After a long and tense investigation by the FBI into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server came to an end last week, the Clinton camp seemed to breathe a sigh of relief — they shouldn’t get comfortable, however, as a new poll shows that she is now tied with Donald Trump nationally after having briefly pulled ahead in previous surveys.
Responses given to pollsters by potential voters reflect a striking picture: A general election match up in which both candidates are widely disliked, distrusted, and unsatisfying.
“Overall satisfaction with the choice of candidates is at its lowest point in two decades,” Pew data indicates. “Currently, fewer than half of registered voters in both parties — 43% of Democrats and 40% of Republicans — say they are satisfied with their choices for president.”
For Clinton, these last several weeks have largely been consumed by efforts to unify a party whose deep rifts were brought to the fore by the candidacy of Bernie Sanders.
Sanders, by putting forward an ambitious progressive agenda, exposed a powerful faction of the Democratic Party that is deeply committed to the status quo, and that believes in gradual change rather than radical action.
Throughout the primary process, during which Clinton was challenged in ways that were not anticipated, Sanders called attention to the former secretary of state’s conflicts of interests, including her speeches to Wall Street and her super PACs, which collect large sums of corporate cash to fuel Clinton’s run for the presidency.
Sanders’s successes in the Democratic primary are readily visible in the party’s platform, which reflects Sanders’s calls for a $15 minimum wage and affordable public college in the face of an economy that has increasingly rewarded the wealthiest at the expense of everyone else.
Despite her efforts to make concessions to the Sanders campaign, and despite Sanders’s endorsement earlier this week, Clinton has struggled to appeal to voters loyal to the agenda of the Vermont senator — potential voters who view Clinton as an avatar of a failing political establishment.
The problem for Clinton, the newest polls indicate, is not just that she is failing to win over Sanders supporters. She is failing to make the case that she is trustworthy to a significant majority of Americans. And distrust of Clinton has only grown since the FBI announced that it would not recommend charges against her.
“As Mrs. Clinton prepares to accept the Democratic Party’s nomination at the convention in Philadelphia this month,” reports the New York Times, “she will confront an electorate in which 67 percent of voters say she is not honest and trustworthy. That number is up five percentage points from a CBS News poll conducted last month, before the F.B.I. released its findings.”
Furthermore, the Times notes, “Mrs. Clinton’s six-percentage-point lead over the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald J. Trump, in a CBS News poll last month has evaporated. “
How is this possible? New polls in key battleground states show the race tightening between Donald Trump and... https://t.co/C0SCzRYcA0— Robert Reich (@RBReich) July 13, 2016
Clinton and Trump are now tied at 40 percent. The problem for Clinton is that while Trump is also widely viewed as dishonest and untrustworthy, his ratings on these qualities have, the Times reports, “stayed constant despite increased scrutiny on his business record and falsehoods in his public statements and Twitter messages.”
Clinton’s numbers, on the other hand, continue to worsen. This is sparking worries among Clinton loyalists that she will hobble into a general election match up “a wounded candidate,” in the words of Amy Chozick and Dalia Sussman.
Donald Trump attempted to seize upon the FBI’s decision to not recommend charges against Clinton for her use of a private email server as evidence that “the system is rigged,” but his own flubs largely overshadowed his critiques of Clinton and federal investigators.
It seems, however, that Trump didn’t need to criticize Clinton for her numbers to fall — they seem to be doing so on their own.
“Heading into the two parties’ conventions, the race for President is a dead heat, a change from last month when Hillary Clinton led by six points,” CBS News reports. “Forty percent of registered voters now say they will back Clinton (a dip of three points), while 40 percent will vote for Trump (a bump up of three points). A month ago, Clinton led Trump 43 to 37 percent.”
And, CBS News notes, the number of voters who view Clinton as dishonest reached “the highest percentage this election cycle.”
So while Clinton and Trump are set to battle it out in November, it seems that the only sure losers are the American people, as they are faced with the prospect of voting for two widely distrusted candidates, or voting for a third party candidate, Jill Stein or Gary Johnson.
The morsel of good news for Clinton, however, is that strong disapproval ratings don’t tend to translate into electoral losses.
“No presidential candidate in polling history has been as hated by voters as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are now,” writes the New York Post’s Mary Kay Linge. “But a review of the last eight presidential elections reveals that the most hated candidate in the spring almost always ends up winning in November.”
Nonetheless, the prospects for a significant majority of voters look increasingly grim.
[Photo by Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images]