhat civil and 42 percent view her as compassionate.
I honestly think this attack by Clinton really would have hurt her except for social media. Trump supporters on Facebook and Twitter are increasingly unhinged, increasingly prone to circulating graphics oblivious to how others might view the same graphics, and going to rhetorical extremes.
Trump’s most zealous supporters are the biggest gift to Hillary Clinton. Again, it is worth pointing out that I’ve never had Obama, Clinton, McCain, or Romney supporters show up at my house or yell at my kids in the store. But Trump’s supporters have done all of the above and more. Their anger and desperation is not really effective evangelism outside their pre-existing tribe.