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Student Blog Post: Donald Trump’s victory explained

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

 

The 2016 United States Presidential Election fell on November 8, 2016. That day should not be defined as a normal election. After an unusual and unorthodox campaign, many polls and pundits saw a strong likelihood that Hillary Clinton would end the day becoming the first woman to be elected President of the United States. Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight gave a final projection of Clinton having a 71.4% chance of winning the presidency, compared to 28.6% for Donald Trump. Yet, election night ended with a big upset that defied a large majority of the polls, with Donald Trump being elected President of the United States, despite a popular vote win for Hillary Clinton, causing frustration and anger among many Americans. While many would view the Electoral College as an unfair voting system, they should understand that the Electoral College does serve a good purpose.

The Electoral College does in some ways make the United States more of a democracy than without it. The Founding Fathers wanted to have such a system to protect the minority from the majority. With an Electoral College, it allows different segments of the American population to have a voice in presidential elections. It gives the small rural population a voice in the electoral process, as urban centers have been very powerful culturally and economically. Without the Electoral College, the interests of rural voters likely would have been ignored, as candidates would then only have the incentive to focus on metropolitan voters, whom would have had complete political power. Thus, the Electoral College forces candidates for the presidency to campaign and extend their appeal beyond the powerful urban base. For example, the 2000 election demonstrated that only appealing to the electorate in secular and concentrated cities would have been enough for Al Gore to win the national popular vote. In that election, Gore won 71% of the vote in major cities compared to 26% for George W. Bush, while Bush won 59% of the rural vote compared to 37% for Gore.

As presidential candidates need to appeal to multiple segments of the American voting population, it gave Donald Trump the opportunity to focus his campaign on appealing to the anger and frustrations of working class voters in the Rust Belt, assuming he could hold on to traditionally red states, which he did. With Trump having a key message about bringing back manufacturing jobs that left the United States as the result of trade deals such as NAFTA, which was signed under Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton ended up losing in the key swing state of Ohio, along with traditional blue states such as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. These three states, which were in the so-called “blue wall” that was critical for Clinton to win, last voted Republican in the 1980s prior to the 2016 election. Clinton had controversies, such as being viewed as untrustworthy and as a global elitist deeply tied to Wall Street. Other problems that loomed over Clinton throughout her campaign included her use of a private email server as Secretary of State and her handling of the Benghazi attack. Despite the release of a tape of Trump making lewd and explicit comments about women and the sexual assault accusations that followed only weeks before the general election, his supporters didn’t seem to care, as Trump has gotten away with nearly every controversy he faced throughout his presidential campaign. Around the same time, Clinton had new problems of her own to deal with, as WikiLeaks released the emails of Clinton campaign manager John Podesta in which revealed discussions within the Clinton campaign about taking foreign money contributions, and revealed Clinton’s speeches to Wall Street in which she expressed her dream of “open trade and open borders.” In addition, FBI director James Comey reopened the investigation into Clinton’s email server. With Clinton’s problems, she also failed to energize large portions of voters who supported Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primaries. Sanders campaigned in the primaries against the status quo, against the establishment, and against free trade, which Trump also did. While the Democratic primaries against Sanders led Clinton to adopt some policy proposals pushed by Sanders such as college affordability, Clinton focused more of the general election campaign on Trump being unfit for the presidency, thus failing to energize Sanders supporters. With Clinton lacking a strong reason to be enthusiastic for her campaign, combined with Trump’s strong appeals and passionate supporters, Trump supporters had a stronger incentive to go out and vote on election day, as voting is costly in terms of time and lost wages, in addition to the importance of weighing the benefits of wanting a certain party or candidate to win.

Allen Cheung is a 4th year History Major with a Political Science minor at Cal Poly Pomona. He enjoys surfing the Internet, hanging out with friends, playing video games, and watching TV. He is undecided on his future, but is hoping to become famous one day.

Student Blog Post: Trump’s election brings uncertainty and protests

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

trump safe space

There have been numerous protests all over the country since the recent 2016 presidential. As most people know by now, Donald Trump will be our next president and the country is extremely divided because of it. One key fact is that 49.6 percent of the country did not vote. It seems evident that people were simply not interested in voting for the two candidates running. However, there is a strong collection of citizens across the country that are united in anger of President-elect Donald Trump’s victory.

The reality of this election is that while votes have not been fully counted, it seems that Hillary Clinton will win the popular vote by a wide margin. And while that doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things, it does mean that there are more people upset about Trump’s victory than people who are happy. This is one explanation for the protests that are going on in the country. A lot of people don’t like the Electoral College. People who are protesting across the country feel that “we the people” have spoken, and that the popular vote should be all we ever need to have a president be elected into office. Anyone who votes for a candidate will feel disappointed when his or her candidate loses an election. However, this country has seen five presidential elections with the candidate winning the popular vote losing the election. And to put more of twist on this, it has happened twice within the last twenty years. Both candidates losing happen to be from the Democratic Party: Al Gore in 2000 and now Hillary Clinton in 2016. The Electoral College, in many people’s eyes, is an institution that needs to be put to rest. And this is an idea that is supported by the many protestors marching the streets in America for the past week.

Love him or hate him, Trump has run a very controversial campaign over the past year and a half. He has used a lot of rhetoric that has offended people across the board. Hispanics, Muslims, women, and many other groups of people have all taken offense to Trumps comments and rhetoric used throughout his campaign. And therefore, we are seeing such a major backlash post-election. Not too long ago, during the 2012 presidential election, we saw Republican candidate Mitt Romney lose a lot of momentum in the race for the infamous “47 percent” comment. In a very controversial video, we saw him essentially say that 47 percent of the country is looking for handouts from the government. And that comment damaged his run for president and ultimately lost him the election. When you fast forward four years to our 2016 election and compare his so called “horrible statement” to the kinds of statements that have been said by Donald Trump, well, it just kind of makes you think. Our country has brutally become numb to the rhetoric that Trump has used over this year and a half of campaigning. His rhetoric has been filled with hate, prejudice, bigotry, and objectification of women and that didn’t stop him from winning. When you look back at some of the so-called “horrible statements” said by politicians and compare them to Trump’s statements, it’s hard to not get the feeling that we have taken a step back. And that’s why these protestors are marching. They may not be able to change the outcome of the election, but they are trying to take steps forward in a situation where they feel that our country has taken a step back.

Andre Newman is a fourth-year political science major at Cal poly Pomona. He enjoys writing as a freelance poet and performing spoken word poetry for local churches. He plans on a long-term career as a firefighter in LA City after he graduates.

Student Blog Post: The 2016 presidential question casts serious doubts on the Electoral College

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 banish

A sequence of articles written by Timothy Noah titled America’s Worst College argues for the elimination of the Electoral College. The author brings up valid points about presidential nominees paying more attention to the “swing states” such as Florida instead of heavily populated states like California. Noah further analyzed the claim that small states would have no say without the college and found that many of the small states with only three votes do not get many presidential visits, that in fact the college is not doing much to benefit them. Additionally, the Electoral College has overstated the margin of victory in most elections. However, opponents of the getting rid of the Electoral College claim that this method reduces recount possibilities, as there is a limited number of states to be recounted.

A series of articles was also written to defend the Electoral College by Gary L. Gregg titled The Electoral College is Good for America. In these articles, he further elaborates on these points, arguing for the College. The writer states that if we didn’t have the electoral system the way it is, presidential candidates would ask for recounts across the nation, leading to chaos. He further goes onto express how our system was set up by our Founding Fathers and has been working for centuries. It has never failed us and doesn’t need fixing. The Electoral College serves to exaggerate the margin of victory, helping stabilize and legitimize the government. The author also mentions a very interesting idea that eliminating the College would lead to more polarization within the parties and potentially would leave out rural areas of America that are less densely populated.

A week ago, America voted for president-elect, Donald Trump, into office. However, the popular vote and the electoral vote reflect two different outcomes and people are outraged, and in my opinion, rightly so. The majority of voters wanted Hilary Clinton in office, but because of the electoral design, that fact does not matter. Many things have been established to protect minorities against majority oppression but what happens to democracy when the minorities are allowed to oppress the majorities? How undemocratic can we be?

Many petitions have begun to be circulated online, collecting signatures, calling for the end of the College, with those collected ranging from 500,000 to 4.3 million. There are several people rallying against Trump, and it is being done by protest and by petition. But what will happen when the issues of this election die down? Will the people forget and the College be allowed to stay?

Well, the Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer of California, entered legislation addressing the Electoral College. The bill suggests abolishing the College by amending the Constitution, and if passed by Congress, would go into effect 7 to 8 years after ¾ of the states ratified it. But Tuesday November 8, 2016 also determined that we would have a Republican controlled House and Senate, so the passage of this bill is highly unlikely as the electoral system currently benefits the Republican Party. I do not think that it is right to amend Trump’s victory, but I do think that Electoral College itself should be given more attention to avoid similar situations as this election.

The reasons for establishing the college back in the time of the Founding Father are outdated and simply not reason enough to keep it today. The people that voted for Trump voted for him because they are tired of these career politicians like Hilary Clinton, but that is exactly what the College does, keeps power within the hands of elites. The Electoral College diminishes the power and effect of people’s vote and resigns it to the electors. The fact that faithless electors can virtually decide the outcome, without real sanctions, is unreasonable. The fact that an elector named Robert Satiacum in the state of Washington announced he would be voting for Trump, regardless of what the people of the state wanted is downright scary. Many make the argument that they don’t vote because their vote does not matter and under the Electoral College in the state of California, they have a very real argument. One vote should mean one vote, but under this antiquated system, it doesn’t.

Reyna Mendoza is a fourth-year political science major at Cal Poly Pomona. 

 

Student Blog Post: Donald Trump’s victory highlights the debate over the Electoral College

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

Trump winner election rigged President elect

On November 8, 2016, Donald John Trump was officially elected the 45th president of the United States. Winning 279 electoral votes, this election has personified the importance the electoral process in many ways. This nomination was secured through the support of former Democratic states, now voting Republican. By securing electoral votes in states like Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania he was able to gain more electoral votes than Hilary Clinton. However, in regards to the popular vote, Hilary Clinton currently has 47.7% of the vote whereas her opponent only holds slightly less at 47.5% of the vote. When comparing the electoral votes, it appears that Trump was able to acquire this victory at a larger margin than Hilary Clinton. He received 279 electoral votes, whereas Clinton only received 228.

The Electoral College plays a huge role in the election. Each state is awarded a proportional number or electors; these electors are awarded in a winner take all in all states except for Nebraska and Maine. When citizens cast their vote, they are not voting directly for their president, but are voting for which candidate will receive their state electoral votes. The Electoral College then votes for the president. The Electoral College is composed of 538 electors who cast votes, with the candidate receiving the majority of the votes (270) is elected president.

Had there been no Electoral College, this election would have yielded the first female elected president. Prior to this election, there have been other instances where the winner of the popular vote did not win the election, the most recent being the presidential election of 2000. Al Gore won the popular vote by .51% but lost the Electoral College vote, making George Bush the president.

The Electoral College ensures several things in the elections. The first is this exaggeration in the victory of the president. In this nomination, it appears that Trump won the election by a large margin of electoral votes, but in reality, he is losing popular vote. It also focuses on statewide results rather than the local ones, and therefore arguably makes recounts more difficult and less common. The Electoral College also gives smaller states representation, which keeps candidates from ignoring these states. This system is very important in elections, because it sets up the rules for elections and establishes where a candidate should focus their campaigning.

The electoral process is perhaps the largest and most important component of our election system. There are several criticisms of it, but as of this election, the electoral system has led to the nomination of our newly elected president, Donald Trump.

Stephany Cabral is a political science major who enjoys traveling. She plans to purse a career in law following graduation from Cal Poly Pomona.