Survey respondents dub presidential candidates ‘loser,’ ‘robotic,’ ‘weak.’

February 18, 2016

Insults between candidates in the 2016 presidential race have been de rigueur, but it’s not always the loudest insults that stick.

In the field, insults like “loser,” “low-energy,” and “weak” pepper candidates’ stump speeches nearly as often as policy. But the biting tone and sharp tongues often turn from rubber to glue. The people listening frequently attribute the insult flung to the candidate flinging it, recent Reuters/Ipsos polling shows.

For example, billionaire businessman and Republican front-runner Donald Trump has been known to label rivals for the party’s nomination “losers,” especially former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. But where 20 percent of respondents said they would describe Bush as a loser, 38 percent deemed it an appropriate descriptor for Trump himself.S

Still, when Marco Rubio was dubbed “robotic” following a poor showing at a recent Republican debate, 23 percent of those surveyed agreed.

Only 1 percent fewer thought the same tag applied to Hillary Clinton, or 22 percent.

And sometimes persistence works, as evidenced by 32 percent of survey respondents describing Bush as “low-energy”—a charge Trump has stuck with on the campaign trail. Thirty-four percent of respondents also labeled him “weak,” another famous pejorative Trump often uses.

Still, there’s no way of knowing at this point what role insults will play in the campaign.

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