Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are considered the most likely candidates to run in the 2016 general election. While we can’t count out Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, or John Kasich as viable candidates, many pundits have been speculating on the outcome of the Trump vs. Clinton match-up for months now. The primaries are far from over, and any of the remaining candidates could end up running in the general election, but it might be worth considering how the American People would be impacted by a choice between Trump and Clinton.
Negative Approval Ratings
Hillary Clinton consistently has a negative approval rating. According to TruthDig, Clinton has a 55 percent disapproval rating. Oddly, The Donald has even lower approval ratings.
Donald Trump has been called “wildly unpopular” by the New York Times, claiming he is the least popular candidate to run for president since at least 1984. Coming in second for this dubious honor is Hillary Clinton. The Donald’s approval rating is only about 30 percent. Polls indicate neither candidate is considered trustworthy by a majority of voters. So, how can these two people be winning the primary elections if they are so unpopular?
Comparing Donald Trump to other Republican candidates gives us some insight. According to Gallup, 38 percent of voters had an unfavorable impression of Marco Rubio before he dropped from the race, while only 34 percent saw him in a favorable light. The rest didn’t venture an opinion. Only 29 percent of those polled by Gallup had a favorable opinion of Ted Cruz, while 50 percent viewed him unfavorably. The rest had no opinion. So, most people have an opinion of The Donald, whether positive or negative. The others are not liked significantly more, there are just more people who don’t have an opinion of Cruz or Rubio.
Bernie Sanders and John Kasich are the only two candidates with a positive approval rating. Sanders is +7, while Kasich is +19, but a lot of people don’t have any opinion about Kasich.
Polarization Of Voters
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are in a close race, and the Democratic party is nearly evenly divided. The Democratic party is polarized between Bernie Sanders, with his extreme economic liberalism and slightly more conservative social policies, and Clinton, with her extreme social liberalism and more conservative economic policies. The divide between Clinton supporters and Sanders supporters has led to a lot of infighting and division in the party, even though Hillary and Bernie have remained very civil with each other.
Donald Trump has likewise divided the Republican party. He is not nearly as socially or economically conservative as the candidates GOP donors like to support. His supporters are passionate, but so are his detractors. His campaign rallies are violently protested, and he fears that the convention will be brokered away from him. It also seems irregular that his own party has a movement called “stop Trump.”
Hillary Clinton vs. The Donald, though, could be an even more divisive race. While Democrats are divided on policy, very few actually hate the other candidate. With negative approval ratings on both sides, massive protests against Trump, some very bitter Republican donors in play, and a lot of passionately disappointed Bernie supporters, Clinton vs. Trump could provoke the American people in ways not seen in many decades, if ever.
Many polls indicate that right now Hillary could beat Donald. Two months ago, the opposite was true, but the election isn’t for six months. Polarization that goes beyond the usual party lines could be a significant factor in a match-up between Hillary and Donald. If Hillary Clinton vs. Bernie Sanders caused division in the Democratic party, a race between Donald and Hillary could be exceptionally divisive to the nation, and lead to even more polarization in politics.
Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump could become a very volatile contest. While apart from personality, Trump and Sanders have significant common ground in economic and foreign trade policies, Trump and Clinton have nothing like that. Nearly everything is opposite.
Donald Trump, according to most pundits and pollsters, is disliked by women, people under thirty, and minorities of all kinds. His best ratings come from white men. Also, those with less education tend to like him more than those with a college education. His promises to “Make America Great Again,” stop or slow immigration, and prevent job exportation appeal very significantly to the working class.
Hillary is popular with women and all non-white groups, but disliked by men and especially conservative men. The majority of Democratic voters under 30 preferred Bernie, and at least a third of Bernie supporters have said they won’t vote for Hillary if she wins the nomination.
If Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are the main choices, many voters under 30 may be alienated enough not to vote at all, or they could choose a third party candidate. The religious right and other extreme conservatives may also consider a third party candidate. This election year has already seen an abnormal amount of protests and riots. The political climate is unusually reactionary. The 2016 general election will likely amplify that.
The Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton ballot could further divide and polarize America, in a very passionate political climate.
[Photo by Scott Olson, Spencer Platt/Getty Images]