ICYMI: University hosts final events of election season

Professors, guests offer analysis during three pre-election events

ICYMI: University hosts final events of election season

With election day rapidly approaching, both the School of Communications and the School of Public Affairs offered final events before voters cast their ballots on Tuesday. In case you missed it, here are three election events hosted in the past week at AU.

Trump's candidacy proves larger societal issues, political communication professor says

SOC Faculty Forum with Professor Leonard Steinhorn

Oct. 25, 2016

The rise of Donald Trump in the race for president this year has broader implications for the future of America, according to Professor Leonard Steinhorn in his presentation at the Faculty Forum on Oct. 25.

Speaking to a crowd of mostly faculty and graduate students, Steinhorn presented the rise of Donald Trump and his influence on the future of American culture.

“Donald Trump is perhaps more than anything a symptom of what's undermining our society,” Steinhorn said.

Steinhorn made the claim that before the Access Hollywood video scandal and the last three presidential debates, there was a likely chance that Trump would have been president of the United States.

He said that Trump’s rise in the Republican party is due to the use of his reality TV show, “The Apprentice,” which depicted Trump as a figure of wealth and power. The show convinced many Americans and the media that his election to the presidency would be similarly attractive, Steinhorn said.

Steinhorn noted that rural whites have become Trump’s main voting base because of his rhetoric against the “status quo” in government. Steinhorn said that they believe that they are being discriminated against by liberal elitists and feel neglected by government. This fight against “entrenched authority” is attractive to millions of Americans who resent the “cultural capital” of those who are well-educated and cosmopolitan.

“We’re in this partisan age, and how we once again pull ourselves back to a point where we can trust some of our institutions, that’s going to be difficult if a large chunk of people think that the media are simply just part of the establishment that doesn’t understand and looks down on [rural Americans],” Steinhorn said.

Steinhorn said he feels that there is a loss of conversation and agreement between groups and cultural sects in America, and there are “a lot of folks who are more against something than for something.” The job of the next president will be solving this divide, and bringing America back together again.

Held in the School of Communication’s Media Lab, the faculty forum was available for live stream over UStream as a part of the monthly Faculty Forum series.



The ‘most puzzling election in the history of our country,’ says Professor Allan Lichtman

Presidential Predictions: No Polls, No Pundits

Oct. 27, 2016

AU Professor Allan Lichtman and Dr. Kenton White of University of Ottawa don’t just watch elections: they predict them.

Both professors explained their election forecasting methods for the 2016 presidential race on Oct. 27 at the event “Presidential Predictions: No Polls, No Pundits.”

Both scholars acknowledged this election has been unusual, Lichtman calling it the “most puzzling election in the history of our country.” White told the audience it has been a “very interesting election to say the least.”

White uses a computer algorithm to predict elections. He explained that his algorithm can accurately predict results one to two weeks before an election. On the day of the event, it predicted that Hillary Clinton will win with 46.6 percent of the vote and Donald Trump will get 41.2 percent of the vote, with margins of errors of 1.6 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.

White’s algorithm has analyzed hundreds of elections from the English-speaking world, he said. It detects patterns that help it predict the outcomes of an election. For example, the computer correctly predicted that British voters would choose to leave the European Union in a referendum last June, he said.

On the other hand, Lichtman uses a series of 13 true/false statements, known as “keys,” that he calls the “Keys to the White House” to predict who will win the presidency. He answers the questions himself and doesn’t use a computer to generate election forecasts.

If five or less of the “keys” are false, the current president’s party wins. If six or more keys are false, then the other party wins the presidency. Lichtman based the keys on American elections from 1860 to 1980.

Lichtman first used them in 1984 and they have never been wrong, he said. He predicts a narrow Trump victory because of seven false keys. However, Lichtman warns that it is important to qualify what the keys say.

“The Republicans have nominated anything but a generic candidate,” Lichtman said. “They have nominated a history-smashing, precedent-breaking, dangerous candidate.”



“The Pollsters” talk voting, exit polls, and who’s winning the election

Countdown to Election 2016: Pollsters

Nov. 1, 2016

This presidential election has been all about the polls, according to polling experts Lauren Soltis Anderson and Margie Omero, who visited AU on Nov. 1. But the art of polling is much more than a game of numbers, they said.

Anderson and Omero are the creators of the podcast, “The Pollsters,” a bipartisan show on polling and its implications about the election. Both women often appear on television outlets such as MSNBC, CNN and Fox News, as well as in newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post

Anderson, author of the book “The Selfie Vote,” and one of TIME’s “30 People Under 30” in 2013, is a Republican pollster and co-founder of the research and analytics firm Echelon Insights.

Omero, a 20-year veteran in her field, is the president and founder of Momentum Analysis LLC and executive vice president of public affairs at PSB Research.

Omero said that Latinos and white, non-college educated voters will be the “ones to watch” in the election, but Anderson said she is also interested in the millennial vote under the age of 30.

“Overall, you have only 40 percent of young voters that have a positive view of Hillary Clinton, this is just not a positive election for a lot of young people,” Anderson said. “I think that raises the question then if younger voters are breaking heavily to Hillary Clinton, she still needs them to turn out in big numbers to offset whatever majority Trump is going to have among the 65 and up crowd.”

Although Trump has high attendance at rallies, Omero is interested to see whether or not that support turns into votes.

“There is no convincing now,” Anderson said. “There is no October or November ‘surprise’ that can really move people, especially since ultimately these ‘surprises’ are reinforcing things we already know about the candidates.”

The event was held by the School of Communication and the School of Public Affairs and co-sponsored by the Kennedy Political Union, College Dems, and College Republicans. Questions to Omero and Anderson were moderated by SPA’s Executive in Residence Betsy Fischer Martin and SOC’s Executive in Residence Molly O’Rourke.


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