Nearly seven-in-10 registered voters say they couldn’t see themselves supporting Republican frontrunner Donald Trump; 61 percent say they couldn’t back fellow Republican Ted Cruz; and 58 percent couldn’t see themselves voting for Democratic favorite Hillary Clinton.
What’s more, 65 percent of all voters have a negative view of Trump – making him the most unpopular major presidential candidate in the history of the NBC/WSJ poll. Fifty-six percent have an unfavorable view of Clinton, which is up five points from last month. And almost half of voters view Cruz in a negative light.
To top it off, just 19 percent of all respondents give Clinton high marks for being honest and trustworthy, while only 12 percent give Trump high scores for having the right temperament.
“The Republicans have a party problem, and the Democrats have a candidate problem,” says Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who conducted this survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff and his firm Public Opinion Strategies.
Adds Democratic pollster Fred Yang of Hart Research Associates, “At some point, when the confetti is on the floor and the lights are turned out, the winner needs to govern. And the outlook for the next president, whoever he or she will turn out to be, looks grim.”
In this sea of negative sentiments about the 2016 candidates, one major politician has benefited: President Barack Obama.
His overall job-approval rating stands at 49 percent, which is unchanged from last month. But 50 percent now approve of his handling of the economy – the highest percentage on this question since his first months in office in Sept. 2009.
That said, just 41 percent approve of Obama’s handling of foreign policy.
“The president seems to be the beneficiary of the behavior of the candidates,” says Yang, the Democratic pollster.
The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted April 10-14 among 1,000 registered voters (including more than half reached by cell phone), which has an overall margin of error of plus-minus 3.1 percentage points.
Mark Murray is a senior political editor at NBC News.