- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 31, 2016

As a cultural indicator, the 2016 presidential election appears to have gone far beyond partisan politics and political theater. It is now perceived by many American voters as “a battle between good and evil,” this according to William Jordan, elections analyst for YouGov polls. The pollster recently asked a large group of voters to reveal their sentiments on Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Some of the questions were fairly typical. Who is the best presidential nominee able to handle the economy, job creation and national security? Are they honest, competent, capable and compassionate? And then came the inquiry that revealed just how dramatic the 2016 election has become.

Are the candidates evil?

“A common refrain in this election has been that it represents an almost impossible choice between two historically unpopular candidates. Ethicists, opinion writers, and then third-party candidates have put it in even starker terms: in casting a ballot for Clinton or Trump voters are forced to choose the ‘lesser of two evils.’ Except, that’s not quite how voters see it,” observes Mr. Jordan.

“Among Trump’s voters a striking 83 percent would use the word ‘evil’ to describe Clinton. Clinton voters aren’t much less willing to mince their words, with 66 percent describing Trump as evil,” he continues.

The two sides are passionate, obviously. Among all registered voters, about one-quarter of them said neither candidate was evil, and only 5 percent described both candidates this way.

TIRELESS TRUMP

Donald Trump spent an unusual Wednesday, soaring in his personal jet over the Texas-Mexico border, bound for Mexico City and an intriguing joint press conference with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Mr. Trump followed up with a serious policy speech on immigration in Arizona some five hours later. The candidate is capable of great spectacle, not to mention psychological warfare. He also appears indefatigable.

On Thursday Mr. Trump will give a speech before the American Legion’s national convention in Cincinnati. It could be a humdinger, and a heartfelt humdinger. Yes, C-SPAN will be there, minus the packaging and editorial frills at 9 a.m. EDT. Mr. Trump follows this speech with a big rally in Wilmington, Ohio — some 45 miles to the northeast — three hours later.

THIRD-PARTY COFFEE

Convenience store giant 7-Eleven has offered its customers the choice of red coffee cups labeled “Republican” and blue cups labeled “Democrat” during the past four presidential election. New this year, it’s the purple cup labeled “Speak Up” for unaffiliated or nonpartisan coffee drinkers. The convenience store chain — which has about 11,000 outlets in America — will tally the sales of each type of cup in their own ongoing presidential poll.

It is 7-Eleven’s way “to keep a finger on the caffeinated pulse of American politics,” says Laura Gordon, vice president of marketing.

The familiar organization also adds some refreshing historic trivia to the mix.

“While a nonpartisan beverage enjoyed by Democrats and Republicans alike, coffee does have deep political roots in American history. In 1607, Captain John Smith of Virginia introduced coffee in America, and it was named the national beverage by the First Continental Congress after the Boston Tea Party,” 7-Eleven advises in its public outreach.

EXIT MUSIC

“Cue world’s smallest violin,” writes Stephen Green, a contributor to the always interesting Instapundit.com daily blog.

Mr. Green is referring to the well-publicized angst of former President Bill Clinton, who may have to resign from the Clinton Foundation should Hillary Clinton win the White House. Being both a “first gentleman” and a foundation executive are not particularly compatible. Mr. Clinton is melancholy about this reality, and has compared his exit from the organization — which has raised $2 billion from many sources, including foreign donations — to a root canal.

It is of note that a review of the group’s IRS documents by The Federalist last year revealed that only 15 percent of its revenues actually went for charitable programs. But that’s another story.

Here’s a simple reality, though: Mr. Clinton is facing the same situation many men of a certain age must cope with, which is this question: What now? His situation is of course amplified by his fame, presidential legacy and other factors. But in the end, he’s looking for something to do.

“The prospect of Bill Clinton stepping away from the foundation that has been the main outlet for his energy and intellect has renewed discussions about how he would fill his time in his wife’s administration. Though he’s now 70 and slowed by health issues, people close to the Clintons say they fully expect him to seek a prominent role. Hillary Clinton has even raised the prospect of putting her husband in charge of revitalizing the economy,” writes Julie Pace, a political analyst for The Associated Press.

“He just has to feel productive every single day,” Susie Tompkins Buell, a longtime Clinton family friend, told Ms. Pace. “If he gets into another situation where he’s going to have that ability, he’s going to be fine.”

MARS AND VENUS

Men and women different? But of course. A close analysis of their respective behaviors online is yet another example of the difference between the sexes. Spot.IN, a New York City-based IT developer which provides social engagement platforms for major digital publishers in the U.S., has a few telling numbers about what men and women share when they are on Twitter, Facebook or other online gathering spots.

After polling 526 U.S. adults, here are the top 10 topics that males and females chose to share online with family, friends, public:

Men are most likely to share news about politics, followed by humor, world news, technology, sports, national security/terrorism, foreign policy, human rights, food and health. And women? They are most apt to share humor, followed by news of “cute animals,” food, animal rights, health, human rights, entertainment, education, politics and world events.

The least shared topics among men are fashion and pop culture; among women, technology news and foreign policy.

POLL DU JOUR

67 percent of likely U.S. voters are “angry at the policies of the federal government”; 96 percent of voters who support Donald Trump and 36 percent of voters who support Hillary Clinton agree.

36 percent of voters overall say “the government rarely or never does the right thing”; 58 percent of Trump voters and 9 percent of Clinton voters agree.

32 percent of voters overall say the federal government “is a protector of liberty”; 11 percent of Trump voters and 66 percent of Clinton voters agree.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely U.S. voters conducted August 23 to 24.

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