The Student Blog Post series invites students from my PLS 321: Electoral Process course to author their own blogs about recent election events.
For the 2016 election, the presidential debates between Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump have been more like two kids insulting each other on the playground. This has set the tone for the entire election season so far. They have also set the tone for the first and only vice president debate, which was held Tuesday, October 4 between Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence.
Yes, we know that the vice-presidential candidates have been massively overshadowed by their larger-than-life running mates. The truth is they still are over shadowed. In the debate, the vice-presidential candidates had their chance to show how they would help the country. Yet, they used one chance to attack each other. The candidates commonly did not answer the question and the debates were more a practice of evasion.
Democrat Tim Kaine, the Democratic contender, was tough and aggressive, sometimes even nasty. Interestingly enough, that’s the role Donald Trump is usually expected to play. Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate, came across as reasonable and experienced, which is usually supposed to be Hillary Clinton’s role. At first, Pence appeared to be frustrated with Kaine, whose interruptions dominated the flow of discussion. This almost mirrored how Trump interrupted Clinton in the first debate. Kaine had strong points, particularly in his relentless attacks on Trump. But because of Kaines constant interruptions, Pence may have elicited more sympathy from voters. Pence also defended himself well and refused to allow Kaine to drive a wedge between himself and Donald Trump. Pence presented himself as cool, logical, and collected. These traits have been associated as presidential.
The bottom line is that if Americans were only choosing between Kaine and Pence, Pence would have a good chance of winning. But voting for Trump is seen to be far more difficult choice for Americans. Pence came across as a man of honor and decency. Those are qualities few US voters associate with Donald Trump.
What factors are taken into account when choosing a winner for a debate? Do the debates really change the mind of the voter? According to the Michigan studies, voters have a longstanding affiliation to political party. From what the media has been reporting, they have said that many Republican voters are not voting for Trump due to his controversial remarks. This is contrary to our expectations of the Michigan Model. The real problem is there are so many other factor that are taken into account when voters choose a candidate. There is really no way for one formula to determine how someone will vote. The truth is crazy things can happen and change things drastically; there is no way we can predict the future we will just have to wait and see.
Ashley Mishaan is a junior and political science major at Cal Poly Pomona.