October 21, 2016

Ripe for the picking. Credit: U.S. Embassy London / Flickr Creative Commons. 

The 2016 presidential election has been a bit… unpredictable, to put it mildly. But what does it say about the way we elect our leaders? And how do revelations like Donald Trump’s Access Hollywood tape actually affect an election? To answer those questions, we turned to Lynn Vavreck, a political scientist at UCLA, and author of The Gamble: Choice and Chance in the 2012 Presidential Election.

Three Takeaways:

  • Campaigns don’t actually convince a lot of voters to change their minds. According Vavreck, “people tend to think that campaigns are moving large swaths of the electorate, and really, it’s maybe one in five voters is the most you’re going to move.” 
  • People’s political affiliations have become increasingly central to their identity. Vavreck says that people think of their party as core to their selves, in a way that wasn’t true until recently.
  • If you didn’t predict the rise of Trump, don’t worry. “It isn’t just political scientists who didn’t see Trump coming, nobody saw Trump coming,” Vavreck says. “Not political operatives who have been doing this their whole careers, not partisans, not candidates even.”

More Reading:

NPR, election, innovation hub, lynn vavreck, WGBH, Kara Miller

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