Will “negative” Hillary Clinton bring order to chaos?

Read few comments.

Questions:

1. Albeit Hillary Clinton leads in the polls more than 50 percent of Americans see her unfavorably. What are the main reasons for that and is it still important for the race as Donald Trump is also perceived mostly negatively?

2. Many observers are saying that something what we can maybe call a global order is crumbling and one symptom of it is also the rise of Trump (others are perhaps Brexit, rise of political extremism, all kind of backlash against elites, etc). So what is the role of Hillary Clinton in this? Maybe I will exaggerate a bit but is she somebody who can or at least should try to bring order to chaos?

Answers:

Mark Rozell, Dean and Professor of Public Policy, George Mason University

1. The continuing drumbeat of stories about the Clinton Foundation, the missing emails, and the big money Wall Street speeches never disclosed all play into a common narrative about the Clintons as ethically challenged that is so familiar to Americans. And it all goes back to allegations made against the Clintons back when Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas and then of course the battles against the former president in the 1990s leading to his impeachment trial. Donald Trump has done a lot to keep reminding Americans of all the negative stories about the Clintons. Does it all matter? Yes, in the sense that without these negative charges Hillary Clinton would never have been in a tight race with Donald Trump but would be winning in a landslide. Most likely she wins anyway, so perhaps the negative public perception of her only hurts the margin of her victory in November.

2. To many of her supporters Clinton represents a status quo politics, steady-hand leadership during difficult times. Perhaps populist movements of angry discontented citizens in the U.S. tamps down with her election.

Trump represents to both his detractors and many supporters as well as a big risk. What separates the detractors and the supporters is whether they think the risk is worth taking.

Thomas Scotto, Professor of Government and Politics, University of Strathclyde

1. Hillary Clinton scores poorly on common traits that people look for in political leaders.  In particular, Republican and Trump’s attacks on her credibility and honesty have landed—September polling conducted by the Pew Research Centre found that more than three in ten voters who were intending to vote for Clinton specifically named her past associations and trustworthiness as things that concerned them.  To many voters, Clinton’s best attribute is that she is not Donald Trump.  This fragile support may hamper her ability to push a policy agenda through Congress, particularly if Republicans maintain control of at least one chamber.  I would not be surprised if Hillary Clinton enters her first year as president with approval ratings below Obama—there may well be no “honeymoon period” (a period of about 100 days after a president is inaugurated where voters are willing to give the new president the benefit of the doubt).  Looking forward to the 2018 midterm elections, it is important to note that historically, the party controlling the presidency looses seats in the house and senate two years into a presidency.  If voters fail to warm to a Clinton presidency, Democratic losses can be particularly severe in 2018.

2. Any of the fundamentals of the us economy are actually doing quite well.  The problem is that for those with less than university educations, wage growth has been slow to non-existent and job security is becoming a thing of the past.  The challenge for the Democrats and left of centre parties is to present a policy agenda that offers a substantive response to combat this insecurity.  Parties of the right have gained by scapegoating out-groups and attacking established institutions.  This has bought them short term popularity and won them elections.  However, few economists and policy analysts think this will improve the economic and social life of the disaffected.  This rapidly is shaping up to be the challenge politicians must face.

Kurk DorseyAssociate Professor of History, University of New Hampshire

1. As to the campaign itself, much of it is mystifying to me!  It seems to me that many people don’t really trust Clinton but even more loathe Trump.  I know plenty of people who will vote for Clinton mainly to stop Trump.  If the Republicans had nominated any one of the range of normal candidates, like Governor Bush or Governor Kasich, they would be running away with this election because of her unfavorability ratings.  The other thing that is happening is that people are looking more seriously than in a long time at a third party candidate, Gary Johnson, who is a former Republican and former governor of New Mexico.  He is not a strong candidate, but he isn’t either of them.  I expect that when the chips are down in November, many Johnson people will pull the lever for Clinton.

2. I am not sure that the global order is crumbling, but it certainly seems less popular than ever before.  If we actually changed the system dramatically, I expect people would be even more unhappy than they are right now.  Hillary Clinton’s role has been threefold: 1) she hasn’t ever done much to make a case for the positives of the integrated world order 2) her work as Secretary of State was pretty uninspiring, so we’re mainly talking about her emails and Libya rather than any actual accomplishments  3) she has read the tea leaves and discovered that she is opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, at least in public, which only contributes to the lack of faith in the system as the best way to lift the most boats.  Assuming that she becomes president, I don’t foresee her reinforcing many people’s faith in the globalization trend.

 

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