By Jay Boyd, Fox News Summer College Associate
Politicians on both sides of the aisle are experiencing problems with favorability as the primary season approaches.
According to a recent Gallup poll, Republican candidates are a lot more likely to be known than liked among the Republican voters. The candidate with the most familiarity among Americans is Donald Trump, but he also has one of the lowest net favorability ratings. Jeb Bush is the second best-known candidate, but he barely cracks the top half of Republicans in terms of favorability. The top favored Republican candidates are Marco Rubio and Ben Carson, but they’re both below 65% in familiarity.
On the Democrat side, one candidate is experiencing a boom in favorability, while the other is encountering the exact opposite. Another Gallup poll shows Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ favorability rating doubling since March, from 12 to 24 percent among Americans polled. At the same time, the percentage of people who view him unfavorably has risen from 12 to 20 percent. These numbers come from Americans becoming more aware of the Senator, with his familiarity rating going from 24 to 44 percent.
Those numbers could be directly correlated with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s fading favorability. In the same poll, Clinton’s favorability has plummeted to 43%. For reference, her favorability was just short of 60% as recently as 2014. However, she still holds the highest “absolute” ratings of Americans who view her favorably, when compared to her Democratic competitors. No other candidate on the Democratic side can touch her familiarity rating of 89%, as well.
What could explain the low net favorability ratings across the board? The poll numbers for trust in the government could.
A Fox News poll from June found that 61% of Americans do not trust the federal government. And this is not a new trend. In 2011 and 2013, 62% of Americans didn’t put their trust in Uncle Sam. Lack of transparency in the government could be the culprit of these numbers, with only 29% of Americans saying the federal government is appropriately transparent.
When the general consensus is that government is untrustworthy and opaque (or at the very least, translucent), the likelihood of the American people trusting anyone running for President is bound to be pretty low, regardless of party.
Americans could be looking for a candidate who sweeps them off their feet; someone who is smart, yet charismatic. Think Bill Clinton on the Arsenio Hall Show type of charisma. Think Ronald Reagan hearing a loud bang and saying “you missed me” (after being shot earlier in his presidency).
Faith and trust in government have hit near rock bottom levels in the 2000s-- and we will have to wait and see if a candidate emerges that can change that.