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Are the Polls Creating Voter Complacency?

by Louis J. Wasser

Just turn on the TV, or open your Facebook or Twitter page, and you can’t help but see the results of the latest presidential election poll.  For a variety of reasons, the results vary from poll to poll as well as by the date, or even time, the results were tabulated.

Most national polls currently have Hillary Clinton leading, but some show Donald Trump to be much closer than others.  And then there are the polls in individual key states.  If one of the candidates can lock down these all-important delegates, it may just swing the whole election in their favor.

While Trump may still be trying to sway certain groups of voters to support his campaign, Clinton’s biggest challenge seems to be ensuring that Americans who say they favor her actually do get out and vote.  Part of the problem?  Complacency.

Historically, both Trump and Clinton are among the most disliked of any presidential candidates—ever.  As of October 26, Trump’s overall favorability is just 35% and Clinton’s isn’t much better at 43%.  And their unfavorability rating is a shocking 62% and 54% respectively.

While both candidates have some strong supporters, many Americans, unhappy with the choices, say they’ll vote for the candidate they consider the “lesser of two evils.”  But the big question is this:  Will voters actually flock to the polls on November 8 to vote for someone they don’t really like? Or will they simply stay home?

Some Americans may choose to cast their vote for a third party candidate to make a point, even though both history and the polls show these candidates have no chance of winning the election.  Others opt to stay home because they don’t want to feel responsible for nudging one of these candidates into office.

With thoughts like these going through the minds of many Americans, the poll numbers may indeed have an effect on voters – and that’s to stop them from voting.  Instead of saying, “My candidate is leading — I’m excited to go out and vote, too,” eligible voters may assume that the poll numbers are cast in stone.

Those whose candidate is trailing may assume their vote isn’t enough to make a difference, so why bother?  And those that support the poll leader may now feel like that their vote is unnecessary.  If their support is merely lukewarm anyway, they see the poll numbers as just another excuse to stay home.

But if you have any preference at all, don’t do it.  Your vote does matter.  Maybe you don’t like the personalities, but you might lean toward a certain candidate — or political party — in terms of their stand on major issues such as immigration, health care, abortion or gun control.  With the polls changing daily, the candidates themselves are far from complacent, and they don’t want the voters to be complacent either.

“We’ve got to get everybody out to vote,” Clinton told rally-goers in Tampa, Florida, one of the prime swing states. “Every vote counts.” Communications director Jennifer Palmieri added, “We are concerned that people think that she’s ahead, and that they don’t have to hustle as hard and we want to keep everybody hustling.”

Trailing in many polls, Trump is trying to rally his own supporters with the message that they shouldn’t give up.  “We are gonna win,” the GOP candidate insists.

Each candidate has specific pockets of core supporters such as women, young voters, white collar and blue collar workers or minorities.  But no matter how much support they get in the polls, the real goal is to win at the polls.  And that means persuading voters to put complacency aside and make their votes count on November 8.


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