Elections, Fall 2016 Articles, Politics

Students Having a Hard Time Supporting Either Candidate

It is no secret that both the Republican and Democratic candidates this year have had trouble gaining favor with voters. With favorability at just 38% and 43%, respectively, voters are hesitant to put their support behind either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Clinton, a candidate that President Obama called “likeable enough,” struggles in polling on trustworthiness. Trump also lacks in this arena as well as perceptions of him being “temperamentally unfit” for the presidency.

These perceptions are echoed in polling released by Quinnipiac University. The August 2015 poll asked respondents to give one word about each candidate. The results were extremely unified with “liar” being the number one result for Hillary Clinton and “arrogant” being the number one response for Trump. Together, they are two of the most disliked candidates in presidential history. Each candidate’s likability ratings benefited from their respective party conventions, however, the averages have remained fairly steady. 

To see these stats in action, NC State Pack Poll asked students to give the one word they think of when either candidate comes to mind. The results are very much aligned with the national sentiment.



For Clinton, being trusted continues to be her biggest pitfall. Amidst her reputation as a career politician, voters have a difficult time separating her record from her potential. The word cloud above displays the most commonly said words, with larger words being the ones said most frequently. Among other phrases listed, “not Trump,” “better than Trump,” and “less concerning,” were popular responses, suggesting that while neither candidate is likable to voters, respondents weigh each candidate and are choosing what they have called “a lesser of two evils.”


As for Trump, the answers of our respondents are in line with the national narrative that Trump is a bigot, a racist, and unqualified. However, some students also responded in the same fashion as the previous question about Clinton, with answers such as “best option,” “different,” and “not Hillary.”

Likability is an important part of elections. A candidates’ ability to come across to voters as relatable has been the key to many victories in the past. In November, the candidate seen as more favorable will be the victor, regardless of how enthusiastic voters are about their choice.

More articles are forthcoming about the data and its implications, and the toplines are available here: Big Poll Fall 2016 Top Lines

NOTE ON METHODOLOGY: This “Big Poll” took place October 2-6, 2016. The survey was administered over the internet to a random sample of 4,000 NCSU undergraduates, generating a 22% response rate for completed surveys. Sampling error is +/-3% for completed surveys and questions asked of the full sample; it is higher for sub-groups and questions asked of only portions of the full sample.

In addition to sampling error, other forms of error occur in surveys, such as confusion about question wording or the order of questions, but these are not precisely quantifiable. We have applied post-stratification sample weights for demographic imbalances in gender, which had minor but noticeable effects on the results.

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