The American electorate does not like Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. They are the two most disliked presidential nominees in United States history. A recent poll showed Evan McMullin, an independent candidate, winning the state of Utah. The third-party candidates, Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, have remained a part of the electoral discussion much longer than most third-party candidates have historically, and if their polling numbers hold would receive popular support unseen since Ross Perot. Some polling numbers have even shown remarkable support for potential write-in candidates such as Harambe. These candidates have no chance to win, for various reasons, but these polling numbers demonstrate the severe disaffection with which many view the Clinton-Trump presidential race.
Many Americans truly do see a Clinton versus Trump choice as a “lesser of two evils” decision. Many have applied this especially to millennials as this group of voters is generally less likely to cast a ballot and aren’t particularly supportive of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. If millennials like neither Clinton nor Trump they may simply decide not to vote. As millennials now comprise the second-largest voting bloc in the American electorate, getting these citizens to vote is considered crucial, not only to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but to American democracy.
The University of Massachusetts-Lowell is paying particular attention to this group. The UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion has partnered with social media platform Odyssey in order to conduct a series of polls to learn about millennials, the presidential election and their attitudes towards race, government and policy. The first of these polls was recently released had had some interesting results.
“By a 3 to 1 margin, likely millennial voters prefer Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump in the race for President of the United States. Among likely voters, Clinton leads 66% to Trump’s 22% with 12% undecided. When third-party candidates are added to the mix, Clinton takes 61%, Trump stays at 22%, Libertarian Gary Johnson takes 9%, Green Party candidate Jill Stein gets 5%, and only 3% remain undecided. Clinton does best among the likely voter sample, indicating that those most likely to vote are breaking for Clinton. Among those unlikely to vote, however, only a little over half of voters would choose one of the two major-party candidates (39% Clinton and 19% Trump). The other 41% of voters would pick Johnson (12%) or Stein (5%), with 25% undecided. Historically, research has shown that voter turnout rates are among the lowest of any age group for young voters and a key theme in this report is that many millennials are not happy with their choices in this election…
“Millennials do not like Donald Trump, but they are relatively lukewarm to Hillary Clinton as well. Trump is viewed favorably by only 25% of registered voters in our survey, compared to 72% who view him unfavorably. On candidate qualities (we asked respondents to rate each candidate on 12 characteristics including honesty, level-headedness, leadership, qualifications, intelligence, experience, takes responsibility for mistakes, would bring change, etc.), Trump does no better than 35% on any single rating. Only 19% view him as level-headed, 20% think he has the right kind of experience to be President, and 23% think he “cares about people like you.” He’s also viewed by large majorities as dishonest, lacking leadership and someone who would not bring the right kind of change to the country…
“While Trump is viewed very negatively by millennials on every metric that was measured in this survey, Hillary Clinton is a liked, but not a well-liked alternative. Most national polls have Clinton’s approval rating at around 40% and Clinton is viewed favorably by 56% of millennial registered voters. Her approval rating is just 1 point above former President Clinton’s (55%), but falls well short of the approval rating of both Bernie Sanders (73% favorable) and Barack Obama (71% favorable).
“On candidate characteristics, her biggest liability is her honesty; only 36% say she is honest, 43% say she “means what she says and says what she means” and 46% say “she takes responsibility for her mistakes.” Millennial registered voters see many virtues in Clinton: 71% say she is intelligent (compared to 35% for Trump), 67% say she has the right experience to be President (compared to 20% for Trump), 60% say she is level-headed (compared to 19% for Trump) and 60% say she has good leadership skills (compared to 33% for Trump). But millennials who overwhelmingly support her in this election are split on whether she cares about people like you (55% yes to 45% no) and whether she would bring the right kind of change to the country (51% yes to 49% no).”
That is to say a majority of millennials would vote for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, but not necessarily because they actually like her, and it remains unclear if millennials actually will vote for her. If their votes are cast, it would appear as though it is because millennials truly do view Clinton as the lesser evil. More from UMass-Lowell:
“To get at whether the preference for Clinton was seen as a vote for the “lesser of two evils,” we asked voters to rank order their preference for five different outcomes: (1) a Clinton Presidency, (2) a Trump Presidency, (3) Obama appointing himself to a life term as President, (4) A giant meteor strikes the earth and extinguishes all human life and (5) the President is selected by a random lottery from among all U.S. citizens. Clinton gets the plurality of first choice votes, with 33%, followed closely by a life term for Obama at 27%. Trump comes in at third with 16%, while equal numbers (12% respectively) prefer a giant meteor and a random lottery.
“In terms of pairwise comparisons, 39% of millennials prefer that Obama serve a life term as President rather than have either a Clinton or Trump Presidency, 26% prefer a random lottery to either serving as President, and 23% (nearly 1 in 4!) prefer a giant meteor and the extinguishing of human life to either a Clinton or Trump Presidency. Majorities prefer a random lottery (67%), a lifetime Obama Presidency (66%) and a giant meteor (55%) to a Trump Presidency. A majority even prefers that Obama serve a life term as President (51%) to a Clinton Presidency, while 39% prefer a lottery election and 34% prefer a giant meteor to a Clinton Presidency.”
It would be naive to believe somewhere between 12 and 55 percent of millennials would truly prefer human extinction to Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, but as noted in the study, the “startling frequency” with which respondents chose this option must be taken as “a sign of displeasure and disaffection with the candidates and the election of 2016”.
That is one conclusion.
Have a nice day.