Discontent with elected officials is not a new phenomenon, and job approval ratings for U.S. Congress have declined from its peak at 84 percent in October 2001 to 11 percent in November 2015.
Kifer said candidates in the presidential election are focusing on how they can bring new ideas to the White House in order to play into these frustrations.
“People want to project confidence on issues and they also want to cast themselves as something different often than what’s going on in Washington, D.C. and that happens with some frequency," he said.
Ferrel Guillory, a UNC journalism professor and director of the Program on Public Life, said he also sees voters' political frustration as a reason for the success of non-politicians in this campaign.
“I think Carson and Trump are much more products of an emerging discontent with people who feel that the country has departed from the tough-minded values that they think it stands for — it’s kind of an uprising of discontent,” he said.
Ilsa Luther, a UNC junior, emphasized the need for new political ideas to facilitate substantive political change.
“Political experience definitely matters, but I think today, it’s more important to have a fresh look on things because I definitely think we need to change a lot that’s going on in our political system," she said. "So if you come in with all these fresh new ideas as opposed to someone with a lot of experience but who’s doing the same old thing, I think it’s a lot more valuable."
But Garrett Pearce, a first-year, said the value of new ideas and experience depends upon an individual candidate. Regardless, he said progressive ideas are always the most important.
“A candidate can be really experienced and have ideas that I disagree with, but I think new progressive ideas are something I can get behind no matter how experienced the candidate is."