Students Talk Back takes on 2016 presidential candidates

first_imgThe Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics hosted its weekly Students Talk Back event in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center on Wednesday afternoon. Students and panelists at the event discussed the 2016 presidential election, possible candidates and effective campaign strategies.Wednesday’s panel featured political consultant and USC Dornsife Warschaw Chair in Practical Politics, Professor Robert Shrum and President of Multiplicity Media Productions Jonathan Wilcox. The panel was co-moderated by Kerstyn Olson from the Unruh institute and Sarah Dhanaphatana, news editor of the Daily Trojan.The panel covered topics ranging from potential candidates, campaign finances, length of campaigns and modern changes to the presidential campaign process.Olson posed questions to the panelists about the effect of candidates running early on in the race and what problems may arise from candidates discourse throughout the election season.Shrum spoke about his experience working on former presidential campaigns, including President John F. Kennedy’s 1960 campaign, and how those compare to modern campaigns.“When JFK announced in 1960, he announced on January 3rd of that year, and the press wrote about how unprecedented it was to announce that early,” Shrum said. “Ever since then, people have been announcing earlier and earlier. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? It’s an inevitable thing.”Dhanaphatana discussed the impact of presidential candidates announcing their candidacy this early on before primary elections. She asked both panelists which candidates voters should expect to run in the election. She also asked which crisis communication strategies candidates should consider in light of large national scandals, citing Hillary Clinton’s recent email scandal.Shrum discussed current campaign challenges, especially fundraising, and how those have forced modern presidential candidates to declare their candidacies earlier on in the election season. Recently announced candidates, such as Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, have been forced to announce their intentions to run early in order to keep up with the fundraising power of more established candidates, such as Jeb Bush.He also commented on the division within the Republican Party between the establishment and insurgents and how that division could influence their selection of a presidential candidate. He explained that Bush, the establishment candidate, could theoretically face a significant challenge by one of the insurgent candidates, such as Rand Paul or Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.Wilcox discussed the ways in which the Republican Party will have to adapt in order to improve its public image and appeal to more voters in order to overcome that division.“They themselves have to make the choice and figure out the balance between the extent to which things now aren’t good enough and how to change, but at the same time, be somebody or a couple of somebodies who the voters can feel good about, not just feel angry towards something else,” Wilcox said.Panelists also discussed the role that age could play in candidates appealing to one of the largest voting blocs: millennials. Shrum mentioned one argument made by opponents to Clinton that her age alienates her from younger voters and creates a generational divide.“Listening to my own students, I don’t think that argument has any traction,” Shrum said. “They do not see Hillary Clinton as some sort of throwback to the past … the idea that there’s a translation between candidate’s age and the voters’ decision is dubious at best.”Wilcox highlighted new challenges, particularly apathy or lack of interest in politics, facing presidential candidates today in gaining support from voters.“More people are more unhappy, more disagreeable and more distant from politics, politicians and the political system than any time I’ve seen before … so to me, the great candidate going forward is going to have to be inspiring, but at the same time authentic,” he said.In order to overcome those new challenges, Shrum encouraged better development campaign messages, and he cited President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign, and the use of media to encourage voter turnout to highlight the importance of messaging in targeting voters.“One thing you have to understand when people say they’re building a social media platform or hiring social media experts, as the best of them would tell you, if you don’t have a compelling argument to make to the voters, it doesn’t matter,” Shrum said. “The medium doesn’t matter without the message.”last_img


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