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Student Blog Post: Donald Trump’s victory demonstrates an education and regional divide

The “Student Blog Post” series invites students from my PLS 321: Electoral Process course to author their own blogs about recent election events.

trump fake news knowledge

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.

Student Blog Post: The recount efforts throw legitimacy into question

The “Student Blog Post” series invites students from my PLS 321: Electoral Process course to author their own blogs about recent election events.

recount efforts fake rigged

After three weeks, Donald Trump has won the presidential election, exceeding all our expectations, but the electorate has still not conformed. Trump did the impossible, being the first Republican presidential nominee to win states like Michigan since 1988. Across the country, citizens have rallied, claiming Trump is “not our president”, and Jill Stein (with support from the Clinton campaign) declared they would start recount efforts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

The recounts will be occurring in the states in which President-elect Donald Trump won or is leading by narrow margins. Recounts can change vote counts on the margins, but Trump’s edge of more than 22,000 votes in Wisconsin is all but impossible to eliminate, bearing a massive, unprecedented and unexpected failure of the state’s voting machines. Jill Stein stated that “she knows she won’t win — but she’s concerned enough about hacking of election machines that it’s worth the inquiry.” Each state has their own rules on how they are going to go about the recounts but Trump an advantage in Wisconsin, but also in Michigan where he is leading with 10,704 votes, and Pennsylvania, where he is leading by 70,638 votes.

As we have seen with the 2016 presidential elections voting choices and electoral outcomes can be extremely important in the United States. The formal opportunity to participate in elections serves to convince citizens that the government is responsive to their needs and wishes. As we discussed in class, elections are important because they give citizens an outlet to exercise the power, and elections give the government legitimacy and authority. Elections are also the main form of institutionalized political activity. Meaning that elections are the best way to convey our voices. With the recount, Americans are questioning the government’s legitimacy. With allegations made such as the system is rigged and the possibility that there could be voter hacking it makes us doubt the real outcome of our votes. This state of affairs draws concern: Has this election has been fairly conducted?

It also leads us to wonder if our needs and wishes are being met. The recount does question the legitimacy of the government, but in a way, the recount could put the people’s minds at ease, ultimately finding that the election was fairly conducted. Therefore, the citizenry will stop with the statements that Trump is not our president and accept the election. Elections give us the opportunity to elect who we want and this is what the people have decided. Even though many might not agree, hopefully, this election encourages people to take elections seriously and subsequently, hopefully, voter turnout will increase. Therefore, events like these will not occur again, where individuals feel the need to protest a president-elect.

Mayra Lopez is a fourth year political science major at Cal Poly Pomona. She plans on pursuing a law degree following graduation. She enjoys taking long hikes and playing soccer. Hopes to travel to Rome and Greece someday.

Student Blog Post: Donald Trump has legitimized a Neo-Nazi movement in America

The “Student Blog Post” series invites students from my PLS 321: Electoral Process course to author their own blogs about recent election events.

alt right trump reddit memes frog

There has been a deep and distributing rise in hateful and discriminatory language coming from the so-called “alt right”. Many say that this rise is in direct correlation to the election of Donald Trump and it is not hard to see why this may be true. Since Donald Trump’s shocking victory on November 8th, there has been a soaring increase in reported hate crimes across the United States. The Southern Poverty Law Center has reported about 700 cases of hateful harassment or intimidation since the election. Similarly, the FBI estimates that since the election of Donald Trump, hate crimes have risen in the United States by about 67 percent, with most of the hate crimes being directed towards Muslim Americans.

Identity Politics is now once again front in center in the discussion as to how different groups of people should have the right, or not, to further their cause (whatever that cause may be). Conservatives continue to blame liberals for this, saying that Neo-Nazism is on the rise in America because the left has embraced identity politics. Nonetheless, I think it is important to note that even before the results of this election, people who believed in this type of discriminatory behavior were already in this country. The rise of Donald Trump is not responsible for creating Neo-Nazis, but it is in fact responsible for giving such groups a platform on which they can make their voices heard. Much of the rhetoric during Donald Trump’s campaign is another source at fault. Trump’s anti-immigration and anti-Muslim sentiment during the campaign has given a sense of legitimacy to people who desire to espouse similar beliefs. We now see that discriminatory groups are no longer scared to voice their ideology out in the open, for they believe the results of the election have given them validation that they did not have before. It is also very troubling to see how the media has handled this. The media continues to refer to Neo-Nazis and similar groups as “alt right”, which in a sense, ends up normalizing this type of behavior instead of combating it.

As discussed in class, ideological divides within the electorate stem from the IPP. Because of this, people tend to be influenced based on 3 things; region, religion, and class. In this situation, the rise of hateful groups can be attributed to the regional aspect. Much (but not all) of the people who tend to espouse an ideology similar to that of Neo-Nazism tend to reside in rural America, with less diversity, where most don’t have any meaningful relationships with people who look differently than they do. This in-group bias leads many to have negative sentiments towards people who are different.

Antonio Navarrete is a fifth year Accounting Major with a Minor in Political Science at Cal Poly Pomona. He enjoys going to music festivals, playing video games, and traveling. He plans on obtaining his CPA certification in the near future and also plans to work as an auditor at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP after graduation.

Student Blog Post: Abolishing the Electoral College would lead to chaos

The “Student Blog Post” series invites students from my PLS 321: Electoral Process course to author their own blogs about recent election events.

electoral college recount scam trump rigged

In the short history of the United States, we have had four elections where the candidate who won the popular vote did not win the presidency. One of those elections happened just two weeks ago (and the third only 16 years ago with Al Gore and George W. Bush). It has been two weeks since the shock of the 2016 election, where Donald Trump won the majority of the electoral vote. Much of the electorate was shocked due to their hope that Hillary Clinton would win. Days after the election, many people (mostly in liberal states) protested Trump’s victory. The protest went on for many days, however now that it has been two weeks since the election, people are still not happy with the election outcome and are fighting for a change.

Some of the electorate is trying to persuade their electors to be “faithless”, meaning that they won’t cast their electoral vote for Trump, even if a majority of the state voted for him. A petition has been made on Change.org to encourage faithless electors to vacate their support for Trump, claiming that president–elect Donald Trump is a “danger to the Republic”. As of right now, 4.6 million people have signed the petition. From inside the political world, California Senator Barbara Boxer proposed a bill to abolish the Electoral College in response to Clinton’s loss. She stated,

“In my lifetime, I have seen two elections where the winner of the general election did not win the popular vote…The Electoral College is an outdated, undemocratic system that does not reflect our modern society, and it needs to change immediately. Every American should be guaranteed that their vote counts.”

Even though this bill is a long shot to actually becoming reality since the Republican Party holds the House and Senate, it demonstrates that the Electoral College is under real scrutiny since the election.

Many don’t see Donald Trump as their president simply because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. However, the Electoral College was made by the Framers to prevent the public to vote for their home state heroes and to have a fair election, but now, the College no longer deals with that issue. Now, the Electoral College is there to keep the election fair but now gives smaller states a chance to make an impact in the election. In the article, Electoral College Watch by Gary L. Gregg, the author explains why the College was made and what is the new purpose of the College. Gregg argues that keeping the College is crucial to our democracy. After the election, many are enraged with the Electoral College because the electorate does not see the College as a proper representation of the electorate.

However, since the Electoral College gives greater weight to  smaller states, it forces candidates to campaign in those states. If we think of a system without the Electoral College, candidates would just campaign in big urban cities that are already predominately liberal. The Republican Party would also struggle to win votes if the electoral process was just dependent on the popular vote. Abolishing the College, as Gregg said in his article, would “dismantle the firewalls protecting us all from a quadrennial national nightmare that would turn over our elections to lawyers and judges.” Abolishing the Electoral College would also put full dependency on the electorate, and as stated in lecture, most of the population isn’t politically knowledgeable because they don’t have time for politics. Essentially, chaos would break out.

Gracie Salazar is a fourth- year political science major who plans on pursuing a law degree and eventually work for the district attorney office someday. She enjoys her Sunday mornings being a Sunday school teacher at her local church-teaching children aged 4-6.