Donald Trump+Hillary Clinton

By John Wildermuth and Joe Garofoli
July 30, 2016
Updated: July 30, 2016 – 6:28pm

PHILADELPHIA — With the primary elections long past and the partisan cheers of July’s party conventions fading away, it’s “game on” for presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

And both candidates have to plot a course to victory while most American voters don’t much like either of them. Trump is viewed unfavorably by a startling 57 percent of American voters, according to the RealClearPolitics poll of polls. But Clinton fares just a tick better, at 56 percent.

“The next president could be the candidate voters dislike the least,” said Tony Quinn, a former GOP consultant who now edits the nonpartisan California Target Book. “There is a lot of unhappiness out there.”

But the just-concluded conventions provide clear signs of the very different paths Trump and Clinton hope to take to victory on Nov. 8, just 100 days away.

In a gloomy jeremiad to the Republican delegates at their Cleveland convention, Trump painted a picture of America as a fearful country on the brink, threatened by disasters of its current leaders’ making.

“Our convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation,” the New York City developer said. “The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities, threaten our very way of life. Any politician who does not grasp this danger is not fit to lead our country.”

Clinton talked of a country on the rise after years of troubles.

Native Pittsburgher Mark Cuban uses a local insult to rip Trump while endorsing Hilllary Clinton at a rally in Pittsburgh
Media: Joe Garofoli / San Francisco Chronicle

“We are clear-eyed about what our country is up against,” the former secretary of state said. “But we are not afraid. We will rise to the challenge as we always have.”

Those competing views of America are likely to dominate the fall campaign, said Henry Brady, dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley.

“Clinton must acknowledge that people are feeling angry and then turn lemons into lemonade,” he said. “Trump has focused on the lemons.”

The question for Trump, though, is whether fear is enough to win an election, Brady said.

“Is there an upper limit?” he asked. This year, “some voters are so propelled by fear and anger that they’re just glad to have a candidate who will make major changes.”

If the angry GOP conservatives at the Republican convention and the disappointed progressives who backed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination are both calling for a president who will blow up the political status quo, a candidate looking to win has to bend to that prevailing breeze.

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