The “Student Blog Post” series invites students from my PLS 321: Electoral Process course to author their own blogs about recent election events.
Political knowledge can be defined as the range of information about politics that is stored in long-term memory. Donald Trump’s win in the 2016 Presidential Election can be potentially attributed to those American voters who were less educated. In the beginning, many were surprised as Trump won the Republican nomination, maintained the position as frontrunner position in the polls, and finally winning the 2016 Presidential Election. Polls and media predictions indicated that Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, was going to win the election with no contest. Donald Trump, a businessman who had not previously served in an elected office, was underestimated by Democrats and Republicans alike, vowing to fight for the interests of average Americans who had lost faith in the country’s political leadership.
Donald Trump spent much of this campaign with a focus in rural America, where much of the population was the classed as white with some or no college. With a lack of political knowledge, Donald Trump seemed like a candidate who wouldn’t be bought and corruptible, thinks of the blue-collar America, and disconnected from politics in the sense that Trump actually cared about what the average American thought. With higher education, generally comes an improvement in economic stability. Data statistics for the 2016 Presidential Elections shows that most of Trump’s enthusiastic primary voters were more likely to live in areas with difficult economic conditions. Because Donald Trump is a multi-billionaire, it allowed him to gain leverage over other candidates by giving him the freedom to speak his mind without fear of losing donor support, no matter how controversial the topic. The ability to speak his mind gave him the impression of a straight talker; no one is controlling him and he is a man of his own. Standing out in the presidential campaign allowed Donald Trump to be seemingly invulnerable to the traditional rule of politics. Amusingly, Donald Trump created a toxic image for himself in many of the voter’s eyes, and even getting disapproval ratings among women just because of his competition with Hillary Clinton.
Trump however gained even more political controversy as he started to expatiate publicly racial slurs and comments. In this election cycle, Trump had a long history of racist rhetoric against African-Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans, and Latinos. Many Americans were anxious and concerned about a theoretical threat against immigrants which Trump was able to gain their vote by creating an anti-immigration platform which allowed him to gain more popularity. Although the Republicans believed in a strict immigration policy, many Republicans avoided publicly speaking in order to not offend Latinos. In order to replace the Latino vote with another large minority, Trump was able to replace that percentage with many Caucasian-Americans in middle America. Much of the population was located in the heart of red-state America and dominated swing states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Many of these states were actually more populated overall than urban areas and large amount of unexpected additional voters turned out. The lack of a uniform campaign from Trump’s main rival, Hillary Clinton, also allowed Trump to be able to gain the upper-hand in the presidential election as Clinton advisors stated that they saw no point in spending a couple million dollars on television advertising and campaign travels when Clinton was likely to lose the state. This lack of effort caused Hillary to lose many of the rural states which Trump had put majority of his effort into.
The 2016 Presidential Election, an election cycle that will be remembered for a long time as the two presidential candidates were choices in which many voters had to “choose the lesser evil”. However, Donald Trump, our president-elect was able to win the presidential election due to his ability to win the hearts and minds of rural America as they saw him as a candidate who would vouch for their hardships. He appeared as a candidate, with no political ties; one with the average American despite being a multi-billionaire, who would change the establishment which seemingly no longer cared for the American people, who are the most important. Americans sacrifice democratic ideals and only intervene when corruption and greed is high, a time which appeared in the 2016 Presidential Election.
Kevin Kim is a fourth-year Political Science major who enjoy camping, football, and motorcycle riding. He plans on continuing his career in the US Army after graduating from Cal Poly Pomona.