It is unbelievable that it has come to this: the two candidates with the highest unfavorability ratings in history are on track to become our presidential nominees.
Although the primaries are not yet over, the likelihood of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump clinching the Democratic and Republican nominations remains strong—it’s a matchup that feels otherworldly.
Over the past few months, Trump vanquished the 16 other Republican candidates, and despite the Republican establishment’s best efforts with options such as Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich, Republican voters overwhelmingly went in favor of Trump’s incendiary rhetoric and divisive ideas.
On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders still has a small mathematical shot of beating Clinton, but her inherent name recognition and establishment backing largely prevailed, as she is currently about 276 pledged delegates ahead of the Vermont senator.
This is not an election of hope and change, as Obama represented eight years ago. This is an election of fear and power—most voters are voting against a candidate, rather than for their presidential preference.
It’s an astonishing case of both candidates outdoing one another in terms of unfavorability.
Clinton would have already been the most unfavorable presidential candidate in history (she currently holds between a 54.6 and 54.9 percent unfavorable rating according to Huffington Post and RealClearPolitics aggregates),until Trump came along.
Trump possesses an astronomical 65.4 percent unfavorable rating.
It appears inconceivable that candidates so intensely disliked by the general electorate would be our two choices, yet this demonstrates how broken and undemocratic our primary system is. With many states closing primaries to independents and restrictive voter ID laws engendering widespread voter suppression, the state of our democracy is fundamentally in jeopardy.
According to a new poll by Reuters, Americans are simply casting “anti-votes” on both sides: “Nearly half of American voters who support either Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump for the White House said they will mainly be trying to block the other side from winning.”
Forty-seven percent of Trump’s voters flock to him solely because they do not want Clinton to win, while 46 percent of Clinton voters are with her because they do not want Trump in the White House.
As Reuters points out, this is essentially “the world's biggest un-popularity contest.”
Regardless of whether Trump or Clinton wins, they will both be presidents that a majority of Americans hate even before they have implemented a single policy proposal.
This election needs to serve as a wakeup call to both the Democratic and Republican parties. The primaries are clearly unrepresentative of the majority of Americans, and our two-party system has led to an unpopularity contest of historical proportions. It does not bode well for the future of U.S. democracy if we are ultimately forced to cast a vote for the candidate we hate least.