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Clinton, Trump Must Overcome High Negatives

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U.S. Presidential Candidates Hillary Clinton, left, and Donald Trump. (Reuters)
U.S. Presidential Candidates Hillary Clinton, left, and Donald Trump. (Reuters)

Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump are running for president facing historically negative views from voters.

Larry Sabato of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia said Americans always complain about their presidential candidates.

“It’s in the American character,” he said.

But this year is different. Both candidates have more voters viewing them unfavorably than favorably, according to a CBS/New York Times survey. CBS said the negatives for both candidates in its March survey were the highest of any presidential race since 1984.

David Redlawst is a political scientist at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

“Democrats are strongly negative on Trump and Republicans strongly negative on Clinton,” he said. “And the folks in the middle are more negative than positive, with the edge to Trump on negativity.”

The two likely nominees, however, have five months to Election Day on November 8 to change voters’ negative views.

Clinton Seeking Sanders Voters

Clinton needs to win over supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders. In April, about 25 percent of Sanders’ supporters said that they won’t vote for Clinton.

Trump, a New York businessman, has faced tough criticism from Republican leaders. The two top Republican congressional leaders said this week that they considered Trump’s statements that a judge with Mexican heritage couldn’t judge him fairly to be racist. But they said they still support Trump.

Howard Dean is a former Democratic governor of Vermont who ran for his party’s presidential nomination in 2004. Billy Tauzin served 25 years as a U.S. congressman – 15 as a Democrat and the last 10 as a Republican. Dean supports Clinton for president and Tauzin supports Trump.

Dean agrees that both candidates have high negatives. But he said that the possibility of Trump becoming president will scare people enough to vote for Clinton. She is a former secretary of state, U.S. senator and first lady.

Tauzin said that Trump has a chance to win because voters are angry with politicians from both parties. Trump is running as a “successful businessman,” not a politician.” What he needs to do, Tauzin said, is hire smart people and offer specifics on how he will “make America great again.”

Norm Ornstein is the political and government expert at the American Enterprise Institute.

He is not sure that Trump will listen to those who tell him to “get on script,” and stop attacking anybody who criticizes him.”

“I have no doubt that people are whispering into his ear and telling him, ‘You can’t say that – just as the pundits have been saying all along,” Ornstein said.

“But every time he said something outrageous, he continued marching through the primaries and eliminated the large Republican field before Hillary Clinton won enough delegates to beat Bernie Sanders.”

Ornstein said it would be easier for Clinton to change the views of voters with negative views of her than it will be for Trump to win over his critics.

Clinton, the first woman presidential nominee from a major party, reached out to Bernie Sanders and his supporters in declaring victory Tuesday night. She won four of the six state primaries Tuesday, including the big states of California and New Jersey.

Eight years ago, Clinton noted she was in the same position as Sanders – losing out to then Democratic Senator Barack Obama for the party’s nomination.

“Now, I know it never feels good to put your heart into a cause or a candidate you believe in – and to come up short,” Clinton said. “I know that feeling well. But as we look ahead to the battle that awaits, let’s remember all that unites us.”

After winning all five Republican primaries Tuesday night, Trump read from a teleprompter, something he rarely does. It was a more serious speech than has been his custom.

“I understand the responsibility of carrying the mantle, and I will never, ever let you down,” Trump said. “Too much work, too many people, blood, sweat and tears. Never going to let you down. I will make you proud of your party and our movement.”

Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said 2016 will be a unique year in American politics.

“We’ve never had a woman nominee from any major-party,” Sabato said. “We’ve never had a former first lady run. And goodness knows, we’ve never had a Donald Trump.”

Bruce Alpert reported on this story for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section or share your views on our Facebook Page.

Words in This Story

complain v. to say you don’t like something

charactern. the way someone thinks, feels, and behaves

unfavorable, favorable – adj. to view someone poorly, while favorable means to view someone in a good way

surveyn. an activity in which many people are asked a question or a series of questions in order to gather information about what most people do or think about something

negativen. harmful or bad

heritagen. the traditions, achievements, beliefs, etc., that are part of the history of a group or nation

scriptn. something that is written down for a person to read

whisper v. to talk softly

pundits n. people who are considered experts in a field such as politics

mantlen. the position of someone who has responsibility or authority

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