A Tough Race to Call: Commentary from Mock Con 2016
By David Zekan With a large Republican field and many candidates who are not playing to make friends, the 2016 Mock Convention team undoubtedly has a tough task ahead. In a recent interview with the Mock Con Political Team, members commented on the unusual aptness of the American people towards swaying as strongly as it has done recently: “The U.S. continues to see cycles of populist fervor grip the country every few years. We saw this when Green Party candidate Ralph Nader won close to 3 million votes in the 2000 presidential race, with some political observers attributing his success to Al Gore’s eventual defeat. Both liberals and conservatives have tapped into a very real anger and frustration among a “number of Americans over their struggles to make ends meet after the Great Recession.”
What does this mean and why is it haunting Mock Con researchers? It means that candidates like Donald Trump, who speak frankly about the country’s problems, more easily garner support. The large sway of support from debate to debate can also be attributed to candidates tapping into voters’ anxieties. Emotional voters are prone to quickly and confidently sway support, and it is clear that a majority of those polled know what is at stake in the next election.
However, the Mock Con team also offered up another rational explanation for Trump’s success in the late summer, and the taper in his popularity that we are currently seeing: “Trump’s poll numbers in Iowa have gone from a high of 28.3% in September to 22.3% in October.” Candidates undoubtedly want to see their numbers rise, but dramatic polling changes this early in the electoral process means little. A Mock Con Representative offered to explain this phenomenon: “One theory of Trump’s initial success throughout August was that, among other things, Congress was on recess, meaning the month was a slow media cycle. As things pick back up heading into October and November, we expect to see his news domination continue to drop.”
When questioned about their confidence in their ability to accurately predict the 2016 Republican Nominee, the Mock Con Political team assured the Spectator that they have measures in place that will assure good research on a state-to-state level, regardless of the sentiments of the American people as a whole and seemingly biased media coverage. It is the student body’s hope that the political team, from leading researchers to state chairs and their delegates, will succeed in an accurate prediction and not lead the W&L community astray for the second time in eight years. Mock Con Political also emphasized the importance of image in a presidential candidate and cited Professor Connelly, who notes that President Lincoln would never have been elected in 1860 had there been televised debates.
The American people not only want a candidate who will speak his or her mind and speak honestly about issues of importance to them, but also someone who is polished and photogenic for viewers during debates. Perhaps this means a candidate who falls somewhere between Trump and Huckabee, or one who has experience outside of Washington. After all, three of the top candidates in the polls are not career politicians: Trump, Fiorina, and Carson, respectively. Without a doubt, the American people are tired of career politicians who “play the game” and are ready for someone who will take a stand against current corruption. However, those at Mock Con Political foresee a welcome challenge, one that will prove strenuous at times but that makes the race and their jobs as analysts all the more exciting and important.