Election Imperfections

Captivating yet aggravating, this race has left most Americans whining: “Is it over yet?”

The past year and half has proven to be a political cataclysm full of half-baked policy and punditry, complete with deafening yelling from both sides of the nation’s political stage. After simultaneously captivating and aggravating the American public, with Election Day nearing, some are wondering if either of the major candidates are worthy of their support or votes.

On the Democratic side there’s former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, renowned for the mistake of using of a private email while in public office, mishandling the Benghazi attacks and accepting questionable donations to the Clinton Foundation. On the Republican side, there’s real estate mogul Donald Trump, who lacks political experience, reacts explosively over Twitter and garners the support of white supremacists.

Because of each candidate’s perceived flaws, senior Mike Baldwin, like many, lacks faith in this presidential race. “I think that the candidates are both so terrible that this is a really frustrating election,” he said.

The American electorate is similarly concerned. Findings from a recent Pew Research Center survey revealed widespread disenchantment toward this presidential contest. The majority of voters, 57 percent, said they mainly feel “frustrated” with the campaign, dwarfing feelings of interest, optimism and excitement.

Mirroring this, a survey of University Prep seniors showed that many feel the same. Fifty-five percent, the majority of respondents, said they’re mostly “frustrated” with the race.

History teacher Abigail Hundley believes this is partially because of the unfavorable ways that Clinton and Trump have been portrayed. “Both of [the major candidates] have been driven to increasingly negative positions,” she said.

This opinion is held even by Trump and Clinton supporters. The aforementioned Pew survey showed that 33 percent of Trump supporters are voting for him because he is “not Clinton,” and 32 percent of Clinton supporters are voting for her because she is “not Trump.” Similarly, 57 percent of UPrep senior Clinton supporters state Clinton not being Trump as one of their top reasons for backing her.

Hundley recognizes the insanity of the race. “I don’t know how we got here,” she said.

Specifically, Hundley noted, Trump has introduced some new, and she believes frightening, policies. “Suggestions of policies that are clear violations to the Constitution are disturbing,” she said.

Trump is an unusual candidate to say the least, yet many also dislike Clinton. “In my opinion, the Clinton family is obsessed with power, and they’ve been in power for years now,” Baldwin said.

These issues lead to tepid outlooks even among supporters of the two major party candidates. The same Pew survey also found that, no matter who wins on November 8, few backers of the candidates anticipate feeling “excited.” Only 25 percent of Clinton supporters say they would “feel excited” if she were to win, and just 28 percent of Trump supporters say they would be excited if Trump triumphs. In the UPrep poll, all seniors backing Clinton reported they would mostly feel “relieved” if their candidate won. No seniors polled responded as Trump supporters.

This stems from the fact that many voters aren’t strong supporters of their candidate’s ideas, but feel as though they’re only voting for the lesser evil. “I am particularly dissatisfied with both major candidates,” senior Benjamin Hoover said. “I would only vote for [my preferred candidate] because the other is even worse, not because I think they’re a good candidate.”

His views aren’t unique. This general lack of enthusiasm for the two candidates has led to them holding the lowest approval ratings for major party nominees in recent modern history. The Huffington Post reports that Clinton and Trump are holding average approval ratings at only 41 and 37 percent respectively.

In the statistic-based blog FiveThirtyEight, Harry Enten summarized the candidates’ unpopularity: “No major party nominee before Clinton or Trump has had a double-digit negative net ‘strong favorability’ rating.”

In fact, people have been so obsessed with watching the candidates rip each other apart, they have had barely any time to pay attention to anything else. “It’s almost like a really bad soap opera,” senior Joel Myers said. “One is always poking at the other so the other has to poke back,” he said.  

Hundley observes that this negativity extends to Americans’ conversations about the election. “As someone who really likes to see and listen to civil discourse where actually exchange ideas and preferably learn something from one another, this has been a really disappointing election cycle,” she said.

With all the feelings of exasperation towards this presidential contest, seeing how this election shakes out in November will certainly be interesting, yet evidently exciting to few.

By Beatrice Cappio and Anna Ingrahm