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Election results trump student expectations

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I originally wrote this article for UNC Asheville’s student newspaper, The Blue Banner. It was published November 15, 2016. Digital scan of the issue here.

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By Cody Jones, News Staff Writer

Now that the election results are in, some students at UNC Asheville grapple with the reality of President-elect Donald Trump.

“It’s shocking, I didn’t expect this at all,” said sophomore political science student Blake Hollar. “I don’t think anyone did. It’s like a bad dream.”

Ashley Moraguez, an assistant professor of political science at UNCA, said there are two ways to forecast presidential elections and most people only paid attention to the models predicting a win for Hillary Clinton.

Moraguez said some predictive models focus on what are called the fundamentals and some focus on public opinion polls. In this election the two models had different predictions: the fundamentals leaned toward Trump while the public opinion polls leaned toward Clinton.

The fundamental model relies on three main factors irrespective of who the candidates are. Those factors are incumbency, how long a specific party has controlled the White House and the health of the gross domestic product.

“If an incumbent is running, we typically think that they’re going to win a second term,” Moraguez said. “Another factor is the longer a specific party is in the White House, the less likely they are to keep it and the final factor is the GDP. If the GDP growth is low, it’s typically really bad for the party currently in the White House.”

Moraguez said these factors were not favorable to Clinton.

“So the low growth of the GDP, the length of Obama in the White House and that she’s not an incumbent, all of those things were working against her on the fundamentals.”

Moraguez said most people put their faith in the polling models and did not pay much attention to the fundamentals.

“The margins differed and the certainty we had in the polls differed but almost all of them were pointing toward a Hillary victory with fairly good certainty,” Moraguez said. “Political science is a little split on which to look at but I think the media was focusing on the polls.”

Hollar said he is worried about the policies Trump campaigned on.

“His immigration policy is scary even though it seems impossible to do, talking about deporting 11 million immigrants,” Hollar said. “I still think he’s going to try to do that on a smaller scale.”

Moraguez said many of Trump’s campaign promises, particularly his immigration policy, are not likely to come to fruition.

“Just from an economic standpoint, we don’t have the money to build a wall or deport 11 million immigrants,” Moraguez said. “I do think he might be able to crack down on immigration, but not to the extent he campaigned on.”

Moraguez said many of Trump’s policies would ultimately be determined by the Supreme Court.

“So it’ll be interesting to see who he ends up appointing or who he’s able to appoint and how they will decide certain cases,” Moraguez said. “It’ll be interesting to see what policies he decides to prioritize, the first 100 days of a transition tend to be where you have the biggest mandate.”

Kelsey Gaffigan, a junior sociology student, said she is concerned about what Trump’s election means for society in general.

“I’m really worried about what’s going to happen,” Gaffigan said. “I’m worried about what Trump getting elected says about America accepting rape culture and excusing those behaviors.”

Gaffigan said she has privileges that others may not and because of that she is worried about what a Trump presidency might mean for minorities.

“Latino and Latina immigrants, and they don’t even have to be immigrants because they’re going to be profiled anyway, I’m worried about LGBTQ brothers and sisters,” Gaffigan said.

Hollar said the North Carolina gubernatorial election result is also surprising.

Roy Cooper, the Democratic challenger to Gov. Pat McCrory, is ahead by roughly 5,000 votes. Counties will have a recount and the final result is expected be announced on Friday.

“Cooper probably won’t be able to veto any of their legislation if he wins,” Hollar said. “It’s better that we’ll have a Democratic governor but he probably won’t get much done.”

Republicans maintained their supermajority in the North Carolina House and Senate. A supermajority means the legislature has the numbers to override any veto by the governor.

Gaffigan said she hopes Cooper could bring about some change as governor.

“Assuming the recount is the same as the original count, I’ll be really happy,” Gaffigan said. “Hopefully, that means more financing for education and maybe an overturn of HB2.”

Gaffigan said a Republican-controlled Congress and White House means they will be able to pass almost anything they want.

“They really have a lot of political power right now,” Gaffigan said. “They can kind of get whatever they want passed. That’s why Obama has been struggling with getting anything accomplished.”

Junior art history student Margaret Dillon said she is concerned about the concentration of Republican power.

“That is probably scarier to me than Trump winning the presidency,” Dillon said. “We have a system of checks and balances and it could potentially fail now.”

Moraguez said both chambers of Congress and Trump will have to work together and determine their priorities since the Republican Party is not entirely unified with Trump.

“He’s not really a uniting figure within his party, so I think they’re going to have to really have a heart-to-heart and talk about what the party is going to accomplish as a unit,” Moraguez said. “I think Trump is going to have to fall in line with what his party in Congress wants in some of these issues, so he’s going to bend toward the median of the Republican Party to some extent.”

Hollar said the Affordable Care Act is in trouble.

“I think Obamacare is not going to exist anymore,” Hollar said. “Trump is talking about replacing it with something else, but I’m not exactly sure what that would look like. I feel like he can’t just get rid of it at this point. You’re going to have to replace it with something.”

Moraguez said she believes the Affordable Care Act will likely be repealed.

“I do think that one of the things they agree on is that Obamacare isn’t working,” Moraguez said. “But Trump and his party don’t necessarily agree on what to do instead of Obamacare, so that’s going to be an interesting conversation to watch but it does seem like it might be in trouble.”

Sophomore mathematics student Carey Dunn said she is glad Trump won.

“I think Trump will protect our country more than Hillary would have,” Dunn said. “I think that with the globalized world that we have, we need to put in more protection for us as a country and I didn’t think Hillary was going to do that.”

Dunn said she believes Trump is an outsider who will be able to improve the economy and keep the U.S. out of potential wars.

“I think we’ve been in debt for way too long and with Trump being a businessman, I hope he might be able to get us out of that,” Dunn said. “We should not be as involved in as many wars as we can. I think we should go back to a more isolationist perspective as is possible in this political world.”

Moraguez said Trump is the truest outsider the White House has seen since Herbert Hoover.

“This election was very much an anti-establishment impulse. People thought that political insiders weren’t serving their interests and Trump was a breath of fresh air to a lot of voters,” Moraguez said. “I think for some voters, having an inexperienced president is worrisome and for some it might mean meaningful change.”

Dunn said she aligns more with the Libertarian Party but could not vote for Gary Johnson since she does not believe third-party voting makes a difference.

Dillon said she is trying to be more optimistic about the future.

“I’m just trying to be positive,” Dillon said. “I don’t necessarily think it’s the end of the world. I think a lot of people are behaving like it is and that can be very detrimental.”

Moraguez said she encourages those who are worried to have the same optimism as Dillon.

“I know that on this campus in particular the students seem to be very upset, but I would advise people to have faith in the system,” Moraguez said. “A president is not a dictator. If you’re not a Trump supporter it does not mean that our democracy is changing and if you are a Trump supporter, he may not be able to enact everything that you want.”

Moraguez said people should look forward to the 2018 midterm elections. She said dissatisfied voters can change the makeup of Congress then.

“Realize that the dynamics will shift, this is how American politics go,” Moraguez said. “Politics don’t end after a presidential election. There are still local elections that happen all the time and if you’re happy or angry with the results, you should get involved in politics.”

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