Presidential Candidate Neither

Opinion Review & Outlook

Neither for President
A new third party candidate (Neither) is rising in the polls.
Aug. 30, 2016

{ Emphasis and {commentary} in red type by Abyssum }

The year 2016 probably won’t go down as one of America’s great democratic moments, but maybe voters are wiser than their leaders. A growing body of polling evidence suggests that in a race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the candidacy of “neither” would win, perhaps in a rout.

A Monmouth University national survey published Monday asked whether voters had a favorable opinion of the Democrat, the Republican, both or neither. Some 33% had positive views about Mrs. Clinton only and 24% about Mr. Trump only. An unprecedented plurality of 35% responded ‘neither’, which means ‘neither’ meets the 15% threshold to make it into the presidential debates. Can ‘neither’ get a podium on stage?

Monmouth has asked the same question since 1984. The pre-2016 average for ‘neither’ was 5.7%, dipping as low as 3% in 1984 and reaching 9% in 1992. Some 2% of voters this year have favorable views of both candidates, and we wonder who they are and where they are being waterboarded.

Monmouth combined the new data with previous surveys to get a better understanding of what the pollster calls the one of three “negative voters.” The “vast majority” express “no opinion” about the candidate they prefer, which leads Monmouth’s Patrick Murray to conclude that “it just seems that they can’t bring themselves to admitting to a favorable opinion of the person they are grudgingly supporting.”

Reuters/Ipsos used to give voters the option of “neither/other” when polling the Trump-Clinton election, but so many people expressed such ambivalence that it stopped asking in July. The outfit decided that allowing people to express their antipathy to both candidates undermined the accuracy and predictive value of the poll.

Meanwhile, the Quinnipiac poll found in late August that 64% of Trump supporters are mainly anti-Clinton and 25% pro-Trump; 47% of Clinton supporters are anti-Trump and 32% pro-Clinton. These negative affinities, and the historically high numbers of still genuinely undecided voters around Labor Day (about 10%), show why the 2016 race could still be competitive—even if it doesn’t reflect well on the political judgment of either the Republican or Democratic parties.

We’ve sometimes thought that the best thing about this election is that one of them will lose. But that still means that one of them will take power for four years. Perhaps we need to open ourselves to new possibilities. If ‘neither’ could make it onto the November ballot, maybe we’d reconsider our longstanding editorial policy of not endorsing candidates and endorse ‘Neither.’






About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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