Both presumptive presidential nominees believe specific narratives will produce victory in November. Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta said that compared to his candidate, Donald Trump “is not prepared” and “lacks the temperament to lead our nation.” On the Republican side, campaign manager Corey Lewandowski summed up Mr. Trump’s message as “People are unhappy with the direction of the country.” Which sentiment will be more powerful at the polls in November?
Mrs. Clinton can look to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll that found 66% of voters think she has the right experience to be president. Thirty-three percent think she does not. Only 26% of voters think Mr. Trump has the right experience, while 73% think he does not. Fifty-eight percent of voters believe Mrs. Clinton has the right temperament to be president and 40% say she does not, while Mr. Trump’s numbers are 25%-72%, respectively.
There are numbers to support Mr. Trump’s perspective as well. A whopping 65% of voters think the country is on the wrong track, according to the RealClearPolitics.com aggregate of national polls, while just 26.6% say the country is moving in the right direction. The number of voters who think the country is headed in the wrong direction has not been below 50% in seven years, so Mr. Trump has been able to tap into anger and frustration voters have been feeling for a long time.
Both narratives will drive the 2016 race. In 25 weeks, we will see if Mrs. Clinton can convince enough voters her experience and temperament are what the country needs or if Mr. Trump can prove he has the nature and ideas needed to be the president who changes the country’s direction.