WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 27, 2016) – As the presidential campaign enters its final days, opinions about American democracy and the candidates’ respect for democratic institutions – as well their respect for women, minorities and other groups in society – have emerged as political flashpoints, according to a new national survey by Pew Research Center.
Donald Trump is widely seen as having little or no respect for Muslims, women, Hispanics and blacks. Moreover, 56% of registered voters say that Trump has little or no respect for the “nation’s democratic institutions and traditions,” compared with 43% who say he has a great deal or fair amount of respect for democratic institutions and traditions.
Far more voters think Hillary Clinton respects women, minorities and the nation’s democracy. And nearly twice as many describe Clinton as “well-qualified” than say that about Trump (62% vs. 32%). Yet concerns over Clinton’s honesty persist, and just 35% say that, if elected, she would make a good or great president; even fewer (27%) think Trump would make a good or great president. These views have changed little over the course of the campaign.
The new survey, conducted Oct. 20-25 among 2,583 adults, including 2,120 registered voters, finds broad agreement about the importance of some aspects of democracy, such as fair and open elections. But there are sharp divisions over whether other aspects are very important to maintaining a strong democracy – notably, that losers of elections recognize the legitimacy of the winners and that news organizations are free to criticize politicians.
While sizable majorities of both Clinton and Trump supporters view electoral concessions as at least somewhat important, Clinton backers (83%) are far more likely than Trump supporters (48%) to see this as very important. Trump voters also are far less likely to say that the freedom of the press to criticize political leaders is essential to maintaining a strong democracy. Only about half of Trump supporters (49%) view this as very important, compared with 72% of Clinton supporters.
Both Trump and Clinton voters attach great importance to fair and open elections. But Trump supporters are skeptical that the upcoming election will meet this standard. Just 43% have a great deal or fair amount of confidence the presidential election will be fair and open, compared with 88% of Clinton supporters.
Among the survey’s other key findings:
Majorities say both candidates are ‘hard to like.’ Nearly six-in-ten voters (59%) say Clinton is hard to like, while an even higher share of voters (70%) say this phrase describes Trump. In addition, majorities of voters say each candidate has “poor judgment” (65% say this about Trump, 56% about Clinton).
Most Clinton supporters say they have a ‘hard time’ respecting Trump voters. Nearly six-in-ten Clinton supporters (58%) say they “have a hard time respecting someone who supports Donald Trump for president.” Just 40% say they have “no trouble” respecting someone who backs Trump. Trump supporters are less likely to say they have difficulty respecting Clinton voters. Four-in-ten (40%) say they have a hard time respecting Clinton voters, while 56% say they have no trouble doing so.
GOP voters see a divided party. In the view of most voters – including most Republicans – the GOP will face the election deeply divided. Fully 80% of registered voters say the party is mostly divided in its views on issues and vison for the future, while just 17% say it is mostly united. Seven-in-ten Republican and Republican-leaning voters say the GOP is mostly divided, as do 89% of Democrats.
Trump voters more likely to view Russia as “not much of a problem.” Similar shares of Clinton and Trump supporters view Russia as an adversary (29% of Clinton supporters, 24% of Trump supporters), but Clinton backers are 13 percentage points more likely to say Russia is a serious problem (53% vs. 40%). And while 30% of Trump supporters say Russia is not much of a problem, only 13% of Clinton backers say the same.
Majority says abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Overall, 61% of voters say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 36% say it should be illegal in at least most cases. About eight-in-ten Clinton supporters (82%) say abortion should be mostly legal; a smaller majority of Trump supporters (60%) say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, while 36% think it should be mostly legal.
ACA continues to be divisive. Currently, 45% of voters approve of the 2010 health care law, while 53% disapprove. For more on the health care law, including views on whether Congress should repeal or expand it, see Pew Research Center’s Fact Tank blog.