Trump’s favorable-to-unfavorable ratio is the lowest of the major candidates’. His positive rating always ranges between 52 and 44 percent, whether the poll is of national or state voters. His negative rating always ranges between 33 and 46 percent, and is usually in the 38–43 range. Most major Republican candidates are getting positive ratings in the 60s and low 70s, with negative ratings well below 20 percent. Even Jeb Bush has significantly higher positives and lower negatives than Trump. Christie, Graham, and Pataki are typically the only candidates thought of less highly than Trump.
Moreover, Trump receives the highest “would never vote for” ratings among the major candidates. A Quinnipiac national poll taken before the debate, for example, found that 30 percent of Republican-primary voters would never support Trump, the highest number among all the candidates. A late-July Fox national poll similarly found that 33 percent of GOP voters would never support Trump in the primary, a share that only Christie, Pataki, and Graham exceeded.
These data are even more troubling for Trump when we dig deeper. Sharp ideological differences are apparent in Trump’s favorable–unfavorable ratios, in contrast with the voter-preference question. His favorable rating exceeds his unfavorable one by roughly a 3–1 margin among tea partiers and a 2–1 margin among “very conservative” voters. “Somewhat conservatives” tend to split evenly, and moderates dislike him by a 55–40 percent margin.
\Why is this problematic for Trump? Tea partiers and “very conservative” voters are a large minority, but a minority nonetheless. In primary states, exit polls show that moderates tend to constitute 30–40 percent of the total vote outside the Deep South, rising to 40–50 percent in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. “Somewhat conservatives” tend to constitute 33–40 percent of Republican-primary voters in most states. Trump’s poor showing among these groups bodes ill for his ability to win outside the South and in midwestern caucus states once the early primaries have winnowed the candidates.