Thursday, May 30, 2024

PSUC weighs in on political candidates

With the New Hampshire primary in the rearview mirror, Plattsburgh State faculty and students are weighing in.

“The success by two candidates dealt a remarkable rebuke to the political establishment, and left the race deeply unsettled,” the New York Times reported.

Plattsburgh State Political Science Department Chair Harvey Schantz said the presidential election has been an anomaly.

“I’m going to have to throw out a lot of the textbooks,” Schantz said, summing up his entire feeling of this presidential election.

Schantz, who specializes in elections and voting behavior, said the election has been unconventional.

PSUC Political Science Professor G. Olivia O’Donnell said the major political parties have not more deliberately rejected the establishment — those who have been in politics or held elected office for a long time, or candidates who outline the political platform of their respective party — since 1972.

O’Donnell said that, in this election, Sen. Sanders is tapping into the youth vote, like then-Democratic hopeful George McGovern did in 1972 against Richard Nixon.

Now that the Iowa caucuses have ended, the election process for both parties is officially underway. The Republican and Democratic winners, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton respectively, carry momentum with them in the coming weeks.

Schantz said that, though winning the first few states in the process is a good thing for the candidate who comes in first, it’s not always a sign of good things to come.

Schantz said the first two states to vote have completely different processes.

Iowa holds caucuses, while New Hampshire holds primaries. A caucus is a meeting of party voters who participate in discussions of the candidates before voting. Schantz said Democrats tend to vote more publicly than Republicans.

In the room in which caucus voting takes place, there are different sides of the room marked by certain candidates, and voters sit on the respective sides of their candidates. CNN broadcasted footage of the Iowa caucuses, where Republicans voted individually and recorded their votes on paper ballots.

Schantz said the caucuses can take a few hours and require a much longer time commitment than primaries. Primaries, however, call voters to simply show up and vote or fill out an absentee ballot.

Since 1952, the New Hampshire primary has played an important role in the presidential nomination process, though the outcome does not always indicate who the eventual nominee will be. The Republican New Hampshire primary has typically been “more predictive” than the Democratic one, Schantz said.

Only three Republican winners of New Hampshire have not gone on to secure their party’s nomination for president.

Schantz said the New Hampshire Democratic primary winner has not gone to the general election seven times. Schantz considers this primary historically important because it is the first primary, and it tends to thin out the candidates.

In Iowa, Sanders captured 84 percent of Democratic Iowa caucus voters who were between the ages of 17 and 29 while Sec. Clinton won only 14 percent of the same vote.

Schantz said in this instance, Clinton did better among older voters.

Among Republican voters in Iowa, the vote was not as split among age groups.

Schantz said Cruz won 34 percent of the vote among religious conservatives.

“Ted Cruz is looking to top Donald Trump in Iowa with the help of voters who have fueled many a Republican victory in the state: evangelicals and religious conservatives,” USA Today reported.
Schantz said Florida Sen. Marco Rubio did best among voters who felt experience in politics was a positive factor for the presidency.

The New Hampshire primaries took place this past Monday with both Trump and Sanders winning by large margins. Clinton finished second, but she said she will win the Democratic nomination, according to CNN. Iowa winner Cruz finished behind Trump.

Schantz said Cruz “cultivates an outsider reputation,” meaning he appeals to some as an anti-establishment candidate, but he worked as an adviser for George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign.

The next state set to vote is South Carolina Feb. 20.

O’Donnell also said it’s hard to gauge the youth vote because so many interactions now come through social media.

Plattsburgh senior and global supply chain management major Charlie Jackson said politicians should use Vine or YouTube to appeal to young voters.

“I’m paying more attention to this election than past years,” Jackson said. “It seems to mean more this time around.”

New York’s primary is April 19. In order to vote, PSUC students must register to their political parties by March 25.

Email Joseph Bochichio at

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