A new poll captures just how dysfunctional our elections have become under the duopoly exercised by the two parties. Over half of the public say that they cannot support Trump, Cruz, or Clinton in the general election. Indeed, the two frontrunners, Trump and Clinton, have the highest negatives in their respective parties. The system has produced frontrunners that 6 out of 10 voters say they cannot support. If that is not an indictment of our current system, I am not sure what it takes to push toward reforms.
Sixty-eight percent said they cannot support Donald Trump, according to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz generates opposition at the level of 61 percent. Now over on the democratic side, Clinton is equally radioactive with many voters with 58 percent saying that they cannot support her. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (at 48 percent) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (at 47 percent) seem positively popular in comparison.
The poll captures why the public is so dissatisfied with the political system. The system has generated two frontrunners with record levels of opposition for the general and states like New York bar independents from even voting in the primary. Thus, independents (who are key to the victory in November) are barred from voting — a disadvantage for candidates like Sanders who overwhelmingly wins independents over Clinton.
Once again, the two parties appear poised to win the “lesser of two evils” contest by trashing the other candidate rather than advancing a candidate that truly resonates with a broad majority of Americans.
Ironically, both Kasich and Sanders do better against the opposing frontrunners in the general election. Indeed, where Clinton would defeat Cruz by just 2 points according to the poll, Sanders would defeat him by 12 points.
I am less interested in the merits of these candidates for the purposes of this story as I am the counterintuitive position of our modern elections. The least popular candidates are most likely to prevail in this bizarre process. While some may be satisfied with this process, most Americans are clearly not happy with the choices. Yet, the view of the majority seem entirely irrelevant to this supposedly democratic process. In addition to the reforms that I proposed earlier, one obvious way to avoid such a disconnect with the public is to change rules like those in New York barring independent voters from primary choices. One would think that parties would want to advance candidates with broader support into the general. However, barring the rising number of independent voters is a way to protect incumbents and the party establishment. The result is this shocking poll.