I was part of a very interesting show on Al Jazeera this week. The Stream invited me on to join a panel of fellow correspondents from across the globe. We were talking about how the world was reacting to the race for president of the United States.
It was interesting because the reaction was universal. From Europe to the Middle East and in Africa, the world it seems is terrified of what is happening in the US. Namely they are terrified of what a Donald Trump presidency would look like.
You can understand why many are expressing concern. Latin America is worried that he will build a wall and steal the remittances from their families. He has also promised to round up 11 million undocumented workers from across the globe and send them back to their home countries.
You could understand why 1.6 billion Muslims would be concerned - after all he’s planned to ban them from coming to the country. He would likely let the roughly three million Muslims living in the US stay.
You could probably see why anyone who is actually a part of the global economy might be concerned. He has vowed to tear up all existing trade deals which would likely lead to a trade war.
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Then he promised to basically default on the debt. He explained it as asking people to sell back US Treasury bonds at a discount. That is actually a default by a different name. He went on to try and explain that the country couldn’t default because it prints its own money. He didn’t explain exactly what that meant and economists are at a loss to figure it out either.
Given all he has said that is so extreme my fellow panelists had one question for me. How is it possible that America is backing Trump? I explained the country hasn’t voted for Trump. He has won the support of the majority of Republicans who have voted in the primary. People who vote in primaries tend to be the most extreme members of their political parties.
More than 10 million people cast their ballots to give him the Republican nomination. That might sound like a lot but compare that with the 129,085,410 people who voted in the last presidential election.
The next question of course is can he win? It seems likely that he will face former secretary of state, senator and first lady Hillary Clinton. I put in all of her past titles to give you a sense of what her problem is.
You might read that and think experience, but for many Americans it’s a reminder that she has been on the national stage for more than two decades and they are tired of her.
She's had her share of controversies and the majority of Americans say they don’t trust her, they don’t think she is honest. She’s still the subject of a federal inquiry into the fact that she set up her own private email server to use while secretary of state.
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She says it was for convenience but many think it was an attempt to circumvent public disclosure rules. She literally could not have come up with a scandal that would do more to reinforce the negative narrative about her that she plays by her own rules. Her unfavourability rating is going to work against her. In polls just under 55 percent of people asked say they don’t really like her all that much.
The good news for her team is that a lot more people have an unfavourable opinion of Trump. His number is 65.4 percent. You would be hard pressed to find a more unpopular presidential candidate at any time in the nation’s history.
He has a much higher unfavourability number if you break it down into groups. The vast majority of African-Americans, Latinos, women and young voters say they don’t like him. That is a long list of critical groups. If he can’t change their minds, he can’t win the presidency.
You have heard many shell-shocked Republican politicians try to explain Trump's policy proposals by saying he is not a politician and he will need a little time to learn the issues. They promise he will be less extreme and act in a more "presidential" way.
They may want to check with their candidate who just explained he is going to continue to behave exactly the way he has in the primary. He basically says it’s worked so far so why change now?
Both of these candidates tend to bring out the passion of followers on the other side. Fervent Republicans will show up to vote if only to deny Clinton a victory. The most passionate Democrats will make sure they vote to keep Trump out of the White House.
The election will be determined by how those in the middle decide to vote; whether it is for a candidate or against one. And as we have seen in the past - in US elections fear is an excellent motivator.
Source: Al Jazeera