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Monmouth University Polling Institute


2016 Brought Out Worst in People

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Seven percent report ending friendship over presidential race

West Long Branch, NJ  - More than 2-in-3 voters say that this year's presidential race has brought out the worst in people and most disapprove of the campaign's harsh rhetoric.  The latest Monmouth University Poll  also finds that "dissatisfaction" rather than "anger" is the word that better characterizes voters' feelings about the federal government.  Poll results also show that opinion on terrorism has not changed much even after the recent bombings in New York and New Jersey.

Fully 70% of American voters say that this year's presidential campaign has brought out the worst in people.  Only 4% say it has brought out the best in people.  Another 5% say it has done a little of both and 20% say it has done neither.  Democrats (78%), Republicans (65%), and independents (66%) agree that the 2016 campaign has brought out the worst in people.

Only 30% of voters say that the harsh language used in politics today is justified given the current state of the country.  Nearly 2-in-3 (65%) say it is unjustified.  These results have changed little since August.  There are some differences in opinion, though, depending on which candidate these voters support.  Nearly half of Trump voters (47%) say that the campaign's harsh language is justified, compared to only 17% of Clinton voters and 21% of voters who are either undecided or are supporting a third party candidate.

"Half of Trump supporters seem to be saying let the expletives fly, but many voters blame both sides equally for the negative tone of this year's campaign," said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

When asked who tends to engage in harsh language more, half of voters (50%) put the blame equally on both Trump and Clinton supporters.  However, 37% say more of this language is coming from the Trump camp and just 11% say the Clinton camp is more to blame.  Not surprisingly, most Clinton backers (68%) put the blame on the Trump crowd with 28% blaming both sides equally.  Trump backers, though, are more likely to blame both candidates equally (67%) rather than point the finger at Clinton supporters (23%).

The Monmouth University Poll  also finds that 7% of voters report having lost or ended a friendship because of this year's presidential race.  This includes 9% of Clinton supporters, 6% of Trump backers, and 3% of other voters.  This is not that unusual though - 7% of voters say they have lost friendships over political campaigns in the past.

Despite the verbal grenades being thrown on TV and social media, the overwhelming sentiment about the nation's politics is one of disappointment rather than rage.  While 20% say they are "angry" with Washington, about two-thirds (66%) say "dissatisfied" is a better description of how they feel.  Of course, this means not much more than 1-in-10 voters have a positive feeling toward Washington, including being "satisfied" (9%) or "happy" (3%).  This general pattern holds regardless of partisan identification.

Within this context of negativity, there is some good news for Barack Obama, although the same can't be said for Congress.  Pres. Obama's job rating, which improved in August, has held fairly steady since then at a positive 53% approve and 43% disapprove.  Voters' rating of Congress has also held steady, but that is not such a good thing given that the result is 15% approve and 77% disapprove.


Just 34% of voters feel the U.S. government is doing enough to prevent a future attack on American soil.  Most (57%) say it is not doing enough.  This represents a slight improvement from June, when 29% said the government was doing enough and 64% said it was not.  The poll was taken after a recent spate of domestic terrorist attacks, including bombings in the New York area and stabbing and shooting sprees elsewhere that are being investigated for potential links to terrorism.

Most voters say that homegrown terrorists pose a bigger threat to America (53%) than do terrorists from overseas who infiltrate the country (32%).  Very few voters support a blanket ban on immigration from countries with a history of terrorism against the west (32%) or a ban on all Muslims entering the U.S. (17%).  All these results are basically unchanged from the summer.

The Monmouth University Poll  was conducted by telephone from September 22 to 25, 2016 with 802 registered voters in the United States.  The results in this release have a margin of error of +  3.5 percent.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.


QUESTIONS AND RESULTS                                                               

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)         

[ Q1-15 previously released. ]


Turning to other national issues:

16.    Do you approve or disapprove of the job Barack Obama is doing as president?


53%     Approve

43%     Disapprove

  4%     (VOL) No opinion


17.    Do you approve or disapprove of the job the U.S. Congress is doing?


15%     Approve

77%     Disapprove

  8%     (VOL) No opinion


18.    Which of the following words best describes how you feel about Washington - angry, dissatisfied, satisfied, or happy?


20%     Angry

66%     Dissatisfied

  9%     Satisfied

  3%     Happy

  2%     (VOL) Don't know


19.    Has this year's presidential campaign brought out the best in people, brought out the worst in people, or has it done neither?


  4%     Brought out the best

70%     Brought out the worst

20%     Neither

  5%     (VOL) Both

  1%     (VOL) Don't know


20.    Do you feel that the harsh language used in politics today is justified or unjustified given the current state of the country?


30%     Justified

65%     Unjustified

  1%     (VOL) Language is not harsh

  4%     (VOL) Don't know


21.    And do you think this harsh language tends to come more from supporters of Donald Trump, more from supporters of Hillary Clinton, or from supporters of both equally?


37%     More from Trump supporters

11%     More from Clinton supporters

50%     From supporters of both equally

  0%     (VOL) Do not feel any rhetoric is harsh

  2%     (VOL) Don't know


22.    Have you lost or ended any friendships because of this year's presidential campaign, or has this not happened?


  7%     Yes, did lose/end friendship

93%     No, has not happened

  0%     (VOL) Don't know


23.    Did you ever lose or end any friendships because of a political campaign in prior years, or has this never happened before?


  7%     Yes, did lose/end friendship

93%     No, has not happened

  0%     (VOL) Don't know


I'd like to ask a few questions on another topic…

24.    Do you think the U.S. government is doing enough or not doing enough to prevent a future terrorist attack on American soil?


34%     Doing enough

57%     Not doing enough

  0%     (VOL) Doing too much

  8%     (VOL) Don't know


25.    Which do you think poses a bigger threat of future attacks on U.S. soil - terrorists from overseas who infiltrate the country or U.S. citizens who become radicalized? [ OPTIONS WERE ROTATED ]


32%     Terrorists from overseas

53%     Radicalized U.S. citizens

12%     (VOL) Both equally

  3%     (VOL) Don't know



26.    Do you support or oppose banning all Muslims from entering the U.S.?


17%     Support

74%     Oppose

  5%     (VOL) Depends

  3%     (VOL) Don't know



27.    Do you support or oppose a blanket ban on the immigration of any person who lives in a country where there has been a history of terrorism against the west?


32%     Support

60%     Oppose

  3%     (VOL) Depends

  4%     (VOL) Don't know



The Monmouth University Poll  was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from September 22 to 25, 2016 with a national random sample of 802 registered voters.  Interviews were conducted by a live caller in English, including 402 drawn from a list of registered voters (201 landline / 201 cell phone) and 400 using random digit dial (200 landline / 200 cell phone). Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. The final sample is weighted for age, gender, race and partisanship based on voter list and U.S. Census information.  Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field), Aristotle (voter list sample), and SSI (RDD sample).  For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design).  Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below).  In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and results by key demographic groups.  

Download this Poll Report with all tables

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Monmouth University Poll

West Long Branch, NJ 07764
Follow on Twitter: @MonmouthPoll

Patrick Murray

732-263-5858 (office)
Follow on Twitter: @PollsterPatrick

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