With both conventions over, the candidates can start chancing their hands ahead of their final throw of the dice to decide the rest of their careers in the US elections. For whoever wins office this November, whether it’s the first ever woman or the oldest president to ever be inaugurated, history will be made for all the wrong reasons. Hillary Clinton or Trump? A nightmare most Americans would struggle to concoct. The two candidates promise an unrelenting slugfest which could not come at a worse time for the dilapidated political system.
Having led briefly for the first time, Donald Trump now trails once again in the polls, 52% to 43%, following Clinton’s big post-convention bounce. A brief look at the party favorability polls, however, highlights the greatest challenge to both nominees – and it lies a lot closer to home. Clinton is polling at 71% favourability amongst the Democrats and Donald Trump at 64% in the GOP. Looking back to Obama and McCain in 2008, 87% and 88% respectively, the comparison is stark. Never before have both nominees been so unpopular within their own party, really underpinning the story of this fascinating yet farcical election.
“Hillary Clinton must become the next President of the United States” – while Bernie Sanders’ ringing endorsement at the Convention last week may have shown his support for her, the chorus of boos and fracas following that statement shows the same cannot be said of his supporters. Bernie’s endeavour to support the challenges most appealing to young voters: free education and women equality amongst others led to the huge following of his “political revolution,” many of whom now feel betrayed following the endorsement of Clinton. With the young voters costing her the 2008 Democratic nomination to the incumbent Obama, Clinton faces a tough few months winning that demographic. The good news for her is Trump’s unpopularity amongst the same demographic, a position accentuated by the First Lady’s speech at the convention. The euphoric response to Mrs Obama’s endorsement will come as a huge relief to Clinton, whose calm and confident guise had been wavering.
“The GOP, in putting Trump at the top of the ticket, is endorsing a brand of populism rooted in ignorance, prejudice, fear and isolationism” – George Bush’s Press Secretary highlighted the damage Donald Trump has done to a usually partisan GOP. Disunity, scepticism and dissension are but a few adjectives flying around the Republicans towards their nominee, echoed by senior officials such as John McCain, Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney. Yet he still led the polls briefly. All things considered, this is a remarkable achievement for someone who’s loathed by so many both in and out of his party. Everyone is aware of the issues he has caused. Whether he backs down when things get a little more serious only time will tell – but before he tries to unite America, he must first unite his ‘friends’.
The Frank Underwood Model
One could be forgiven for drawing comparisons between the ongoing presidential slugfest and the television drama House of Cards. Hillary Clinton’s email fiasco and Donald Trump’s endorsement by the KKK align closely to the corrupt actions of incumbent Frank Underwood. However, the scandals go deeper. Donald Trump has been labelled a racist for his policies to ‘build a wall’ on the Mexican border and his refusal to renounce the endorsement of the KKK chief, actions which could finally prove too much for voters in their decision on who should occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Governor Romney stated after the 2012 election “The biggest mistake I made was not focussing on minority voters” – a demographic Mr Trump has alienated with his comments. His advocacy to lower Mexican immigration is misplaced. In an election which could very well be decided by the swing of migrant voters, this is a dangerous stance to take.
The recent clash with the Khan family over the tragic death of their son reminds of the excoriating words which cost Senator Joe McCarthy his career in 1954. McCarthy had an aura of immunity as he smeared ‘Communist Sympathies’, an immunity Trump has basked in throughout the campaign so far with his support seeming to grow and grow with every outlandish comment. However, Mr Trump may well have attacked the irreproachable, belittling the idea of the making the ultimate sacrifice fighting for your country – doing so in front of the highly patriotic American society. The impenitent responses from Trump further the estrangement between him the American public – has he now dug one hole too many?
If Donald Trump wins, loosening gun control, women’s equality, gay rights and immigration issues arise. If Hillary wins, military reduction, higher taxes and ethical doubts do. The outcome of this election is anyone’s bet, but Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, summed up the feelings of many Americans:
“I don’t intend on supporting either of the major party candidates.”
The grave reality ahead of an ugly campaign lies on the answers to just two questions: Should one bother to vote? If so, who does one abhor the least? Unless Donald has a trump card to play, you’d fancy Mrs Clinton to make the White House, her full house.