November 8, 2016 is a date that some may relish, and others may fear. On this date, voters will select either Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton or Republican nominee Donald Trump. The two candidates enter the general election scene with sky-high unfavorable numbers. Clinton is still under FBI investigation, and Trump seems to utter the most volatile statements while his poll numbers somehow stay the same or rise. Many say that this election will be a blowout, ending with Clinton as the 45th President of the United States.
However, I believe that this will be a very close election. Supporters of Trump will emphasize how the billionaire businessman received over 13 million votes during the primary season, according to Real Clear Politics, which was the most in any GOP primary election. Critics will say, on the other hand, that Trump received the most votes against him in primary history, which is also true. However, when the primaries began with the Iowa Caucauses on Feb. 1, there were 17 GOP candidates. The Democratic party, on the other hand, had only had three candidates.
Trump describes himself as “the Washington outsider,” a title that contributes to his popularity, as his supporters view him as someone that can clean up Washington and make the federal government a well-oiled machine again. He also touts about his net worth and how he does not need to take money from Wall Street lobbyists, which is something that his opponent did as a New York Senator and as Secretary of State during the first term of the Obama Administration.
Hillary Clinton, however, has something that most people running for the presidency don’t have – a spouse that previously occupied the oval office. Bill Clinton left office with a 66% approval rating, according to Gallup, which is one of the highest in modern history. The last time the man was a resident of the White House, however, he was impeached and almost thrown out of office in 1998 for committing perjury and obstruction of Justice due to his affair with former White House Intern Monica Lewinsky. Another policy issue that has put daggers in Clinton’s campaign is Bill Clinton signing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) into law in 1993. This is a bill that has been seen as both good and bad, but it was particularly hard on the working class. Since NAFTA was signed into law 23 years ago, it is estimated that over 800,000 Americans have lost their jobs, according to Politifact, because they were outsourced out of the country.
These jobs were taken from states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and upstate New York. Pennsylvania and Michigan are two states that have always voted for the democratic candidate, but these trade deals have hurt their economies. There is very little manufacturing left in these states and people want to get back to work with the skills that they have mastered over the years.
Trump’s business record has its hot and cold stretches as well. He has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for companies four times over his lifetime. Ironically, Trump repeatedly mentions how the government is letting companies be able to get away with this and always footing the bill for their mistakes. Clinton also faces the dilemma over her election history, in September of 1999 the Clinton’s purchased a home in Chappaqua, New York. As a resident of New York, Clinton could run for office for the upcoming open United States Senate seat. Prior to the election, it looked like it would be Clinton against New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, but he dropped out of the race and Clinton faced Rick Lazio, who ended up being no match against her.
Now Senator Clinton would easily win her re-election bid in 2006, as it was looking like this would be her last term as Senator as she was preparing to run for President in 2008. Once 2008 came around, however, Clinton faced the fight of her life facing first-term Illinois Senator Barack Obama. Clinton would not be able to beat the freshman senator
This election cycle, Clinton was looking like the presumptive nominee before the primaries and debates occurred but, once again, she faced several problems on her path to the Democratic nomination. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders ended up being a thorn in the side of Clinton. He pushed a very strong, very left, progressive agenda. This made Clinton very uncomfortable, as she now had to keep shifting to the left – somewhere that she is not very comfortable with. Free college and free healthcare is something that the progressive wing of the party has pushed along with Sanders, and now Clinton is somewhat following it. She now emphasizes how she plans to run a progressive agenda, because that is the flavor of the week for the Democratic party.
Hillary Clinton has been criticized for taking a progressive approach that she has never supported in the past. Although this can cause more Independent voters to support Clinton, there can also be a backlash from middle-of-the-road Democrats who disapprove of the direction that the party is heading. Donald Trump also faces criticism from his within his own party, about whether or not he is conserative enough for the Republican Party of 2016. An example of this occured during the Republican Convention where Texas Senator Ted Cruz decided on primetime television to “vote your conscience.”
As it looks right now, the 2016 election might have one of the lowest turnouts in recent history. I believe that it will be similar to the 2000 election between Al Gore and George W. Bush, which all came down to the state of Florida to decide who was going to win. Whichever candidate becomes the next president will have to face some of the highest disapproval ratings in history.