I think the current crisis of American politics is the inability to fit three radically different political movements—for change in our capitalist system (Bernie Sanders), for change in our democratic system (Donald Trump, Ted Cruz) and defenders of the status quo (Hillary Clinton, John Kasich).
Evidently voters see things differently. Recent Pew Research polls, summarized in the chart above, show that the opinions of American voters on most issues are divided very clearly along party lines.
I was surprised that fewer Sanders supporters said they are angry at the government than are supporters of any of the Republican candidates.
I was not surprised that Trump supporters are more united in opposition to free trade than supporters of any other faction, but I was surprised that Sanders supporters favor free trade in almost the same numbers as Clinton supporters.
The only big difference among the candidates that overlaps party lines is that more Sanders and Trump supporters think that U.S. global involvement makes things worse than Clinton, Cruz or Kasich supporters do.
I don’t think differences among voters are necessarily reflected in policies of candidates.
I don’t have any confidence that Trump would reduce American global involvement. The one consist theme in his foreign policy pronouncements is that the United States should go it alone without concern for allies’ views (except maybe Israel’s)
He reminds me of Republicans during the Korean Conflict who would switch back and forth from advocating withdrawal from Korea to ending the conflict by use of nuclear weapons.
Bernie Sanders is less warlike than Hillary Clinton, but his criticisms of overall U.S. military intervention are very mild.
The issue that Pew found that voters were most agreed upon was keeping Social Security benefits at current levels, but Cruz and Kasich have said they’d look at raising the retirement age or other benefit reductions.
Another thing that surprised me is that the Republicans are more discontented with the status quo than Democrats. Although the question asked for a 50-year perspective, it may reflect the fact that the USA is coming to the end of the second term of a Democratic President.
But these results indicate that Clinton is definitely the candidate of the status quot and Trump is definitely the candidate of the discontented. I don’t think perception is reality in this case. The Trump family, the Clinton family, the Bush family and Henry Kissinger are all part of the same rich celebrity social circles, and I don’t think a President Trump would go against the wishes of Wall Street or the Pentagon.
Another interesting result. More voters see Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton as good or great Presidents than any of the others. More voters see Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as poor or terrible Presidents than any of the others.
Only 38 percent of Republican voters told Pew they’d “solidly unite” behind a Trump candidacy.
Campaign Exposes Divisions Over Issues, Values and How Life Has Changed in the U.S. by Pew Research Center.
Sanders and Trump Voters Are More Skeptical of War Than Clinton, Cruz Voters by Zaid Jilani for The Intercept.