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Trump and Clinton 'least popular and least trusted' candidates in the history of American elections

By Claire Williamson in Washington

Out of many, one - the motto of America. Washington DC is not only home to the most famous address in the world - it is also the heart of democracy in the US.

The White House stands proudly on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, not hidden away, but close to the public.

And as election day draws near, there is an inescapable feeling of anticipation.

The front of the building is a hive of industry with construction work ongoing as preparations start for the inauguration ceremony for the new President.

Outside the gates, people in their droves arrive in a bid to get their coveted picture - and this week is even more historic.

The new resident will be either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, and we are just days from finding out who will emerge victorious. Washington is enshrined with patriotism, from the Lincoln Memorial, to the Washington Monument which towers over the city, and people are passionate when they speak about their democratic system.

But there is a feeling of uneasiness as people are concerned about the potential for unrest following the election result. An indication came recently with Trump suggesting he may not accept the result if Clinton wins.

Mo Elleithee, a former top advisor to Clinton, said that while the 2008 election was considered as the election of hope, in 2016 election it could be seen as the "election of fear". The consensus among some political observers is that Hillary could emerge victorious as the path required for Trump to triumph is much more narrow -but the polls are now starting to tighten.

But in an election which is on course to be the most expensive in history - there are predictions of around $6bn - and dominated by claims of "public distrust" and described as "unprecedented", if Hillary wins, she will start as the "least popular President elected in history". Mr Elleithee, who is now the executive director at Georgetown University Institute of Politics, said Trump and Clinton are viewed as "flawed messengers of the right message". But he expects there to be a record turnout of voters on Tuesday. "These are the two least popular, least trusted candidates in the history of polling," he said.

"Hillary will be the least popular President elected in American history and will be granted very little of a honeymoon period."

But what do the American people think?

The election is everywhere - from constant rolling news coverage, to television ads, to memorabilia on street corners.

There are street stalls cashing in with humorous slogans and more serious collector's items adorning gift shops - you can even purchase cardboard cut-outs of the candidates you desire.

Despite the apathy among some - Washington Post senior political editor Steven Ginsberg said that "60-65% of Americans dislike both candidates" - there is still positivity among voters for both candidates.

One woman who lives in Washington told the Belfast Telegraph: "Outside of the qualifications, I think Hillary Clinton is going to do the best job for our country. She has the relationships, she has the experience, she has the fortitude, the stamina, she is a leader, she is a great diplomat."

One woman from Indiana who was working in Washington said she was voting for Trump, but said she had a tough time weighing up the pros and cons.

She said: "I don't know which one would do any better. I think with Hillary we've already had Bill in there. I'm going to vote for Trump because Hillary, I just don't think she is fair."

Speaking with a lot of experts in DC, their verdicts were unanimous that the 2016 election is "unprecedented".

One of the questions the rest of the world has been asking is couldn't America do better than these two candidates?

Senior fellow at Brooklands Institution John Hudak had a direct answer to this. He said the onus had to be thrown back to the American people.

Mr Hudak added: "The answer is no if people aren't coming to the poll during primaries. If more people came to the polls we could have two different candidates - we would at least have one different candidate.

"The people who turned out got the candidates they wanted."

Belfast Telegraph


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