A Shift in the Nation’s Political Climate

Joanna Harlow

40 years ago, in the fall of 1975, Georgia Governor, Jimmy Carter was unknown and polled last among Democrats running for President.  In November 1976, Carter, the underdog and long shot candidate, won the Presidency of the United States, easily defeating incumbent Gerald Ford.  

The latest Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register Iowa Poll indicates that voters may once again be ready to challenge veteran politicians and shift the political climate.



Democratic and Republican polls in August 2015  indicate that Americans  strongly support the less obvious and lesser- known candidates in the race.

“We are the underdog. But I think we’re making progress,” said Democratic candidate, Bernie Sanders in an interview with NPR on June 10. According to the polls, it seems that being an underdog might be an advantage in the race for the 2016 Presidential nomination.

In last week’s Wisconsin Democratic Party Convention Poll, Sanders ranked just nine points behind Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

Sanders, a Vermont senator, has risen quickly, utilizing a grassroots organizing campaign. A self-proclaimed socialist and advocate for a single-payer national healthcare system, Sanders has gained unlikely ground considering his polarizing ticket.

The underdog trend is evident even on the Republican front, with Donald Trump, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina leading the national NBC/ Marist poll.


None of the three candidates have ever held office. Presidential hopefuls like Trump, Fiorina and Carson have tapped into a strong anti-Washington sentiment among Republican voters.

“It’s a reflection of the fact that roughly 80 percent of the American people now think we have a professional political class that cares more about its own power and privilege and position than on getting anything done,” Fiorina said Aug. 16  on Radio AM 970 in New York.  

The anti-establishment attitude which has made candidates like Trump popular with voters has veteran politicians like former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker struggling to prove themselves as true endorsers of change in Washington.

The polls may indicate a strong desire by Americans for political change and a shifting away from well-known political figures.  In 1976,  Jimmy Carter was able to win the hearts of a public who were disillusioned by the political mess of the Watergate scandal.

Today’s public appears equally tired of veteran politicos who have family dynasties, legacies of corruption and murky histories.


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