Our distaste for both apparent nominees is THE story of the 2016 election

We’ve known this, and the story The Washington Post ran over the weekend just reiterated what we knew.

But it’s the one thing that sums up the way our presidential election process has failed us more clearly than any other, so it bears repeating: Never in our history, to the extent it has been measured, have the two parties nominated two people as unpopular as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

It makes you wonder what Budweiser thinks they are celebrating by calling their beer “America” through the election season. What do they think this is, 2008?

As the story says,

The coming presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump begins in a virtual dead heat, a competition between two candidates viewed unfavorably by a majority of the current electorate and with voters motivated as much by whom they don’t like as by whom they do, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Never in the history of the Post-ABC poll have the two major party nominees been viewed as harshly as Clinton and Trump.

Nearly 6 in 10 registered voters say they have negative impressions of both major candidates. Overall, Clinton’s net negative rating among registered voters is minus-16, while Trump’s is
minus-17, though Trump’s numbers have improved since March. Among all adults, Trump’s net negatives are significantly higher than those of Clinton….

If this is what this two-party system produces, we really need to have a long talk about reforming the system, don’t you think?

I hope the Post doesn't mind my sharing this image of their graphic. If they do, I'll take it down. In the meantime, I urge you to go their site, read their stories, subscribe and patronize their advertisers...

I hope the Post doesn’t mind my sharing this image of their graphic. If they do, I’ll take it down. In the meantime, I urge you to click on the image and go their site, read their stories, subscribe, and patronize their advertisers…

22 thoughts on “Our distaste for both apparent nominees is THE story of the 2016 election

  1. Doug Ross

    What I love is that a month ago, the Republican Party was headed to certain disaster and a brokered convention. Since then, Trump has had his best month on the campaign yet. He’s trying to mend fences where it helps him. He’s moved onto general election mode. He deflected a hit piece by the NY Times on his supposed mistreatment of women without breaking a sweat.

    Now Hillary and her loathsome status quo surrogates are trying everything possible to eliminate Bernie. Full Clinton attack mode with her hitmen doing and saying all the same things that mainstream Republicans were saying and doing three months ago. The difference is Trump kept winning states while Hillary is staggering to the finish line with 500+ superdelegates riding her back and looking around for an exit strategy. Imagine a Bernie win in California in a couple weeks. It can happen. Hillary has already refused to debate Sanders there and will be portrayed as running scared. The momentum is all Bernie’s. Why SHOULD he quit? He leads Trump by a much wider margin than Hillary — and isn’t THAT the litmus test you used, Brad, for backing Kasich?

    This is not a Sanders/Trump election. It is a “We’re sick and tired of ALL politicians” election. I’m loving it… though I will be voting for the most sane candidate: Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party. The goal is to get Johnson on the stage for the debates. He needs to get to 15% in the polls to do that. He’s already at double digits in some polls.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      “What I love is that a month ago, the Republican Party was headed to certain disaster and a brokered convention.”

      Um, a brokered convention wasn’t “certain disaster.” That was the party’s last chance to save itself.

      Instead, the “certain disaster” is actually happening. Trump is unopposed for the nomination.

      I’m not surprised you’re loving this horrible thing that is happening to our country. That’s what I expect from you, with your nihilistic streak. That doesn’t make it less horrible.

      Our country is in serious, serious trouble. Politically, the worst I’ve ever seen.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Oh, and Kasich’s ability to beat Hillary wasn’t MY reason for backing him. It was the reason why I thought Republicans, who cared deeply about beating her, should back him.

        I was for him because he was the best candidate for president still running at the time. That’s something that does not apply to Bernie.

      2. Doug Ross

        It’s not nihilism when you want to see a broken system replaced. The system is broken beyond repair. I am seeking something better but I know it will take a radical change to achieve it.

        Anyway, your definition of nihilism doesn’t appear to match any generally accepted definition I can find. Nilhilism: the rejection of all religious and moral principles, often in the belief that life is meaningless. The belief that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value.

        That doesn’t describe me at all. I am religious, I believe in strong ethics and morals, AND I believe life is very meaningful. That’s why I care so much when we allow the government that we have to be full of corrupt, immoral people who waste other people’s money.

        Anarchist? Maybe a little bit. Non-conformist? Guilty. Independent? Absolutely. But not ever a nihilist.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          You embrace negation. You yearn for Doomsday scenarios. You want to see all come crashing down around you, and laugh as the rest of us cry out in despair as everything we cared about comes to naught.

          That, to me, is nihilism.

          1. Doug Ross

            I don’t ever embrace negation. I am for positive things: hard work, charitable behavior by individuals, efficiency, stewardship, opportunity… I want better. That’s not nihilism. I want the cancer obliterated, not allowed to metastasize.

            1. Doug Ross

              You, on the other hand, want to turn over control of every aspect of your (and my) life to the government. Freedom offends you. Freedom of thought, freedom of action – anything that goes outside the control of the community standards and hierarchies – irritates you.

      3. Doug Ross

        If Trump wins (and that possibility increases every day), we won’t see the end of the Republican Party. It will be in a transition leaving behind (hopefully) phonies like Lindsey Graham. In the end it will still be mostly white, mostly upper or middle class, mostly war mongers, mostly big business supporters.

      4. Doug Ross

        A brokered convention in which Trump did not come out as the nominee would have killed the Republican Party. The current path will see Trump bending some to the party and the party trying to figure out how to work with him.

        Meanwhile, what happens to the Democratic Party if Sanders wins California and shows up at the convention with wins in more than 20 states and Hillary clinging to insider superdelegates to try and hang on? That scenario could propel Sanders into a third party run taking 30% of the party with him.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Yes, he does seem to be enough of a egomaniac to do something like that.

          But back to your first point — the only point of a brokered convention would have been to emerge with someone other than Trump. Otherwise, you might as well have him win on the first ballot, and save all the time and energy.

          A Republican Party that comes to terms with Donald Trump isn’t really the Republican Party anymore. And the more Republicans who realize that, the better.

          1. Bryan Caskey

            “A Republican Party that comes to terms with Donald Trump isn’t really the Republican Party anymore.”


          2. Doug Ross

            The reality is that Trump was at his lowest point in the view of the party six weeks ago. Everything since then has been tiny steps toward reconciliation and focusing on beating Hillary. Republicans can get “on message” much better than Democrats can. And I won’t ever lose sight of the fact that Trump made his name with a book called “The Art of The Deal”. He is a consummate deal maker… he will shift, he will fight, he will lie, he will read the tea leaves and adjust accordingly. And the best thing for him is that if ends up facing Hillary, he’s got an opponent with so much baggage that he’ll have endless opportunities to use his methods to take her down. He never could have beaten Obama or Biden. But Hillary is damaged goods with a boat anchor named Bill Clinton and a multi million dollar bank account that negates her attempts to be fightin’ for the little people.

            The reality is that the party faithful will eventually determine that it would be better to try and work with Trump than fight Hillary for four or eight years. Sure, the old guard doesn’t like him. Who cares?

  2. David Carlton

    Actually, I think the “real” story here is that this is the story the media love, because they can do what they always want to do–treat the candidates as tweedledum and tweedledee, so that they can play their usual “opinions on shape of Earth differ by party” game. It’s basically part of the process of “normalizing” Trump; making the two candidates equivalent to each other. But let me ask you, Brad–is Hillary Clinton really just as bad as Donald Trump? We know that equivalency is your default position in all things political, but do you really regard them as equivalent? Yes, she’s far from a perfect candidate–but her policy chops are first-rate, and as Jill Abramson (who covered her for a generation with the NYT, which was not gentle with her) recently concluded, notwithstanding all the mud thrown at her over the years, she’s “fundamentally honest and trustworthy.” Politifact considers her by far the most truthful of the candidates in this cycle. She’s not a great personality, and those who think that we need a president we can feel comfortable having a beer with (W!?! How did *that* work out?) are never going to like her (We get an especially tiresome example of that tired trope from David Brooks in today’s NYT). And basically most political reporters judge candidates on how well they schmooze with *them*; that’s why John McCain was far more popular with reporters than he was with actual voters. Needless to say, if you’ve had to deal with what Hillary has had to deal with (and without Bill’s happy-warrior resilience), she’s going to be guarded with the media, and the media don’t like that. Of course, sophisticated right-wing media types long ago learned how to exploit that coolness with ginned-up rumors like the phony Vince Foster murder allegations and the whole silly business with the e-mails, knowing that they can count on the political media to channel that to their readership. Those readers, in turn, figure that where there’s smoke there must be fire, when there’s really just a smoke machine.

    Or is it that you don’t think the question above is relevant? Do you really think that for a party to nominate a candidate that’s (currently) widely disliked is a sign of failed democracy? Note that about 45 percent of the electorate can be counted on to regard her as the Antichrist simply because of her party label, and a lot of the others are being whipped up by the Sanders campaign to regard her as a conscious agent of the One Percent Conspiracy. In fact, not too long ago she was enjoying really strong favorability ratings; as Brooks points out today, she was in the mid-60s as Secretary of State, and at 50 per cent as late as February. Note, too, that she’s gotten more votes than any other candidate, Republican or Democrat, this cycle, so she seems to be doing something right. And most of those Sanders people will wind up in her corner just as Lindsey Graham seems to be slinking into Trump’s.

    So why does she have such low ratings? I’d say it’s because there are lots of people with an interest in cutting her down to Trump’s size.

    1. Doug Ross

      People generally don’t like Trump because of what he says. People generally don’t like Hillary because of what she did. Easier to change the words than the history.

      I look at it this way: Hillary Clinton, a multi millionaire who hasn’t driven a car in decades and who attacked the credibility of the numerous women who claimed to be sexually harassed or assaulted by her huband, wants to be the voice of the working man, the poor, and of women in general. There’s a disconnect there that some Democrats just will not accept. She will lose not because of emails but because of Bill and her bank account.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      “But let me ask you, Brad–is Hillary Clinton really just as bad as Donald Trump?”

      Of course not. She is a sane, qualified candidate. Trump is absolutely not.

      Have you forgotten how strenuously I’ve tried to make the point here, over and over, that we must not stand for a moment to allow Trump to be normalized, which is what the parties and media will try to do from now until November. (Yes, BOTH parties. With Democrats, it takes the form of alleging that Trump is typical of Republicans, which he is not. Every time Democrats do that, they make opposition to Trump seem just the usual partisan game, and justify Republicans in defending him.)

      I have said it over and over — anyone capable of discrimination must remind everyone around him or her that Trump is a nightmare, and that it really doesn’t matter that Hillary Clinton isn’t lovable… and she isn’t… we have no choice in this election, unless some viable third candidate comes out of nowhere.

      Speaking of which — don’t you think you’re being disingenuous when you say “Note that about 45 percent of the electorate can be counted on to regard her as the Antichrist simply because of her party label?” You know and I know that she is the one Democrat they despise the most, which underlines the fact that it’s unfortunate that someone more likable (such as my man Joe) didn’t run.

      Her husband wasn’t disliked as much. Nor was Obama, before the GOP spent the last eight years whipping themselves up over him.

      You’re right about the media liking McCain and why. But it’s not about “schmoozing;” it’s about being open and accessible and transparent. It’s about NOT being Nixon in 1968 and practically every major candidate since, holding the press at arm’s length.

      And yeah, Hillary is very Nixonian. That’s not a party thing; it’s a personality thing.

      You’re also right about her “policy chops.” I’m particularly comfortable with her on foreign affairs — because face it, she’s as much of a neocon as the Democrats have these days.

      Whereas Trump is a nightmare, who knows nothing about policy and doesn’t care. I mean, just take any issue. For instance, if there were nothing else wrong with him at all, his expressed plan to “restructure” the full faith and credit of the United States should absolutely disqualify him. Even I know that’s crazy, and I’ve spent my life trying not to learn about anything having to do with money.

      There’s no comparison between the two. But surely you agree that the country would be better off right now if the Democrats had come up with someone a little more likable…

      1. David Carlton

        “Have you forgotten how strenuously I’ve tried to make the point here, over and over, that we must not stand for a moment to allow Trump to be normalized, which is what the parties and media will try to do from now until November. (Yes, BOTH parties. With Democrats, it takes the form of alleging that Trump is typical of Republicans, which he is not. Every time Democrats do that, they make opposition to Trump seem just the usual partisan game, and justify Republicans in defending him.)”

        Of course I’ve noticed–we’re obviously on the same page there. But sorry; Trump is the nominee of the Republican Party because Republicans chose him–and those who didn’t are falling in line behind him. How pointing that out “normalizes” him only makes sense if you keep insisting that the GOP is a normal political party in the American sense. It isn’t any more; that’s the point people like Norman Ornstein have been making. It’s a party that’s turned into something that I’ve frankly seen coming since well before I moved to Nashville, when I still lived in Columbia in the early 1980s. At that time I recall telling Henry Eichel, who I’m sure you know, that politics in this state was becoming increasingly ethnocultural, and that I found this scary. That trend has proceeded, and is now becoming nationalized. Even those Republicans who find this appalling have no defense against it, because that would require going against their base. This is not the Democrats’ fault–and if we point it out, it does not mean that we’re making this a “partisan issue.” It simply means we’re telling the truth.

        And, no–I don’t think I’m being disingenuous about my 45 percent remark. We see the same with Obama (Actually, I was tempted to throw in that a lot of opposition to Hillary is in fact opposition to Obama; that’s basically what happened in Eastern Kentucky). TBS, she has a lot of baggage from her long public life–but any other Democrat would find himself just as much demonized (see Kerry, John. Or, as you yourself point out, Obama, Barack. Or for that matter Clinton, Bill. You know–the guy who was impeached?). We’re simply a sharply divided country, and there’s a massive media machine devoted to making *any* Democrat out to be the embodiment of evil. It would happen to Joe Biden, and it would certainly happen to Bernie Sanders if they took him seriously.

        Also–what you call “open and accessible and transparent” I call schmoozing. It’s an inveterate weakness of reporters, to value those who feed them copy. I remember a reporter here at the Tennessean who once wrote a column defending Jerry Tarkanian, who, he assured us, wasn’t really a jerk, because he once gave the guy a really good interview!

        Yes, I agree that it would have been better if we’d come up with somebody more “likable.” But my point is that, for a candidate who’s inevitably remote from most voters, “likability” is very much a product of media manipulation. We’re both Harry Potter fans, right? One of the major subthemes in Harry Potter is how poor Harry, a celebrity long before he even knew it, was constantly having his image manipulated by the Rita Skeeters of the Wizarding World. I happen to like Hillary a lot; she cares about the same things I care about, and she’s a better Christian than all those candidates who are loud about it. But her image is being manipulated by people who dislike her for reasons having little to do with her actual merits

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          All of that said, I hope you won’t mind that I wish the Democratic nominee were BILL Clinton instead of Hillary, with all his baggage. Or the Obama of 2008. Or Jimmy Carter. Or LBJ, in spite of the way all the liberals turned against him (except Hillary — one thing I like about her is that she sticks up for LBJ).

          Kerry would be the last one I would pick, because he has a huge likability problem, too. That’s based partly on his public persona and partly on having met him and had an extended conversation with him. (He was the opposite of Howard Dean, whom I met with on the same day and was an eminently approachable, personable guy — a schmoozer, if you will.)

          But… all of that said… Kerry might be better under the circumstances because whatever baggage he has, he has less of it than Hillary.

          Bottom line, all that matters is that Trump must lose. I wouldn’t give two cents to influence whether the president is a Democrat or a Republican. But Trump must be stopped. And my evaluation of the Democratic nominee will be based largely on the extent to which she (or he, if something wild that we can’t predict happened) is able to accomplish that goal.

  3. Mark Stewart

    Hillary has had low ratings since she tried to inject herself into the nation’s governance in 1996.

    Why anyone would expect this to be different this go around is what confuses me – regardless of who Hillary’s competitor is this time.

    The problem this election cycle is not that we have one or more bad candidates; the real issue is that we have bad candidates across the board. Forget palatable to one faction or another; the thing we must grapple with is none of the options is fit to serve as the President of the United States.

    That’s a pretty damning indictment of the two parties – both of them.

    1. Doug Ross

      Here’s Gary Johnson, Libertarian candidate, on the issues. Don’t we all owe it to ourselves to at least become informed about the alternatives. Spend five minutes, read what he believes, and if you disagree with too many of his positions, forget him. But to not even investigate the options is tacitly supporting the current system.



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