You probably have your own lasting impressions of the presidential selection process America just endured. Chances are they’re negative.
You’d be right, according to a new closing analysis just released by Gallup. The gold standard of modern American polling surveyed its surveys, mined its data and filtered out eight major observations. See if they match yours:
You’re correct if you felt the campaign was a marathon – 5,950 days, to exaggerate for effect. Actually, it was “only” 595 days from the time Ted Cruz announced his doomed candidacy in Virginia until people who were “With Her” began sobbing Tuesday evening.
And the campaign tasted bad too, right? The revelations of crude talk, alleged mis-behaviors, lies and national security lapses caused deep concerns.
Gallup found that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were the most negatively-viewed candidates ever. American views of their negative campaigns were also the worst Gallup has ever recorded.
Satisfaction with Trump’s campaign was the worst in Gallup’s history. Clinton’s was third worst. Voter confidence in election honesty dropped 10 points in one summer survey. Enthusiasm for voting was the lowest in four recent presidential cycles.
If you sensed the world had turned upside-down, you weren’t alone. “The irony here,” wrote Frank Newport, Gallup’s editor, “is that Trump was able to rise to victory in the political process because he was critical of that self-same process.”
Here’s how skewed 2016 was: A large number of voters said Trump was clearly not qualified to be president. Therefore, a large number of Americans cast their ballot for Trump because that proved as an outsider he would deliver radical change.
Even pitted against such an unconventional, even tasteless competitor, a White House return was once again seen as Clinton’s to lose. And she succeeded in that.
In her gracious, tardy concession Wednesday, Clinton acknowledged the deep pain of losing. That’s understandable. Like them or not, respect them or not, we do owe our national candidates gratitude for exposing themselves to the scrutiny and abundant abuse of countrymen. As even the winner said, “This political stuff is nasty.”
It will take Clinton even longer to get her head around being the most experienced presidential candidate in modern times. Yet losing to a former donor who went out of his way almost daily to demonstrate he wasn’t standard commander-in-chief material.
Voters saw Trump’s inexperience, lack of leadership and coarse behavior as evidence the oldest man to become president was just the right guy to disrupt Washington’s self-serving, entrenched elites, whom they’ve come to detest and blame for everything.
Trump’s skill at dominating media coverage, regardless of topic, kept him in the center of America’s consciousness. That attracted media and outraged even his own party’s establishment, further confirming Trump’s desirable outsider-ness.
As an experienced reality-TV talker, Trump’s themes smartly lacked many details, which would draw criticism. They were big picture, crafted for the ear and easily remembered like corruption, bad deals, incompetent foreign policy, declining national security, disastrous ObamaCare. All resonated in flyover country where trust in institutions and government has waned.
“Make America Great Again” put Democrats on defense. How do you convince a suspicious public that greatness is still here?
Clinton was a terrible traditional campaigner. Her proposals were often detailed and small picture, intentionally tailored to appeal to the Democratic coalition’s countless micro-communities.
That might work if Clinton had a gram of charisma. Turns out, Barack Obama was too tough an act to follow. So, despite his help, her money, his political veterans and her grassroots army, millions stayed home or switched sides.
When Clinton did break through in media, it was usually bad news reinforcing her wealthy insider image. Constant coughing, then collapsing on camera on 9/11 didn’t help. And when Gallup said her name, the overwhelming response was “email.”
She set up a private, unsecured email server in early 2009 to avoid government archiving and public scrutiny of her secretary of State and lucrative family Foundation connections. That decision with its compounding lies, leaks and FBI probes has hemorrhaged for 20 months.
In that sense, the 2016 election outcome was indeed rigged — — by Hillary Clinton.