Dear God When Will It Be Over Please Make It Stop
Repost of an article by Steve Five, published on Medium on April 27th, 2016.
After last night’s sweeping wins by Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, it appears even more likely that the two will become their respective party’s nominees. But according to multiple different polls and recent data, these are the shittiest candidates in recorded history and this election will be a total mess.
A recent CBS poll has Clinton at 52% unfavorable rating, with Trump at 57% unfavorable. These are the lowest favorability ratings of presumptive nominees since CBS began polling, and other polls show similar findings. Clinton’s shittiness has been seen as a major problem for the Democratic party, while the only consolation to the Democrats is that Donald Trump is statistically shittier, to the point that he is potentially starting a civil war within the Republican party. If either of these two are elected, they will be the least favored nominee to become president in the history of polling.
Meanwhile, the candidates with the highest favorability ratings in their respective parties — Bernie Sanders and John Kasich — are lagging dangerously behind or have statistically impossible odds of winning their nomination.
Why is it a problem? Why do the two candidates with the highest favorability ratings end up in the dust?
One can blame the media, the party system, or the culture. Half of Americans even think the nominating system itself is rigged. In the ad-revenue driven media, data shows that Trump has consistently received more coverage than any other candidate and spent less on advertising because of it. Trump’s incendiary outbursts and wild-card status guarantee ratings, and thus, coverage ad nauseum. This coverage created an unobstructed platform that a seasoned and well-groomed Reality TV star could dig his heels into while testing populist rhetoric, and winning because of it. On the Dem side, Clinton is a deeply-entrenched party leader with ties that span to virtually every corner of the party, while the Democractic National Committee’s stringent and arcane rules kept a stranglehold on the system that favored Clinton, who from the outset has been considered the presumptive nominee. Meanwhile, high profile party leaders have been bullied for opposing Clinton.
Then there’s the culture itself. While Trump’s rise in popularity is seen as due to angry white poor Reagan Democrat and Independent voters, the Democratic party is split along one very large line — the Millennial vote and the Boomer vote — and that gap can be seen as a difference between a certain 90’s Clintonian Neoliberalism and a New Deal Socialistic progressivism. Add to that Clinton’s long-standing visibility and the nature of closed primaries, and it makes sense the Clinton name is coming out on top.
If Clinton and Trump win their party nominations, we’re in for six months of peak shittiness. Trump saving $2 Billion on ad revenue means he can outspend a cash-strapped Clinton after the primaries, and his shitty rhetoric and fistfuls of money will force a hawkish Clinton to at turns go tough on him and differentiate herself with a market-tested party unification approach.
A lot will happen before November. The question is, will voters even care? The idea that anything resembling party unity will appear before November seems obtuse. If anything, there’s a chance that younger voters will feel disenfranchised en masse, and Sanders supporters themselves have four options: vote for Hillary, don’t vote, write Bernie in, or vote Green/other. Five if you count voting for Trump. Republicans have the handicap of historically lower numbers than Democrats, but their numbers have been rising this election cycle, which is par for the course after a two-term opposition party incumbent. The Republican distaste for Hillary is strong and ever-present, but it is unclear if that distaste is strong enough to vote for a candidate like Trump, who many party insiders believe isn’t a real Republican. With independent voters now outnumbering both Democrats and Republicans, the data and exit polling in the aftermath of November’s general election will be a mess of crossed party lines, questionable or apathetic voter turnout in certain demographics, and weird numbers of write-ins and third party votes. Everything will be a mess if these two are the nominees.
One thing is certain, if Clinton and Trump become their party’s nominees, it will be a race to the bottom. With Trump’s schoolyard rhetoric and Clinton’s distrustfulness, a heated general election fight will turn off an already election-fatigued American populace. According to the data, no matter who wins, a majority of Americans will lose.