The FINANCIAL -- Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton continues to have an image advantage over presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump among the general American population. So far this month, 40% of Americans hold a favorable view of Clinton, while 54% have an unfavorable opinion, resulting in a net favorable rating of -14. For Trump, Americans' views are 33% favorable and 60% unfavorable for a net favorable rating of -27.
Overall, Clinton's image has gradually worsened over the course of the campaign since Gallup began tracking the candidates' images 10 months ago, dropping from a -2 net favorable rating last July to -14 this month. Trump's image has also worsened, reaching a low point of -35 net favorable in March, but it improved this month to -27. His most recent seven-day average is also -27.
These data are from Gallup's Daily tracking, aggregated at the monthly level (except for May, which is based on interviewing conducted May 1-22).
Trump More Popular Now Among Republicans
The uptick in Trump's overall image in recent weeks results from the presumptive nominee's popularity increasing among Republicans. With Trump essentially securing the nomination, many who supported other candidates are "coming home to roost," in essence, and now support the probable nominee. Trump lost a little ground among Republicans in February and March, but his current net favorable rating among Republicans (+33) is his highest monthly average yet within his own party. His decidedly negative net favorable rating among Democrats has remained essentially the same over the last three months, near -77, which is worse than it was among that group in 2015 and early 2016.
Clinton's image among Democrats remains more positive than Trump's is among Republicans, but her image -- unlike his -- has not yet recovered from a slow slide downward. Her image among Democrats will likely improve when Bernie Sanders officially drops out of the race or when he acknowledges her as the presumptive nominee -- although that may not occur until late July at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
Clinton's very negative ratings among Republicans are identical to Trump's ratings among Democrats. This reinforces the conclusion that the difference in the overall way the two candidates are viewed is driven by the opinions of their respective partisan groups.
Hillary Clinton, at this point, retains a more positive image than Donald Trump among the general American population, but Trump's image among Republicans has improved, narrowing the image gap with his presumed Democratic challenger. Unlike Trump, Clinton continues to have an active challenger for the nomination, which may be depressing her image among some Democrats. Even still, she continues to retain a more positive image among her partisans than Trump does among his.
All major presidential candidates in recent elections have ended their campaigns with favorable ratings at 46% or higher, with many well into majority territory. A key element of this 2016 election to watch will be the degree to which Clinton and Trump manage to raise their favorable ratings, or if their images remain as negative as they are now going into the fall.
Both candidates will be highly visible at their conventions in July. Those occasions, coupled with their vice presidential selections, will provide the opportunity for a potential shift in their image ratings. The most relevant recent example of this effect is the case of Bill Clinton in 1992. Prior to the Democratic National Convention that year, his favorable rating was as low as 41%; immediately after, it rose to 62%.
Both Trump and Clinton have moved into a campaign stage in which they are actively criticizing one another, with specific references to history and character, and these tactics may affect the way Americans look at each of these candidates going forward.