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Student Blog Post: As election looms close, voters have decisions to make

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

trump rigged conspiracy emails

With one of the arguably worst presidential elections coming to an end, we sit back and think who might actually win the 2016 Presidential Election. Not many weeks ago, it looked like Hillary Clinton might easily win after Donald Trump’s comments about women had surfaced. Additionally, women were coming out, claiming Trump assaulted them. There were also several Republicans who came out to openly oppose Trump. Current Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has been unsure if he should endorse Trump or not. However, after this past weekend he endorsed Trump, arguing voters should still support the Republican Party.

As we fast forward to today, the presidential race looks much closer as political attention seems to be focused on Hillary Clinton’s emails. However, how important are these emails? How much do we really care about them? Do we only care about them because the media is talking about them, forcing everyone to show interest? It did raise the issue that Hillary Clinton would seem to be untrustworthy and perhaps an unreliable person to run a country.

The Columbia Model hypothesized that voters’ approached the ballot like a marketplace, influenced by the media. However, they found that voters are heavily influenced by socialization forces in determining their opinion. Moreover, looking at this year’s election, it would seem that Hillary Clinton would be the wise choice in regards to the model showing voters’ close attention to social groups. In order to win, one journalist claimed that Trump would need roughly 47% of the Latino vote. After Trump’s racial comments, it would be a tough goal to achieve but if he’s made it this far, what’s to say he cannot get the votes necessary?

The Michigan Model furthers the findings of the Columbia Model by adding a psychological factor that would result with the “funnel of causality”. Within the funnel, voters are influenced by: party identification (the strongest factor), candidate characteristics and issues. Brown concluded in the readings that millennials should be looking at other candidates that better represent them on key issues, as they are unsatisfied with the Democratic Party. With this election it seems people are switching support in parties, which would go against the most important factor in the funnel. With this election, there are many cases that challenge these kinds of findings. Will people vote against Trump for his comments? Will they support Hillary for her political resume?

Jorge Gonzalez is a fourth year Political Science major that enjoys watching and playing sports and listening to music in his free time.

Student Blog Post: Trump’s success is a mixture of different (and unexpected) factors

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

trump women photo meme support

The 2016 presidential election is proving to be an intense period in the American history. The two candidates are now going head-to-head in the polls as election day is only a few days away. However, taking a closer look at this election, we have come to see that it has been one rollercoaster of a ride for Donald Trump. From his comments about Muslims, Mexicans, building a wall, and of course, his lewd comments about women, he has proven to be a peculiar candidate.

Focusing specifically on his comments about women, recorded on the Access Hollywood tapes, he gave no regard to the treatment of the female gender. By saying comments such as “they let them do anything to you when you’re rich,” shows what a misogynistic man he really is. However, we have to stop and wonder how he still has support from women, even after these comments. This blind following of Trump falls back to the idea of party identification. Some women are so loyal to the Republican Party, that it does not matter to them what comments Trump makes, as long as they fall into the Republican ideology.

The Michigan Model, a study created to see how voters vote they way they do, could potentially explain this attachment. The Michigan Model focused on the sociological and psychological thinking of voters. They found that people determined their vote through processing considerations in what they called “The Funnel of Causality”. This funnel consisted of three considerations: party identification, candidate characteristics and issue positions. For the researchers, they found that people voted foremost with whichever party they identified the most with, mostly ignoring issue positions or candidate qualifications.

Female Trump supporters might be voting for Trump because of the process described by the Michigan Model. Even though there is a woman in the race, female voters may support Trump because they are staunch Republicans. These women believe Trump is the best possible candidate for their party without knowing the basic facts about him such as that he started his life out as a Democrat, he has consistently lied and fluctuated on his words on national television, and also supports incredibly right wing policies that many Republican leaders from his own party do not even agree with.

Another factor as to why these women could be voting for such a right wing nominee is because of the idea of retrospective voting. This idea entails that voters make political decisions based on past events and performances. This theory is linked to pocketbook voting, which describes how voters take economic considerations into account. If the voter believes that the current party has done him or her justice in the last eight years, he or she is more likely to vote in the current party’s favor. However, if the voter believes that he or she has suffered due to the current party and the president, he or she is more likely to vote in favor of the opposite party. Tying this back to the women, many of them could feel as if their families have suffered through an economic turmoil during Barack Obama’s presidency, thus pushing them to cast their vote for Trump.

All in all, there are many factors as to why women are voting for Trump in this current election. It will be interesting to see how this close election will play out and how female voters will influence on who wins the election in these next few days.

Nupur Katti is a third year Political Science major who enjoys dancing, reading, and watching Netflix. She plans on going to law school right after graduation. 

Student Blog Post: Although Trump faltered early, he has a path to 270

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 Nebraska’s 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.

Student Blog Post: Trump’s divisive comments are driving away Republicans

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

trump insults veterans obama pope military rand paul

As the presidential race draws to a close, Hillary Clinton is bringing attention to Trump’s history of sexist comments. Following several allegations of sexual harassment and highly publicized instances of Trump’s disregard for women, the Clinton campaign is on the offensive in an effort to secure the female vote. Just yesterday in Florida, a key battleground state in this election, Hillary proudly proclaimed “For my entire life, I’ve been a woman, and when I think about what we now know about Donald Trump and what he’s been doing for 30 years, he sure has spent a lot of time demeaning, degrading, insulting and assaulting women.” Clinton begins with an appeal to all women, disregarding race, party affiliation, religion, or any factors other than gender. With the potential to be first female president of the United States, Hillary is a symbol of women’s rights and empowerment, which puts her in an ideal position to take a stance against Trump’s blatant misogyny. Recently Clinton’s campaign has released advertisements reminding the public about Trump’s remarks on grabbing women by the genitals and kissing them without permission, asserting that “he doesn’t see us as human beings”. In addition, at her rally in Florida, Clinton brought out the winner of the 1996 Miss Universe pageant to speak on Trump’s disrespect towards women and testify to how he publicly denounced her because of her weight.

Clinton’s effort to capture women’s support relates to what the Columbia model found regarding voter choice. Researchers at Columbia discovered that membership in social groups is the strongest influence on how people vote. Specifically, they found that religion, social class, and region are the most important, followed by family, friends, school and media. While Trump has reduced his chance of winning the election through rhetoric which angers and divides said social groups, Clinton seeks to gain support by appealing to an entire gender. This election seems to be an ideal representation of the implications of the Columbia Model. Even the most dedicated Republican women, Latinos, and Muslims, the three main social groups targeted by Trump, are being swayed to vote for Hillary. While Trump appeals to certain social groups, generally older, wealthy white males, his hateful speech is destroying the party attachment of many voters who identified as Republicans.

The Michigan study took the conclusions of the Columbia study and added a psychological factor. They discovered that much of voter choice is rooted in our party ID, developed over our lifetime. Second to that we vote based on the candidate’s background, skill and personal characteristics. The fact that many voters are switching party allegiance in accordance with their social group seems to challenge the notion that our party ID is set in stone. However, the fact that we vote based on the candidate’s’ attributes and background, in other words their social group, seems to be consistent with the current election. While Trump has overwhelming support from older, wealthy white males, Hilary is most successful with women and Latinos.

In conclusion, both studies offer us significant insights into voting behavior, and when applied to this election they exemplify how crucial social groups are to a campaign. While Hillary is a champion of women’s achievement, Trump is an excellent example of how bashing certain social groups can generate an alarming amount of support in voters and drive loyal party members away.

Max Iskiev is a 3rd year political science major at Cal Poly Pomona. He enjoys going to the beach, reading books and politics. He plans on attending law school and going into human rights law after graduating.