As the election season plows on, Americans are losing confidence in the entire process.
A new poll from Gallup shows that only 30 percent say the election process is working, down from 37% last month. Most of this decline originates from Republicans who are growing increasingly “cynical” of the process. Since January, the number of GOP and GOP-leaners who believe the election process is working has dropped from 46% to 30%.
It is unclear from the data if partisans are reacting to the developments in their own party’s nomination race, the other party’s nomination race or both. Republicans’ increasingly dour sentiments may be related to Trump — either the increasing inevitability that he will gain his party’s nomination, or the way controversial aspects of his campaign have dominated the news. Trump is the least popular Republican nominee among members of his own party in recent elections going back to 1996, and he is much less well-liked than Hillary Clinton is among Democrats. Democrats’ more stable but still cynical views may be based on their views of what is happening on the GOP side, or they may not be pleased with something about their own party’s campaign.
Another reason people may be more unhappy with the election nowadays is the increased media coverage of campaign events. We’re seeing more than the usual number of campaign commercials or candidate appearances on TV news shows. Networks have been cutting into regular day programming to bring live streams of campaign rallies.
Additionally, the violence and protests at some of these events are getting covered as news stories in addition to the typical political updates covered as news.
The latest numbers can be contrasted with public opinion back in January 2000, when 57% said the election process was working properly. The number was even higher in January of 2008, when Obama first ran for office, with 67% of Americans confident in the process.
Gallup points out one reason for the public’s pessimism isn’t a lack of quality candidates. Sixty-eight percent say that there is at least one good, potential president running for office and 63% of those who are displeased with the process say so.
On the other hand, opinions about one of the candidates may be directing dissatisfaction with the entire race. Gallup suggests, “A recent March 17-20 New York Times/CBS News survey found that 60% of Republican registered voters say the Republican presidential campaign has made them feel mostly embarrassed by the Republican Party rather than mostly proud. In the same poll, only 13% of Democratic registered voters said they were mostly embarrassed about their party’s campaign. These findings support the hypothesis that Republicans’ views that the campaign is not working properly are being driven by their negative views of the candidates’ campaigns, most likely related to Trump”
Eight months left until election day — do you expect people to gain confidence or remain dissatisfied?