By Ronan Manvelian
With summer just around the corner, the presidential election is about to become even more heated. As Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton head into the summer months leading up to the November election, their unpopularity takes center stage. Can their respective choices in running mates help their bid for the presidency? This issue known as the 2016 “veepstakes” is essential to the candidacies of Trump and Clinton, as historical precedent shows that people cast their vote based on the presidential candidate and not the vice presidential candidate.
The biggest obstacle that Trump and Clinton must overcome in the coming months is their public image with voters. Neither candidate is popular across all demographics, and both suffer from strong criticism from both sides of the political aisle. According to a recent CBS/NYT poll, “64% of registered voters felt that Trump and Clinton were not ‘honest and trustworthy’; 66% said Trump doesn’t ‘share their values,’ compared to 60% for Clinton; and 70% [said]Trump does not have the right temperament to be president.”
Clinton’s unpopularity among voters stems from a view that she is untrustworthy and part of the political establishment. The spotlight on her misuse of a private email server while serving as Secretary of State and her subsequent poor handling of the response to the national security concerns increased people’s negative perception towards her. First and foremost, Clinton should focus on a running mate whom voters find trustworthy. Clinton’s choice of running mate will need to help her gain voters’ trust if she hopes to overcome Trump’s momentum. In addition, Joe Velasquez, who is a democratic strategist and Clinton supporter, advocates that she pick a Hispanic running mate in order for her to obtain more votes from swing states like Colorado, Nevada, Florida, and Virginia since these states have large Hispanic populations. This could potentially eliminate the Hispanic vote for Trump and instead bring it into Clinton’s reach, even though polls show that many Hispanic voters already strongly dislike Trump and his policies.
Trump is also unpopular amongst voters and needs a serious political running mate to refute Clinton’s claim that the presidency “is not a reality show . . . it’s really serious.” Trump’s public image has been shaped by his negative comments about women, his exclusionary policies regarding immigrants, and his lack of foreign policy experience. Trump has a large field to choose from as a running mate, including the many former Republican candidate dropouts. Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, for example, may have dropped out from the election in order to support Trump in hopes of becoming his potential running mate. This choice would provide Trump with a seasoned politician on his election platform. Similarly, former contenders Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio could help reframe his policies on immigration. Finally, a possible solution to Trump’s lack of appeal among female voters could be Trump’s choice of a female running mate to help lessen gender attacks against him.
The current state of the political campaigns of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and even last-man-standing Bernie Sanders, this upcoming summer will cause some political fireworks. Political unrest, protests, and potential riots will ensure a scorching political season this summer. In perhaps the most controversial presidential election in recent history, this summer’s political events will surely turn up the heat for Trump and Clinton.