Democrats and Media Less Popular Than Trump
While public opinion polls are said to not be entirely reliable indicators due to the questions asked, sponsor of the polls, or other factors, there are some new surveys done in the United States that are not only highly interesting but also a great indicator of the state of American society as a whole and politics in specific.
One of those polls was conducted in March this year by USA Today, a national newspaper begun in 1982, and Suffolk University, a university founded in 1906 in Boston. The other was done in the fall of 2016 by Gallup, a company well known for its pioneering work in surveys, established in 1932.
Before I introduce their findings, I wish to remind readers about the problems seen during and after the American presidential election.
It was not a normal election. The two existing parties chose the two most unpopular candidates imaginable. One of those candidates, Mr. Donald J. Trump, who won the election, even ran on an anti-establishment, populist platform, and indeed was truly an outsider that even his own party wanted to reject because of his extreme rhetoric.
Trump’s election was unexpected to most people and observers, and signaled to the world that there are many things wrong today in the United States. However, Trump is not what is wrong with American society. He is a symptom of the problems. People were no longer happy with the status quo and were willing to risk the unknown over the less-than-appealing known quantity of Hillary Clinton of the Democrats.
This was seen in the first poll alluded to above by USA Today and Suffolk University which showed that in March, Trump’s approval rating was 47% and his personal favorability was 45%. While a 47% approval rating this early in a presidency is poor by historical standards, the rating was higher than the support shown toward Hillary Clinton, who had run against him, in the 2016 American presidential election, and the Democratic Party. Specifically, Americans expressed only a 35% approval rating for Clinton, and only a 36% rate of support for the Democratic Party.
In other words, while Trump, historically speaking, is an unpopular president, he is more popular than either Clinton or the Democratic Party. In fact, they are doing worse today, six months after the elections, than they were during it.
There are several reasons for this situation, many of which are attributable to the Democratic Party itself. The message of the party to Americans seems to be “We are not Trump,” but the party does not offer any platform or plans to the American people. The Democratic Party, in other words, is empty, both policy-wise and identity-wise.
It was not only the defeated Democratic Party that did poorly in the polls. The media did not do much better. It received only 37 percent approval rating, a full ten percentage points less than Trump. In fact, among voters who identified themselves as independents, 56 percent had an unfavorable view of the media, while 78% of Republicans did.
It is interesting to note, therefore, that the two organizations—the media and the Democratic Party—which worked closely together during the elections, are more unpopular than ever. Even more unpopular than an unpopular president. Unfortunately for them, and for democracy, they are not learning their lessons and continue to pursue approaches to reporting and to politics that are not supported by the American people.
The unpopularity of the media was confirmed in an earlier poll by Gallup entitled, “Americans’ Trust in Mass Media Sinks to New Low,” showed some disturbing data. It showed that only 32 percent of Americans trusted the media—television, radio, and newspapers—to be accurate and fair. This particular poll began in 1972 and has been asked yearly since 1997. The highest amount of trust—72 percent—seen was had in 1976. The percentages have dropped dramatically in particular over the last fifteen years.
While 51 percent of Democrats trust the media, only 30 percent of the Independents and a mere 14 percent of Republicans. Among the different age groups, 38 percent of the older generation (50+ years and older) trust the media, while only 26 percent of the younger generation (18 to 49 years old) do.
There was a third, less scientific, poll that also deserves mention as it suggests the state of the leadership of the Democratic Party vis-à-vis members of its own party. This one was conducted by Fox News, a network begun in 2006 and considered excessively biased in favor of conservatives. It asked Americans their opinion about Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who was introduced in my opinion piece last month. It found that only one in four average Americans had a favorable opinion of him, and some thirty percent viewed him negatively.
What is interesting, while another thirty percent of average Americans asked had never heard of him, thirty-one percent of Democrats had never heard of him. In other words, there were less Democrats who knew of him than average Americans, even though he is one of the supposed leaders of the Democratic Party.
What this means then is that the leaders of the Democratic Party are distant and disconnected from the people, and likely will struggle more and more as they seek to get their support in upcoming elections.
As explained in the previous opinion piece, the Democratic Party continues to make itself into the “Un-democratic” Party. In doing so, it is going to become increasingly unpopular as well, as the other polls are showing. As I have argued to date, a strong opposition party and an independent media, free both from government as well as corporate and special interest interference, are vital for a healthy democracy. Currently, the main opposition party in the United States and the media are very, very sick.