John Zogby is a pollster and author who has the ability to write analysis in a way most of us can understand. Recently, John sent me the following political conundrum:
In the election of 2016, the candidates for President are:
Republican, The Emperor Nero of Rome, narcissistic, extravagant, and tyrannical. He felt the burn almost 2000 years ago.
Democrat, Catherine de Medici of Florence but Queen of France. Competent, respected by many, hated by most.
Libertarian, Dr. Timothy Leary, a famed toker, splits his residence between the planets Earth and Neptune, known to have lapses from time to time.
Green, Janis Joplin, creative and tumultuous, low in the polls but good enough for me and Bobby McGee.
If the election were held today, for whom would you vote — de Medici, Nero, Joplin or Leary?
Please cast your vote in the comment section here.
While Zogby is clearly having some fun here, he is, just as clearly, expressing the dilemma many voters feel when it comes to the two candidates at the top of the ballot.
In a recent survey of voters (Sept. 21), Pew Research Center, a non-partisan “fact tank” found that, “For Trump supporters, the candidate’s character and personality is mentioned far more frequently than any other concern. Four-in-ten registered voters who support Trump point to his personality as their main concern – with 34% specifically referring to his temperament or speaking style.
“Some Trump supporters express blunt criticisms of their candidate. One 65-year-old woman describes him as a ‘temperamental child saying anything in an attempt to get what he wants.’ A 40-year-old woman points to Trump’s ‘temper’ as a concern, but adds that she likes ‘his honesty and hard-line beliefs.’
“Fewer Clinton supporters (18%),” Pew continues “cite her character and personality as a concern, but most of those who do (17% of Clinton supporters overall) specifically refer to concerns about honesty or secrecy. An additional 16% cite Clinton’s past or some of her associations, such as her ties to Wall Street, her husband’s administration, the Clinton Foundation or actions associated with her time as Secretary of State (including her use of a private email server).
“A 45-year-old man who supports Clinton says she is ‘too guarded and not transparent enough. [She] doesn’t speak to the media’ and ‘is naturally defensive when it comes to any criticism.’ A 36-year-old woman says that while Clinton would make a ‘fine president,’ she adds she is ‘concerned about her trustworthiness.’ ”
And Pew notes voters feelings regarding the campaigns of both, writing, “As previous Pew Research Center surveys have found, voters have very negative feelings about the presidential campaign. Far more say they have been feeling frustrated (57%), disgusted (55%) or scared (43%) than say they are interested (31%), optimistic (15%) or excited (just 10%). Yet only 9% of voters say they feel indifferent about the campaign. Trump and Clinton supporters express similar levels of frustration (55% and 53%, respectively) and differ little in their feelings of disgust (53% vs. 48%) or fear (46% vs. 41%).”
The biggest negative for Trump supporters remains his “temperament/unpredictability,” at 34 percent. Only 17 percent of Clinton supporters believe their candidate’s biggest negative is “dishonesty/secrecy.”
When it comes to traditional media support, it’s interesting to note that only four newspapers have endorsed Donald Trump: The National Enquirer, New York Observer, New York Post, and The Santa Barbara News Press.
The Atlantic’s Conor Friederdorf makes this interesting observation about journalists in this year’s election (Sept. 30).
“I get the impulse to say, ‘The Washington Post endorses Hillary Clinton? So what. They would never endorse a Republican.’ If part of you thinks that way, know that this year, even if you ignore all the TV people, plus all the print media outlets that always endorse Democrats, you’re still left with a noteworthy phenomena: A whole bunch of people who nearly always support the Republican nominee oppose Donald Trump; and a whole bunch of people who nearly always oppose the Democratic nominee support Hillary Clinton.
“This year, there are staunch, lifelong members of the conservative movement—like George Will, Erick Erickson, David French, Jonah Goldberg, and Kevin Williamson—who oppose Trump, against tremendous pressure and contrary to their professional incentives. That seems like reason enough to give their anti-Trump arguments a hearing.
“Or consider the editorial board of USA Today, a newspaper with clear business incentives to stay non-partisan, and a long history of doing just that. ‘In the 34-year history of USA TODAY, the Editorial Board has never taken sides in the presidential race,’ it wrote. ‘We’ve never seen reason to alter our approach. Until now. This year, the choice isn’t between two capable major party nominees who happen to have significant ideological differences. This year, one of the candidates is, by unanimous consensus of the Editorial Board, unfit for the presidency.’
As for The Atlantic (November), a national magazine that has not supported a Democrat since Lyndon Johnson, they explained their support of Hillary Clinton this way:
“Today, our position is similar to the one in which The Atlantic’s editors found themselves in 1964. We are impressed by many of the qualities of the Democratic Party’s nominee for president, even as we are exasperated by others, but we are mainly concerned with the Republican Party’s nominee, Donald J. Trump, who might be the most ostentatiously unqualified major-party candidate in the 227-year history of the American presidency.”
So before you cast your vote for the extremist Emperor Nero, over the catty Catherine, you might want to rethink your stand before the fires begin.