Clinton’s name cleared, but storm clouds loom as US presidential campaign exposes deep voter dissatisfaction

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 November, 2016, 1:31pm
UPDATED : Monday, 07 November, 2016, 1:31pm

Despite last-minute good news from the FBI that saw Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s name cleared over a new batch of her emails linked to her private email server, the gridlock in US politics exposed during the presidential campaign trail has already left deep dissatisfaction among the electorate, according to polls and voters.

The FBI informed Congress on Sunday that it would not recommend charges over these latest Clinton emails while secretary of state – removing a dark cloud that has been looming over her campaign ahead of Tuesday’s Election Day.

In July it concluded that Clinton had been careless but not criminal in handling sensitive material on her private email server while secretary of state.

However, Dan Lee, political science professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said the twist and turns in the news cycle would not drastically change opinions about a candidate among voters, who are already dissatisfied with American politics.

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“People are dissatisfied with the government’s ability to do anything – a lot of it is over the gridlock in American politics,” Lee said.

He argued that the ongoing fight between the two parties, not only on the campaign trail, but also during the daily operation of the government over the past eight years of US President Barack Obama’s administration, had given rise to a surge in undecided voters during this election.

As of November 3, one in 20 likely voters was still undecided, according to a count of major polling averages conducted by the Huffington Post.

FiveThirtyEight, an opinion poll website owned by ESPN, even put the percentage of uncommitted voters at 15 per cent – up from the 5 per cent it estimated in 2012.

Soni Oreste, a Filipino American who lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, is one of these voters. She has yet to decide who she will vote for Tuesday.

“I am not passionate with either one [of the candidates] so I’m having a hard time deciding,” she said.

Oreste, who said she was in her 50s and had voted Republican in the past, said it was not about issues, but the personality and impression she had about the candidates that made her hesitate to vote.

She said the Republican candidate Donald Trump was not “presidential” enough. “His mannerisms scare me to death,” she said.

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But on the other hand, the alleged corruption scandals and the controversial use of private email servers by Clinton had made Oreste feel she could not trust her as president.

Jing Diwa, another Filipino American in Las Vegas, also said he had yet to pick his favoured candidate.

Diwa said despite voting Republican in past elections and supporting Trump’s stance on immigration control, he was not sure who he would vote for this time because he was dismayed by the current state of US politics.

“I don’t even know whether I am going to vote,” he said. “Everything ... everything is just bad. There are so many things happening.”

The race has been tightening as the day of the election draws near. A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal national poll suggests that 44 per cent of likely voters support Clinton and 40 per cent back Trump.

However, no matter who won, the next US president was likely to face a grave challenge over his or her administration’s effectiveness in pushing through policy, Lee said.

“Trump would have probably the toughest time because the Democrats do not like him, and even half of the Republicans do not like him,” Lee said.

“If Clinton wins, at least the Democrats like her,” he said.

But even with the support from the Democrats, Lee argued that a Clinton administration would still face a deeply divided government – as the House of Representatives is likely to be controlled by the Republicans.

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“Even if the Democrats control the Senate, the Republicans will filibuster her policy,” he said.

A survey published last week by the Pew Research Center found that only 35 per cent of registered voters said Clinton would make a good or great president, while 45 per cent said she would be poor or terrible.

The numbers are even worse for Trump – with 56 per cent saying that he would be poor or terrible at the job.