Clinton's Best Asset, Trump's Biggest Liability: Experience

Clinton's Best Asset, Trump's Biggest Liability: Experience

Clinton's Best Asset, Trump's Biggest Liability: Experience

The FINANCIAL -- Hillary Clinton holds double-digit advantages over Donald Trump in Americans' views of the two candidates' experience to be president, ability to work with both parties in Washington and likability. Trump's greatest relative strengths include being a strong and decisive leader and the ability to stand up to special interests.

These data, collected May 18-22, also find that Clinton has a slight edge in views of the candidates' ability to manage the government effectively and whether they care about the needs of people "like you." Americans are about equally likely to say Clinton and Trump have strong moral character and to say they are honest and trustworthy, though fewer than four in 10 say these apply to either candidate. On the other hand, nearly equivalent majorities of Americans view each candidate as being able to get things done.

More than six in 10 Americans say Clinton has the experience it takes to be president (62%) -- twice as many as say this about Trump (31%). In fact, experience is Clinton's greatest overall strength from among those tested in the poll, and it is Trump's single weakest attribute.

Most adults also believe Clinton can get things done (56%), while about half say she would work well with both parties in Washington (51%) and that she is a strong and decisive leader (51%).

As is true of Clinton, most Americans believe Trump can get things done (58%), and they are more likely to view him than Clinton as a strong and decisive leader (60%) -- the latter being the characteristic Trump scores highest on. And most say Trump is capable of standing up to special interests (52%) -- more so than for Clinton (44%).

The candidates are both viewed as lacking in honesty -- 32% say Clinton displays honesty and trustworthiness, her lowest score on any issue, but no worse than Trump's 33% on this dimension. The two candidates also both score relatively poorly on having strong moral character, being able to bring about the changes needed in the U.S. and caring about people's needs.

Both candidates receive majority positive ratings on getting things done and being strong leaders. Clinton gains a majority rating on experience and working well with both parties, and Trump also gets a majority positive rating on standing up to special interests. Otherwise, less than half of Americans say that any of the other dimensions apply to either candidate.

One in Three Trump Supporters Say Clinton Has Experience It Takes

As would be expected, solid majorities of self-identified Clinton supporters say the dozen characteristics apply to her, but there is a good deal of variation. The strongest majorities say she has the experience necessary to be president (92%) and can get things done (89%). At the other end of the spectrum, a much smaller 61% of those who say they would vote for her over Trump say honesty and trustworthiness apply to her, and 69% give her credit for standing up to special interests.

Few Trump supporters see these characteristics in Clinton -- their lowest ratings for her are her honesty and trustworthiness and her ability to bring about the changes the country needs, at just 6% each.

However, sizable minorities of Trump's supporters are willing to grant that Clinton possesses certain positive qualities, including the necessary experience to be president (34%) and the ability to get things done (25%).

One in Three Clinton Supporters Say Trump Is a Strong, Decisive Leader

Trump's supporters rate him relatively highly on all characteristics, but most widely on being a strong and decisive leader (94%) and the ability to get things done (94%). Trump's supporters are least likely to say he has the experience to be president (61%) or has strong moral character (64%).

Among Clinton's supporters, fewer view Trump as having these characteristics than is true for Trump's supporters regarding Clinton. On half of the characteristics, less than 10% of Clinton's supporters view them as applying to Trump. However, a few qualities strike a sizable minority of her supporters as applying to her GOP opponent.

One in three Clinton supporters say Trump is a strong and decisive leader (33%), while about three in 10 say he has the ability to stand up to special interests (30%) and can get things done (28%).

Bottom Line

The candidates' respective supporters are drawn to Clinton's and Trump's unique résumés and personal qualities, but when it comes to the experience necessary for the presidency, Americans are more likely to say Clinton has that experience. But Trump has advantages of his own in Americans' eyes, such as his leadership and ability to confront special interests, although neither compares with Clinton's 2-to-1 advantage on experience. Americans are just as likely to say Trump can get things done as to say this about Clinton.

Almost as important for Clinton as her edge in experience is Trump's low score on honesty. Only one in three Americans view Clinton as honest, her single biggest liability. But Trump scores no better on this dimension, missing out on an area in which the Republican could have painted a strong contrast with Clinton in the general election contest.

Most broadly, Americans tend to see the two candidates as strong leaders, but ones lacking in honesty and morality.