Are Americans Mad at the Political System?

How political outsiders are making in-roads in the 2016 presidential run.

Stephen Henderson talks with Philip Rucker, national political correspondent for the Washington Post, Diana McBroom, political analyst and managing partner at DMC Strategies public affairs and political consulting firm, and Dennis Darnoi, political analyst at RevSix Data Systems, about voter anger and the role that Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are playing in the 2016 election. 

  • Nuance of anger: McBroom says both the Democratic and Republican parties have a percentage of voters who are frustrated with the party line. She says Democratic and Republican anger are different because Democrats have a greater sense of urgency and excitement, while Republican anger is more sensationalist. Darnoi says anger is a decent catch-all term for the voter feeling, and that it is easy for Republican candidates to tap into that anger because part of the Republican base is built on voter frustration.
  • Emotional voting: Rucker says voters depend more on their gut feeling than policy, so the way Donald Trump speaks matters more than what he actually says. He says Trump strikes an emotional chord with an economic populist audience, and that he did well speaking in Flint. A caller says he looks for “honesty” in candidates, and that Trump and Sanders are the “only two honest candidates”. Stephen wonders if what voters think is honesty is actually oversimplified rhetoric, and not substantive policy proposals. 
  • Money in politics: Rucker says Trump is appealing because he is not beholden to corporate donors, and Darnoi says he is “thumbing his nose at the donor class”. A caller says millionaire and billionaire candidates are already invested in corporate interests, and he does not trust Donald Trump. Rucker points out that Sanders is relying on individual donations instead of wealthy donors. 
  • Pushing boundaries: McBroom says that while both Sanders and Trump are pushing boundaries, they are not doing it in the same way.  She says Sanders is pushing policy, while Trump is skating the line of offensive statements and winning media coverage. A caller worries about the impact of “star power” on politics, and McBroom says that without star power, Trump would be vilified for his statements. A different caller who supports Bernie Sanders says Trump is “sucking out all the oxygen” because he is bombastic, and receiving more serious media coverage even though Bernie is drawing bigger crowds. 
  • Affects final election: Stephen asks if Trump or Sanders have a chance to win party nominations. MCBroom says that information about both of them will come out over the nest few months that will make them less electable among mainstream primary voters. McBroom and Darnoi say neither candidate will win their primary, but Darnoi says Trump and Sanders supporters will feel disenfranchised if there is a Clinton vs. Bush election, and we will see strong third party sentiment. 

Click audio link above to hear the full conversation.