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Presidential politics is dominating the news, whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, TV or newspapers.
Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have many people debating which, if either, are fit to run the country.
“We’ve never had a situation where both candidates have such high negatives,” said John Kennedy, associate professor in the Political Science department at West Chester University. “Will it play out like this in November? That remains to be seen. We have four months to go and perhaps one of the campaigns will be able to improve their numbers and there is just so much unpredictability.”
Despite polling with such high negative numbers, some are predicting when November rolls around, the polls will see a high turnout of voters.
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“I think there are people who are frustrated by the choices,” Kennedy said. “Does that mean people will stay home? Oftentimes, if voters aren’t happy with the candidates, they’ll stay home. But the election itself is going to be so highly charged and of such magnitude that interest is going to be so high that I think turnout will be high.”
In Chester County, at least one person believes the same thing.
“The two people who I helped change their party before the (primary) election, I see them all the time,” said Karen Jackson, a West Chester resident. “When the election was over, I asked how it was and they were so happy they went. These people were extremely diligent about changing their party and following through (with voting). People are taking action.”
Jackson, who volunteers to work the poll in her ward, is similar in her belief that neither candidate is a great choice, but she refuses to let herself become a disillusioned voter.
As someone who grew up around the polls because of her family, Jackson makes sure she stays up-to-date with the candidates, both nationally and locally, and helps fill others in on what she has learned.
“I’m never disillusioned,” she said. “I have been involved in the voting process since I was 5. I’m trying to talk people into voting and explain to them about the people who are running. … I try to listen to people and the debates and read the articles. I try and be an educated voter as best I can be so that when I go, I should vote for ‘X’ because he or she is the best person for the job, so to speak.”
With having a candidate such as Donald Trump, who is far from the norm of presidential candidates in the United States, Kennedy doesn’t think this race will truly change future elections.
Instead, he believes it’s the nation itself which is changing.
“I have seen a lot of campaigns and one thing we hear every campaign, that I can recall, is that this is the most important campaign of our lives,” Kennedy said. “Every campaign is important, of course. The demographics are changing and this nation is changing and I think that’s part of what we see in the visions in society.”
Kennedy believes that the constant access to instant news has had a hand in shaping politics and elections.
“Increasingly, politics has become polarized and obviously there are a number of contributing factors to it, whether it’s cable television, talk radio or internet sources,” he said. “Individuals receive information that is filtered through their selective lens. It’s much different than 30 years ago when you had three middle-of-the-road networks delivering news for 22 minutes every evening. Politics has become more and more of a zero-sum game. You either win or lose – you either have the votes or you don’t. … You sense a discontent because various factions of our society have gone off to their own different directions and sort of hit the mute when it’s the other side.”
Jackson has noticed that people are straying away from how they typically vote.
“I’m seeing people are concerned, whereas people before just voted straight ticket,” she said. “People are now changing their minds, so that was a good sign to me that people are aware and care.”
Though the election has moments of bringing out the worst in people with some of the earlier violence at rallies, the country has reached a unique situation that hasn’t quite been seen before, which could also lead to a surprise.
“I think the potential is there that you will see perhaps, if neither of the two major party candidates can coalesce their coalition and base, then you might see some strong numbers for the alternate parties,” Kennedy said. “Both sides, I’m sure, are saying to themselves if they had only nominated so-and-so, they’d be sitting comfortably ahead. We haven’t had a candidacy like (Trump’s). It is uncharted territory in what it means.”