6 May 2016

41% of Americans: Give us someone other than Clinton or Trump


Yesterday I reported on how 44% of American voters were “terrified” at the prospect of Donald Trump becoming their 45th president. Today we asked similar questions about the prospect of a President Hillary Rodham Clinton. At the time of posting, 2,922 members of YouGov’s First Verdict panel had answered.

Fewer panellists were terrified at the thought of Mrs Clinton winning than at the idea of Mr Trump prevailing but the third that did say that was how they viewed the possibility is another sign of how the 2016 presidential election represents a choice between two candidates with historically unprecedented negatives.

Moreover, if you add up the proportions of people who view the possibility of a Trump or Clinton presidency positively (either answering they would “celebrate” or be “pleased” you get very similar numbers: 31% for Trump and 33% for Clinton. Those viewing the prospect negatively (either expecting themselves to be “disappointed” or “terrified”) you get much bigger numbers; a 58% negative number for Trump and a 57% negative number for the likely Democratic nominee.  See the chart below:

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Reflecting on Trump-V-Clinton choice, the Republican Senator Ben Sasse (definitely a Never Trumper) has joked that “there are dumpster fires in my town more popular than these two”. In a ten-point Facebook post the first term Senator for Nebraska argued that “our Founders didn’t want entrenched political parties. So why should we accept this terrible choice?”

We anticipated this issue with questions we put to the YouGov panel on Monday. We asked: “If November’s presidential election is a choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump would you like to see a third candidate stand?” 41% said that they would be keen for a third party choice:

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But what kind of third party choice?

This is where it gets trickier for people like Senator Sasse wanting to break the traditional duopoly. Asked to choose between a Sanders-style, Reaganite or more middle-way third party candidate, voters were almost equally split. 27% wanted democratic socialism from their third party candidate; 34% wanted Reaganite conservatism and 30% wanted a centrist independent:

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Former Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman and former Republican Governor Jon Huntsman (neither particularly popular with their old parties) have been promoting a bipartisan policy agenda at the “NoLabels.org” website. They list policy ideas that, they say, can bring America together (quoted by Doyle McManus in the LA Times):

“Allowing Medicare to negotiate with drug companies to lower prices, which gets 82% support. Passing a “no budget, no pay” law to withhold Congress’ paychecks if a federal budget isn’t passed, which gets 81% support. Increased funding for childcare and early education; 79% support.”

You can read all of the policy ideas here and if you want a critique of them, no-one is more fiery than Charles P Pierce at Esquire.com.

For more about Portrait of America and the methodology behind First Verdict, click here.

For the complete Portrait of America catalog, click here.

Tim Montgomerie is Editor of Portrait of America