We have previously discussed the bizarre situation of two candidates (Trump and Clinton) with historic negative polling numbers emerge as the frontrunners for the general election. Six out of ten voters say that they are unwilling to vote for either Trump or Clinton. Now a new poll shows that over half of American voters believe that the primary system is “rigged” and more than two-thirds want a new system for electing their leaders. What is remarkable is how detached the system appears from the voters. The GOP primary is advancing a candidate with high exceptionally negatives for the general election. In the meantime, the public is in open revolt of the “establishment” so the Democratic leadership has lined up to guarantee the selection of the candidate who is the ultimate establishment figure. Now one-fourth of voters are saying that they will stay at home rather than vote for either of the frontrunners.
It is ironic that the GOP race appears the most responsive to voters. While Trump has huge negatives with the general population, he is clearly the anti-establishment candidate. He was able to crush a series of establishment figures and he is correct that the reason is the demand for a radical change in the system. Trump is the face of such change.
Many young people, including many of my students, view the Democratic party as a lock for the establishment this election despite its counter-establishment image from the 60s. While Clinton clearly has support among some core democratic voting groups, the independent and young voters are particularly estranged from her and the party. Many are not likely to show up in November though the Clinton camp is betting that most will ultimately come back into the fold. Trump has already generated more votes than any Republican in history and he believes that he can produce the same record numbers in the general election. If true, the Democratic establishment could ultimately have engineered the one candidate that might elect Donald Trump. The fact is that we simply do not know. While incredibly popular with many GOP and independent voters, Trump is wildly unpopular with many groups in the general public. He has clearly tapped into this movement and the establishment seems in denial. Turnout is down on the Democratic side but the Democrats believe that they can win the “lesser of two evil” voters. As exciting as that uncertainty will be for commentators, the majority of voters are right: we have a system that has become dysfunctional and unresponsive to the majority of citizens.
I have previously written about reforms that we need to make in our system. However, the resistance of the establishment to change has never been more clear during this period of growing anger and unrest. The chilling fact is that these polls appear to have little impact on the parties. The isolation and unhappiness of the majority of the voters in this country seems immaterial.
While this is not a pure democratic system, it is supposed to be a representative democratic system where leaders represent the voters. It is that feeling of being unrepresented that is driving the passions and unpredictability of this election cycle.
What do you think?