AP-GfK poll: Clinton better liked by party, Sanders closing

AP News
Posted: Feb 19, 2016 9:03 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Clinton continues to be the Democratic candidate who's most well-liked within her own party, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll, but Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is closing in on her as Democratic voters learn more about him.

Clinton is still viewed as most decisive, most electable and most competent, and Democratic registered voters are more likely to say she represents their positions on the issues that matter to them than say the same of Sanders. But Democrats are now somewhat more likely to say he's honest than say that about Clinton.

Here are some things to know about public opinion on the Democratic candidates from the new AP-GfK poll:



About three-quarters of Democratic registered voters have a favorable view of Clinton; two-thirds say the same of Sanders. That gap comes not because they're more likely to view Sanders than Clinton negatively, but because 16 percent of Democratic registered voters don't feel they know enough him to say.

But the more Democratic voters hear about Sanders, the more they seem to like him. In December, just 54 percent of them held a favorable opinion of Sanders.



Since December, Sanders has gained on other measures, too. Among Democratic voters, 72 percent now think he could win in a general election, up from 51 percent who said so in December. Six in 10 say he's at least somewhat decisive, after half said so in the earlier poll. And 64 percent call him at least somewhat competent, after 55 percent said so in December.

Sanders is also more likely to be viewed as very or somewhat honest than he was in December. Now, 64 percent say so, up from 56 percent. That gives him an edge over Clinton on that measure. She's viewed as honest by 55 percent of Democratic voters. Forty-three percent of Democratic voters say that word describes her only slightly or not at all well.



The poll finds a variety of advantages for Clinton. Nine in 10 Democratic registered voters say she could win a general election, a 16-point advantage over Sanders. She's more likely to be thought of as at least somewhat decisive, by 13 points, and as competent, by 15 points.

Democratic voters are more likely to say that Clinton represents their positions on the issues very or somewhat well than to say the same about Sanders, 73 percent to 63 percent.

Ninety-three percent of Democratic voters say competence is very or extremely important to them in a candidate, while 89 percent say that of honesty and whether a candidate represents their positions on the issues. Eighty-four percent say decisiveness is very important, and 73 percent say so of compassion. Somewhat fewer say being inspiring (63 percent) or likable (57 percent) is that important.



Nonwhite Democrats are more likely than white Democrats to say Clinton is honest and likable, and slightly more likely to describe her as inspiring. They're also somewhat more likely to say she represents their positions on the issues than whites.

White Democrats are slightly more likely than non-whites to say Sanders is decisive, likable and inspiring, and they're more likely to describe him as compassionate and honest.

Democratic women are slightly more likely than men to say Clinton is decisive, inspiring and likable.



Clinton and Sanders are each viewed positively by about 4 in 10 registered voters overall. But while all registered voters are about evenly divided in their opinions of Sanders, more than half have an unfavorable view of Clinton.

Sanders is the only candidate in either party who's viewed as compassionate, honest and likable by at least half of registered voters, giving him a significant advantage over Clinton among all voters on each of those measures. Just 30 percent consider Clinton honest.

Still, 52 percent of registered voters say they would at least consider voting for each Democrat in a general election, putting both of them at least slightly higher than every Republican candidate but Marco Rubio on that measure.

Majorities of registered voters say either Democratic candidate could potentially win a general election, though they're especially likely to say so of Clinton.


The AP-GfK Poll of 1,033 adults, including 389 Democratic or Democratic-leaning registered voters, was conducted online Feb. 11-15, 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 3.4 percentage points, and is plus or minus 5.5 percentage points for Democratic voters.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn't otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.