4 May 2016

44% of Americans are “terrified” at prospect of President Trump


At midnight last night Iain Martin, CapX’s esteemed editor was not sitting on the fence:

“The Republican party is lumbered with a candidate who has made the most appalling remarks about women, the disabled, Muslims and Mexicans. He is a trainee demagogue who burbles on like a pillock at the bar about his pet hates. And he will be the GOP’s candidate against Hillary Clinton. For America, this is a shameful day. For the rest of us it is terrifying.”

How “terrified” are Americans? We asked YouGov’s First Verdict panel;

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The answer, after more than 3,000 responses weighted by political ID, gender and age, is 44% are terrified, thinking “he could be one of the worst ever presidents”. 44% is, of course, a lot but it’s down from the 49% who were terrified in February. Perhaps a few February-time supporters of Cruz, Rubio, Bush or other Republicans have decided not to be so terrified now the billionaire celebrity has got the GOP nomination wrapped up? The overall percentage feeling negative is 58% as another 14% of the YouGov panel expect to be disappointed by a Trump presidency because “he will not be good for America”. They’re just not “terrified”.

31% say they will celebrate or be pleased at Trump succeeding President Obama but only 13% are diehards believing that he can make good on his campaign motto to Make America Great Again. 18% think the system will prevent him from doing very much. I addressed this “he’s-worth-a-go” faction in my column for Thursday’s The Times:

“My experience of speaking to people at Trump events in Virginia, South Carolina, Florida and Georgia is that they are far from convinced that the now almost-certain Republican nominee will make a difference to their situation but they were certain that Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and the other defeated establishment types definitely wouldn’t bring any change.”

For many Americans – fed up of unsuccessful overseas wars and economic hard times – Trump is simply a roll of the dice. Many Americans know, in other words, that Trump is not exactly the most truthful, or kindest, or wisest, or most scrupulous candidate to ever stand for the world’s most powerful office but he might, just might, be better than the same old, same old. Take the answers to a question we also asked today: Only 5% think the allegation made against Ted Cruz’s father – that he helped in the assassination of J F Kennedy – was true and it was right for Mr Trump to bring to voters’ attention. But Mr Trump did. 72% thought the story, taken from the National Enquirer, was probably false but that Mr Trump knows that mud sticks and he isn’t afraid to throw it around.

Mrs Clinton had better be ready. Up until now Bernie Sanders (still doing pretty, pretty, pretty well against her in match-up polls) has not attacked her for her controversial private emails system, her husband’s past or her mixed foreign policy record. Mr Trump? He will attack her on every front you can think of – and a good number that nobody has yet thought of.

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For more about Portrait of America and the methodology behind First Verdict, click here.

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Tim Montgomerie is Editor of Portrait of America