Nearly half of American voters who support either Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump for the White House said they will mainly be trying to block the other side from winning, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Thursday. Simply put, as Reuters notes, the 2016 U.S. presidential election may turn out to be one of the world's biggest un-popularity contests.
"No matter who the Republican (nominee) is, I would have voted for him," poll respondent Monson said of her support for Trump. "It’s never going to be Clinton. Never."
As Reuters details, the results reflect a deepening ideological divide in the United States, where people are becoming increasingly fearful of the opposing party, a feeling worsened by the likely matchup between the New York real estate tycoon and the former first lady, said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.
"This phenomenon is called negative partisanship," Sabato said. "If we were trying to maximize the effect, we couldn't have found better nominees than Trump and Clinton."
Trump has won passionate supporters and vitriolic detractors for his blunt talk and hardline proposals, including his call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, his vow to force Mexico to pay for a border wall, and his promise to renegotiate international trade deals.
Former Secretary of State Clinton's appeal to voters seeking continuity with President Barack Obama's policies, has won her a decisive lead in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, but finds strong opponents among those disillusioned by what they see as lack of progress during Obama's tenure.
But the negative atmosphere is likely to reign, says Alan Abramowitz, an Emory University professor who has studied the rise of negative partisanship in America. Both campaigns probably will decide their best strategy is to work even harder to vilify each other, he said.
"It’s going to get very, very negative," he added.
That would play into a longer-term trend.