Harambe Helps to Show Voters’ Disdain for Trump and Clinton
In a poll released by Public Policy Polling (PPP) on Saturday, “independent presidential candidate” Harambe earned 5% against Hillary Clinton (48%) and Donald Trump (43%). Harambe, a gorilla which had lived in the Cincinnati Zoo, earned fame in May after being killed. The 17-year-old Western lowland gorilla was shot after a three-year-old child fell into its enclosure. A zoo worker, fearing for the child’s life, decided to shoot the gorilla.
While most Americans understood the decision to kill the animal in that instance, some animal rights activists believed the shooting unnecessary. A petition on Change.org entitled “Justice for Harambe” contains over 500,000 signatures. Additionally, the gorilla has sparked dozens of internet memes.
This is not the first time PPP has pulled such a stunt. In December, the company asked Americans whether they believed the US should bomb Agrabah, the fictional city from Disney’s Aladdin. Surprisingly, 30% of Republicans and 19% of Democrats thought this to be a good idea.
Two major takeaways can be examined from this poll. First of all, Americans have not yet begun paying close attention to the November election, and may not do so for a few more months. Second, voters have a serious desire for a third-party candidate in 2016.
As to the first point, it is unsurprising that Americans remain rather disengaged thus far. With summer winding down, most are too busy enjoying the last bits of their summer and spending time with their kids before school starts. In September and October, political news will become of more importance. In the meantime, most developments are white noise to a majority of the country.
Secondly, the fact that 5% of those polled selected Harambe points to a real distaste among the electorate for the two major-party candidates. While it remains difficult to know how many of those answering did so in jest, the poll is only the latest indication that Americans have no love lost for Trump and Clinton.
This sentiment opens the door for the Libertarian ticket of Gary Johnson and William Weld. The duo has thus far performed the best of any LP ticket in American history, polling as high as 13% in a mid-July CNN poll. The “magic number” for Johnson and Weld is 15%, which would allow them to take part in the national debates. In a separate poll conducted by PPP, Johnson earned 6%, while Green Party candidate Jill Stein earned only 2%.
However, the decision of who participates in the debates remains solely in the hands of the Commission on Presidential Debates. Accordingly, Johnson joined a lawsuit against the commission which claims violation of anti-trust laws. The suit demands that all candidates able to win the election be included in the debates. Success in this lawsuit would allow for the inclusion of Johnson and Stein.
The lawsuit notwithstanding, the Libertarians are poised to qualify for all 50 state ballots. This is the first time a third-party has accomplished as much since the LP did so in 2000. Additionally, the presidential ticket is the first to feature two former governors since the Republicans ran Thomas Dewey and Earl Warren in 1948. These distinctions suggest that if the Libertarians can get the opportunity to appear before a national audience, they could quickly contend.
While in the past, third-parties have polled well early before disappearing in November, this year seems different. The chosen nominees are among the most unpopular in American history. If not for the unpopularity of the other, each would have seemingly no chance at winning. Though Harambe will not appear on the ballot, Johnson and Stein have an opportunity to make history.