Americans really, really dislike their politicians. Just not enough to actually replace them, apparently.
Even as Democrat Hillary Clinton plummeted to Donald Trump-like depths of unpopularity this week, the quintessential Washington insider could take solace from a string of victories by establishment candidates who triumphed over voter ire. The results are likely to reinforce Clinton's preference for a careful, boring campaign at stark odds with her Republican rival's wild swings between presidential gravitas and red meat rhetoric.
RealClearPolitics’ average polling doesn’t show much change from last week and still has Clinton ahead of Trump, 46.1% to 42%. But one thing that has dramatically changed over the past three weeks is Clinton’s unfavorable rating, which according to a recent ABC/Washington Post poll now stands at 59% — neck-and-neck with Trump's 60%.
The poll also showed Clinton's favorable rating has dropped to 41%. Trump's favorable rating is up some, but still very low at 35%. As the drip-drip of email revelations continues, Clinton's standing with the public sinks deeper and deeper.
The FBI now says it has found 30 emails potentially related to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the US mission in Benghazi as part of the thousands of deleted emails that were recovered from Clinton’s server. Regardless of what those emails actually contain, Clinton and her team repeatedly stated that all work-related emails had been turned over to the government and that any deleted emails were only purged because they were personal. Sept. 13 is the deadline for the State Department to begin delivering some of those newly uncovered emails.
It also turns out that Clinton may have emailed classified information after leaving office, according to emails obtained by the Republican National Committee that deal with the "123 Agreement" between the United States and the United Arab Emirates over nuclear energy production. The Clinton camp is claiming that the Benghazi emails are duplicates even as it gears up for more revelations from WikiLeaks; organization leader Julian Assange has said the American press supports a “demon” in Clinton.
Trump, meanwhile, has yet to decide what kind of campaign he wants to run.
His press conference alongside Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Wednesday had him looking positively presidential. By the next day, however, the brash billionaire was back to his old self, promising to deport millions of illegal immigrants and getting Mexico to pay for a border wall.
Despite the continued bad press from Clinton's email woes, one thing could make her feel warm and fuzzy this week: Pretty much all of the establishment candidates won their primaries, putting the lie to the idea that voters are ready to "toss the bums out" regardless of who comes next.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., won with 55% of the vote to former conservative state Sen. Kelli Ward’s 35%. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., handily defeated homebuilder and Trump supporter Carlos Beruff despite repeatedly promising not to run again after losing in the presidential primary against Trump. In November, Rubio will face Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy, who won 59% of the vote against former congressman Alan Grayson, a liberal firebrand.
Meanwhile, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz won her primary with 57% of the vote despite having to step down from her role as the Democratic National Committee chairwoman amid allegations she flagrantly rigged the primary against leftist Bernie Sanders. Her opponent, Sanders-backed Tim Canova, won 43% of the vote.
One outlier: After 24 years in Congress, Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., lost her primary to Al Lawson, a former state senator from Tallahassee. The final tally was 39% to 48%. But Brown had been indicted on federal fraud charges in July, which more than likely cost her the election.
More good news for Clinton is shown by a recent Gallup poll that found that in 2016, 55.4% of Americans said they are “thriving” — up from 48.9% who said the same thing in 2008. Expect the Democrats to jump on this as a sign that everything is great under the Barack Obama administration.
Does all this mean the country is ready for a third Obama term? Well, not exactly. For one thing, the Gallup data seems to contradict a recent RealClearPolitics poll showing that 62.9% of voters believe the country is heading in the wrong direction. Another glaring problem with the Gallup findings: The poll was first conducted in 2008, so there is no pre-recession, pre-Obama data to compare it with. In other words, there was almost nowhere to go but up.
The presidential race is basically a referendum on the state of the country, but the candidates, the pollsters, even the voters themselves seem confused as to what state we're in. One thing's for sure: It's going to be an interesting two months until November.
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