By Grant Smith, National News Writer
It seems almost an eternity ago when former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and real estate mogul and media titan Donald Trump declared their candidacies for President of the United States. Clinton announced her candidacy on April 12, 2015 with Trump following soon after on June 16. In the year and a half since, there have been controversies, debates, primaries, rallies, and scandals.
In an election that has seen everyone from hip hop artist Killer Mike to Ken Bone become involved, and with a majority of voters not happy with the two major party candidates, Evan McMullin has found a following in Utah. The former chief policy director for the House Republican Conference became an Independent candidate on the ballot in Utah due to his deep disagreements with Trump. Arguing for a more traditional conservative agenda, and taking advantage of Trump’s weakness with the state’s large Mormon population, McMullin has risen to competitiveness in polls of Utah voters. McMullin currently possesses a 12.1 percent chance to win the state and become the first third-party candidate to carry a state in the presidential election since George Wallace in 1968 according to the LA Times. The 40-year old has consistently polled around 30 percent but has recently been sliding back towards third place in his home state.
Returning to the two major party nominees, scandals have been heavy in this election. Whether it was Trump’s Access Hollywood tape with Billy Bush speaking of possible unwanted advances on multiple women or the exposition of private Clinton emails through WikiLeaks. The email leaks unearthed, among other things, her previously unreleased speeches to Goldman Sachs. However, the seemingly immortal scandal has been Secretary Clinton’s usage of a private email server while Secretary of State. On October 29, according to CBS News, an investigation into former Congressman Anthony Weiner’s possible sexting relationship with a 15-year old girl in North Carolina, has brought to light emails possibly related to the investigation. The computer was shared with top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, and may provide insight into Clinton’s handling of classified information.
While FBI Director James Comey could not provide substantive information on the relation to Clinton as the investigation will extend beyond the election, the effects on her polling figures have been evident. Once leading in national polling 50-38 with an 88.1 percent likelihood of winning the presidency according to simulation data from FiveThirtyEight, she currently holds a 47-44 national lead according to the most recent national poll, and a 64.7 percent chance of victory based on November 5 simulations.
Meanwhile, scandal has not been absent in recent weeks from Donald Trump. Politico reports that the Republican National Committee is under investigation for possible voter intimidation in response to Trump’s calls to supporters to “watch the polls” in response to his fears of widespread voter fraud. Trump has waffled on his willingness to accept the results of the election, refusing to answer definitively at the third presidential debate and stated at a rally soon after, “I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election, if I win.” This stance is the first of its kind among modern major party candidates.
The anger and vitriol that has dominated this election cycle have left many Americans feeling morose over the state of their political system and candidates for president. Pew Research recently found only 27 percent of Americans feel the election is focused on important policy issues, with 63 percent stating a general dissatisfaction with the election as a whole. This goes along with Congress’ highest approval ratings since February of 2015, sitting at 20 percent. This dissatisfaction seen among Americans creates another parallel to the 1968 election, in addition to McMullin’s popularity in Utah.
Voting your conscience has become increasingly difficult in this election cycle, for this reason, exercising one’s right to vote is more vital than ever, to rectify this discontent and create a greater bridge between Americans and their government.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, November 8th print edition.
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