The Student Blog Post series invites students from my PLS 321: Electoral Process course to author their own blogs about recent election events.
This year’s election has been nothing but a roller coaster ride and has ultimately changed the way we perceive elections. As election day comes closer, we will finally have our answer to who will be the next President of the United States. Republican nominee Donald Trump is currently playing catch-up as he is behind heavily favored Hillary Clinton in most polls. It may sound like a long shot, but Trump still has a legitimate shot at winning this election. According to Trump’s campaign, they are spending an upwards of $25 million on TV ads in the final week looking to turn the tide in key battleground states such as: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Virginia, Nevada and New Hampshire. Trump has to pull a trick out of his sleeve and win a majority of these states in order to capture that elusive number of 270 electoral votes.
Before we can look at the possible ways of what Trump needs to do in order to win this election, we first must take an inside look into voting behavior. Trump must appeal to certain socio-economic groups, which directly relates to the Columbia Model. The Columbia Model found that social group membership is an important determinant of the vote. Hillary is a potentially better fit than Trump because of his obscene comments he has made about women over the past several months.
Do voters even vote rationally? Rational choice is defined as weighing the costs and benefits of voting. In some rational choice models, considerations like the economy, performance of incumbent party, and strength of the incumbent party can help us determine the winner of the election. In theory, this seems like a good idea but we have to assume that voters are aware of the issue and identify the complexities of these issues. In 2016, are voters really educated on what is going on in politics? According to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, only 55% of Americans can successfully identify both conservative or liberal stances on certain issues.
In order for Trump to win he must win all the states that Romney won in 2012 and flip key battleground states that Obama won such as Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Nevada and New Hampshire. He must also lock up both Maine and Nebraskas districts single electoral votes. Another potential scenario that can get Trump to the White House is if African-American turnout is low. According to the early voter turnout in key battleground states, African American voter turnout is lower than it was in 2012. If this trend continues then Trump may have a legitimate shot at winning the White House.
Oscar Silva is a third year mathematics and political science double major. After graduation, he plans to be a high school math teacher and to coach an elite girls basketball program.