Sep 23, 2016 6:00 PM
AP-GfK Poll: Majority of Americans fear Trump presidency
The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — More than half the country fears a Trump presidency. And only about a third of Americans believe he is at least somewhat qualified to serve in the White House.
In the final sprint to Election Day, a new Associated Press-GfK poll underscores those daunting roadblocks for Donald Trump as he tries to overtake Hillary Clinton.
Moreover, most voters oppose the hard-line approach to immigration that is a centerpiece of the billionaire businessman's campaign. They are more likely to trust Clinton to handle a variety of issues facing the country, and Trump has no advantage on the national security topics also at the forefront of his bid.
Trump undoubtedly has a passionate base of support, seen clearly among the thousands of backers who fill the stands at his signature rallies. But most people don't share that fervor. Only 29 percent of registered voters would be excited and just 24 percent would be proud should Trump prevail in November.
Only one in four voters find him even somewhat civil or compassionate, and just a third say he's not at all racist.
"We as Americans should be embarrassed about Donald Trump," said Michael DeLuise, 66, a retired university vice president and registered Republican who lives in Eugene, Oregon. "We as Americans have always been able to look at the wacky leaders of other countries and say 'Phew, that's not us.' We couldn't if Trump wins. It's like putting P.T. Barnum in charge. And it's getting dangerous."
To be sure, the nation is sour on Clinton, too. Only 39 percent of voters have a favorable view of the Democratic nominee, compared to the 56 percent who view her unfavorably. Less than a third say they would be excited or proud should she move into the White House.
"I think she's an extremely dishonest person and have extreme disdain for her and her husband," said one registered Republican, Denise Pettitte, 36, from Watertown, Wisconsin. "I think it would be wonderful to elect a woman, but a different woman."
But as poorly as voters may view Clinton, they think even less of Trump.
Forty-four percent say they would be afraid if Clinton, the former secretary of state, is elected, far less than the 56 percent who say the same of Trump. He's viewed more unfavorably than favorably by a 61 percent to 34 percent margin, and more say their unfavorable opinion of the New Yorker is a strong one than say the same of Clinton, 50 percent to 44 percent.
That deep disdain for both candidates prompts three-quarters of voters to say that a big reason they'll be casting their ballot is to stop someone, rather than elect someone.
"It's not really a vote for her as much as it's a vote against Trump," said Mark Corbin, 59, a business administrator and registered Democrat from Media, Pennsylvania.
Roughly half of voters see Clinton at least somewhat qualified, while just 30 percent say Trump is.
Even when it comes to what may be Clinton's greatest weakness, the perception that she is dishonest, Trump fails to perform much better: 71 percent say she's only slightly or not at all honest, while 66 percent say the same of Trump. Forty-nine percent say Clinton is at least somewhat corrupt, but 43 percent say that of Trump.
"Whatever her problems are, they don't even come close to him," said JoAnn Dinkelman, 66, a Republican from Rancho Cucamonga, California, who will cross party lines and vote for Clinton. "Everything that comes out of his mouth that is fact-checked turns out to be a lie."
Trump finds no respite with voters when it comes to what he vows to do as president, either.
Nearly 6 in 10 oppose his promise to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, and only 21 percent of his supporters and 9 percent of registered voters overall are very confident he would succeed at fulfilling his promise that Mexico would pay for the construction.
Six in 10 believe there should be a way for immigrants living in the country illegally to become U.S. citizens — a view that Trump opposes.
"The wall isn't the answer. It's not feasible and Mexico won't pay for it," said Timothy Seitz, 26, a graduate student at the Ohio State University and a Republican. "We should be leaders. We shouldn't cower from others and cut ourselves off in the world."
Beyond immigration, voters say they trust Clinton over Trump by wide margins when it comes to health care, race relations and negotiations with Russia. She also narrowly tops Trump when it comes to filling Supreme Court vacancies, as well as another of the billionaire's signature issues: handling international trade.
Trump is narrowly favored on creating jobs, 39 percent to 35 percent, while in general, voters are about equally split on which candidate would better handle the economy. Voters are slightly more likely to trust Trump than Clinton on handling gun laws, 39 percent to 35 percent.
Voters are closely split on which candidate would better handle protecting the country and evenly divided on which would better handle the threat posed by the Islamic State group. And Americans are much more likely to say they trust Clinton than Trump to do a better job handling the U.S. image abroad.
The AP-GfK Poll of 1,694 adults, including 1,476 registered voters, was conducted online Sept. 15-19, 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 2.5 percentage points, and for registered voters plus or minus 2.7 points.
Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn't have access to the internet were provided access for free.
Poll results: http://ap-gfkpoll.com
Follow Jonathan Lemire and AP Polling Editor Emily Swanson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JonLemire and http://twitter.com/EL_Swan