More than half of Americans are dissatisfied or embarrassed when they look at the 2016 presidential candidates, a new poll shows.
The survey of national sentiment, run by the Purdue Institute for Civic Communication (PICC) in partnership with The Hill, C-SPAN and the polling firm Penn Schoen Berland, also reveals many of the conditions that have fueled the unlikely surges of outsider candidates Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump unable to name a time when he deserved criticism Five things to watch for in Trump’s address George W. Bush: 'I don’t like the racism’ MORE and Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders mocks Trump: Healthcare is "very, very complicated" 5 challenges for new DNC chairman Tom Perez Perez and Ellison an unlikely duo to help Democrats start winning MORE.
When asked what the U.S. government is most prepared to protect them from — the list included terrorist attacks, epidemics, economic calamity and natural disasters — nearly half of those polled responded “none of the above.”
And when asked if the candidates could transport the United States to its “golden age,” only 5 percent thought that “America’s golden age is now.” The most popular decade for America’s golden age is the 1950s.
And two of the survey questions highlight the popular support for Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric and the widespread anti-trade sentiment among both Republicans and Democrats.
When asked what factors would most threaten jobs in the future, the most popular response was “outsourcing overseas” followed by “immigration.”
Respondents were also asked to finish the sentence “I could get ahead in my job if not for,” and those who believed a third party was blocking their advancement named “immigrants” as the most common obstacle.
Yet while Trump and others have gained popularity by tapping anger and anxiety in their presidential bids, those surveyed are far from satisfied with the 2016 presidential choices.
Only 3 percent of survey respondents strongly agreed that the 2016 candidates’ campaign promises are believable.
And when prompted to consider the current presidential field, about 22 percent said they felt “embarrassed by the American election system.” A further 33 percent admitted to either hoping for someone different or feeling dissatisfied with their choices.
Only 18 percent of Americans said they were satisfied with their 2016 presidential choices.
Students at Purdue University crafted the questions, and the results suggest that millennial attitudes in some policy areas diverge sharply from those of older voters.
Americans born between 1980 and 1998 are less concerned about the threat of terrorism than older voters. Millennials also have different government spending priorities. They think the federal budget should spend more on education and environmental protection, whereas those aged 50 and older want more spending on infrastructure and defense.
The polls surveyed 1,001 adults in February and has a 3.1-point margin of error.
The students who designed the questions for the PICC survey will join a presentation with The Hill’s editor-in-chief, Bob Cusack, and C-SPAN political editor Steve Scully at a National Press Club forum on Thursday.