BOSTON—Young Americans are so dissatisfied with their choices in this presidential election that nearly one in four told an opinion poll they would rather have a giant meteor destroy the Earth than see Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in the White House.
The tongue-in-cheek question was intended to gauge the level of unhappiness of young Americans about their choices in the Nov. 8 election, according to Joshua Dyck, a director of UMass Lowell’s Center for Public Opinion, which conducted the poll alongside Odyssey Millennials.
The choice alluded to the Twitter hashtag “#GiantMeteor2016,” a reference to an imaginary presidential candidate used to express frustration about this year’s election choices.
Earth’s annihilation
Some 53 percent of the 1,247 people aged 18 to 35 said they would prefer to see a meteor destroy the world than have Republican nominee Trump, a  New York real estate developer, in the Oval Office.
A third of the respondents (34 percent) preferred planetary annihilation to seeing Democratic candidate Clinton, a former US Secretary of State, win the presidential election.
A total of 39 percent said they would prefer that US President Barack Obama declare himself president for life than hand over power to Clinton or Trump, with 26 percent saying the nation would do better to select its next leader in a random lottery.
Nearly one in four respondents (23 percent) preferred the giant meteor outcome to either Trump or Clinton.
“Obviously, we don’t think that they’re serious,” Dyck said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “The fact that one in four of our young people pick ‘Giant Meteor’ tells you something about the political disaffection that is being shown by American youth.”
That contrasted with the surge of participation by young voters that helped propel Obama into the White House for his first term in the 2008 election.
Clinton over Trump
When asked to choose between the actual candidates, Clinton easily led Trump with 54 percent of respondents to 21 percent in a two-way race.
In a four-way race also including Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Clinton led with 48 percent support, to Trump’s 20 percent, Johnson’s 10 percent and Stein’s 4 percent.
In national polls surveying the whole population, Clinton is leading Trump, but not by nearly as much.
The poll, conducted on Oct. 10-13, intentionally included a large number of people seen as unlikely to vote, with just 680 described as likely voters. It had a margin of error of 3.2 percent.
While most grown-ups are a few weeks away from heading to the polls, more than 150,000 of the nation’s schoolchildren have already voted on who they want to be president.
Scholastic said Clinton took 52 percent of its 2016 Student Vote, while Trump won 35 percent of the ballots.
The company said 13 percent of students wrote in “other” choices, which it says is an unusually high number.
The student vote has been a fairly accurate predictor of the actual election over the years. Scholastic said it has mirrored the results in every election since 1940, with the exception of election years 1948 and 1960.
Kindergartners through 12th graders were allowed to cast ballot, but Scholastic acknowledged the student vote wasn’t a scientifically designed sample. —Wire reports

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