- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 12, 2016

The 2016 presidential race won’t be a contest of which candidate Americans vote for in November but which candidate they vote against — a purported racist or an alleged crook — and that fear of an unwanted occupant in the White House will drive record numbers to the polls, experts predict.

The historically high negative ratings of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton are expected to spur record turnouts in November, as voters respond to the ingrained impulse for self-preservation.

“Having a negative candidate, a disliked candidate, a threatening candidate on the other side is more likely to inspire turnout,” said Jon A. Krosnick, a professor of political science, communication and psychology at Stanford University. “In general, we as humans are more motivated by threats than we are by opportunities.”


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And voters should expect those fears to be played upon and enflamed by a record-breaking onslaught of negative TV ads.

“It is very likely that this presidential campaign will be the most negative in the TV era,” said John G. Greer, a Vanderbilt University political science professor and authority on negative political advertising. “We set records four years ago, and those are likely to fall in 2016.”



He agreed that the negativity will bring out voters on Election Day.

“Voting is a choice, and while many will be voting for the lesser of two evils, people will respond. Attacks do not, despite some old conventional wisdom, discourage voting,” he said.

The negativity surrounding both candidates has already contributed to heightened interest in the presidential contest so far this year, said Mr. Krosnick.

“I wouldn’t be even slightly surprised if it turns out there has been more talk in the country over coffee or over lunch by all segments of the public about this election because of what people perceive as a threat of a very undesirable candidate getting into the White House,” he said.

Indeed, the negative views of the two candidate at this stage are unprecedented.

Mr. Trump garnered a 58 percent unfavorable rating and Mrs. Clinton had a 56 percent unfavorable rating in a Fox News poll last week. Those numbers are consistent with most surveys and mark the lowest favorability for a pair of presumptive nominees since at least the 1980s.

However, most polls have shown both the billionaire businessman and the former secretary of state fare much better among voters within their own parties, which helps explain how these widely despised figures became the presumptive nominees.

It’s no wonder Americans fear these candidates.

Mr. Trump has been under fire for statements deemed racist since announcing his candidacy last June and vowing to build a wall on the southern border to keep out illegal immigrants, who he said included Mexican rapists and killers.

His plan to temporarily ban Muslims from the United States in response to terrorist attacks was labeled “bigoted” and “un-American.”

He cemented that image last week with remarks about the Mexican heritage of an American-born federal judge. Democrats and Republicans condemned the statement as “racist.”

For her part, Mrs. Clinton is considered a liar or dishonest by more than half of the country, polls have shown.

She is the target of an FBI investigation for her exclusive use of a private email account and private email server located in her home for official business while secretary of state, which defied federal open records laws and potentially put classified information at risk.

She has also been accused of lying about the 2012 terror attack in Benghazi, Libya, to protect President Obama’s re-election bid.

Furthermore, she is under scrutiny for foreign donations to her family’s charitable Clinton Foundation while serving as secretary of state.

A report last week revealed that a major donor to the foundation received a plum appointment to a State Department intelligence board despite having no experience for the job.

Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton tapped into this deep well of anxiety by focusing on each other as they attempted to unify their respective parties for the general election bout.

Hillary Clinton, or, as I call her, Crooked Hillary Clinton — she’s as crooked as they come,” Mr. Trump said at a gathering of Christian conservatives in Washington.

Hillary Clinton has totally jeopardized national security by putting her emails on a private server, all to hide her corrupt dealings,” he said. “This is the reason she did it, folks. It’s to hide her corrupt dealings. She’s now under criminal investigation.”

Mrs. Clinton, speaking at a Planned Parenthood Action Fund event in Washington, warned of the damage Mr. Trump would wreak as president.

Donald Trump would take us in the wrong direction in so many issues we care about: economic justice, workers’ rights, civil rights, human rights, the environment. All of that is on the line in this election,” she declared.

“When Donald Trump says a distinguished judge born in Indiana can’t do his job because of his Mexican heritage, or mocks a reporter with disabilities, or denigrates Muslims and immigrants, it goes against everything we stand for. He does not see all Americans as Americans,” said Mrs. Clinton.

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