Voters Concerned About “Rigged” System Heading into Election Day

Voters Concerned About “Rigged” System Heading into Election Day

While Hillary Clinton still holds a sizeable lead over Donald Trump in the race for President, the majority of Americans appear to agree with Trump’s assertions that our nation’s political system is “rigged” and view Trump as the candidate most likely to bring change to the country. These are among the key findings from the inaugural University of Maryland Critical Issues Poll released Tuesday, November 1st.

Conducted October 5–14 of this year, the Critical Issues Poll included questions on a variety of subjects related to the upcoming elections including political process, race, gender, foreign affairs and terrorism. The UMD poll shows Clinton roughly 9 percentage points ahead of Trump in the presidential race, in line with other polls nationally. A vast majority (78 percent) of all respondents indicated they wanted to see significant change to the American political system “very much,” yet when asked which candidate was more likely to bring political change, respondents selected Trump over Clinton 52 percent to 31 percent.

“Donald Trump is definitely seen as the agent of change in the presidential race but whether or not that translates into votes for him is an open question as we head down the final stretch to Election Day,” said Shibley Telhami, Director of the UMD Critical Issues Poll. “Part of the reason is that many people don’t see the change Trump would bring as beneficial for the country. Only 24 percent of the people we polled said Trump would bring about change for the better while 44 percent indicated he would bring change for the worse. Still about a quarter say they don’t know if the change Trump would bring is positive or negative. Does this segment of the public want change badly enough to roll the dice?”

The Critical Issues Poll also finds that a majority of voters lack confidence in the American political system and in the election process itself. Sixty five percent of respondents on both sides of the political aisle said they agreed with the sentiment that “our system is rigged against people like me.”

“Throughout his campaign, Trump has advanced the idea that the political system is ‘rigged’ against the American public and he has not definitively stated that he will accept the election results on November 8th,” said Stella Rouse, Associate Director of the UMD Critical Issues Poll and Director of the UMD Center for American Politics and Citizenship. “Results from our poll show the majority of both Republicans and Democrats lack confidence in the 
American political process.”

The poll also finds that while most Americans agree that race relations are bad in the country, they are split along partisan lines as to which candidate can better heal the divide.

On foreign policy issues, the poll probed American attitudes toward the Syrian conflict, the fight against the “Islamic State” (ISIS), and the degree to which Americans wanted to see Russian-American cooperation. While Americans dislike Russian President Vladimir Putin (and Democrats name him as the most disliked leader), they express the view that the United States government should put aside its differences with Russia and work more with it to defeat ISIS. At the same time, a majority of Americans do not support a large scale deployment of ground troops in Iraq and Syria to defeat ISIS.

For more details on the poll’s results, visit

About the UMD Critical Issues Poll
The University of Maryland Critical Issues Poll is an initiative of the Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development and the Center for American Politics and Citizenship in cooperation with the Joint Program in Survey Methodology. The survey was conducted October 5-14, 2016 with a panel consisting of a probability-based representative sample. The panel was recruited by Nielsen Scarborough from its larger probability-based national panel, which was recruited by mail and telephone using a random sample of households provided by Survey Sampling International. A total of 1528 panelists completed the survey. Responses were weighted by age, gender, income, education, race, and geographic region using benchmarks from the US Census. The survey was also weighted by partisan identification. The margin of error is 2.5 percent.

November 2, 2016

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