The Least Favored Candidates Are Now the Most Favored

Analysts of the 2016 presidential process seem stunned that the top candidates in both parties, Hillary and Trump, have such high disapproval ratings. Today Trump has an unfavorable rating of 68% and Hillary Clinton 55%. These analysts may have failed to notice that the electorate has changed and that unfavorability is no longer determinative of a preference. Their mistake may be that they think a highly unfavorable view is fatal to a candidate’s electability. But since the two leading candidates in the campaign have the highest unfavorable ratings it may be that the media’s viewpoint, their comprehension of the electorate’s perspective, that is the real issue. 

Look at all the rhetoric in science, technology, society, manners and other aspects of American culture and behavior. The reality may be that there is a new normal and the normal is negative. A negative attitude is normal. 

So many issues in American life are portrayed as unfavorable that unfavorability has lost its significance as a predictor of rejection. The assumption of media pundits is that if Trump and Hillary have high unfavorable ratings this means that voters don’t like them. But maybe Americans have been so thoroughly trained to see things in an unfavorable light that favorability doesn’t matter anymore.

Think about it. Try to imagine one significant aspect of American life that progressive Democrats have not put into an unfavorable light.

Everything you buy has some negative halo around it. If you buy clothes made in a less developed country you are promoting some kind of slave labor. If you buy clothes made in the USA you are creating pollution, dirtying rivers and lakes, and rotting the workers’ brains with monotonous factory jobs. 

Automobiles create rush hour gridlock, stress, air pollution and hurt the environment. Scarcely anything you eat meets with a favorable ranking. GMO foods are bad, as are sugar, anything grown with fertilizer, anything that contains cancer-causing preservatives, growth hormones and damaging artificial colors and flavors. The only thing you can eat that is healthy is organically grown, but even that is picked by underpaid, exploited labor and delivered to the grocery store by a diesel-fueled truck.

Even human beings are portrayed as unfavorable to the natural, holistic environment of mother earth. Humans shouldn’t be here; all they do is enslave cattle to lives of misery, cage animals in order to eat their dead carcasses, and destroy every beautiful micro-ecological system on earth. In the film The Day the Earth Stood Still an alien came to save the Earth from humans. Liberals have taught everyone to accept unfavorability. So they should not be surprised. Be careful what you wish for. Rhetoric has consequences. 

The idea that unfavorability is bad, is blind to the reality that nothing any longer is favorable. Media analysts shouldn’t be surprised by anything but their naivete to the unfavorability found in all aspects of life. 

Just as the boy in the fairy tale who cried wolf once too much destroyed the credibility of that warning, unfavorability is now so common that unfavorability is not unfavorable. It is expected. Anyone who doubts this should try to think of one aspect of American life that is consistently portrayed by the news media or cultural commentators as favorable. The only thing placed in a favorable light is a new government program designed to make things better. 

Political analysts look for consistency in polls. Polls now consistently prove that favorability doesn’t matter. What political analysts are suffering from is cognitive dissonance: a clash between what they expect and what is real. In the past, unfavorability was a legitimate factor in a political campaign, but there is no evidence that unfavorability now matters. 

Political campaigns are based on perceptions. If perceptions change, the understanding of perceptions should change. But they don’t. Media analysts are usually middle aged or older and don’t understand the new perceptions of the average American any more than they grew up with apps and texting. 

Currently, political analysts are talking about what a wild and unpredictable presidential race this has been. This, again, is based on their biased view that races should be smooth and predictable; but they don’t explain what that means. They don’t explain why what should be doesn’t conform to reality. They have injected themselves too much into the analysis, into how they frame the race. The flaw lies not in the polls but in themselves. 

They should listen to voters, study voters far more than they have. Polling questions are obviously outdated and inadequate. If it were otherwise, they would have already established a paradigm for understanding the electorate. So far, polls have failed to provide political analysts with an adequate framework for understanding the perceptions and expectations of voters. It will be interesting to see how, after the election is over, political analysts change their methods of sounding public sentiment. If they don’t recalibrate their concepts, they will continue to fail to understand voters.   

The current generation of political analysts and academic political scientists are just rehashing the same tired rhetoric. They got their jobs and tenure by going along with the ideological establishment. The same can be said of TV and radio analysts. Most have seen things the same way for so long they are intellectually incapable of comprehending a new paradigm, let alone discovering one. 

Political analysts spend far too much time talking about their own amazement that Trump is still standing, or about how Trump is not a true conservative. They need to quit displaying their shortcomings and work to understand the American electorate.