Vote or Not to Vote (Week 4)

As the country seems to be divided, split into pro and anti-Donald Trump factions, local DMV residents attribute their decision to vote or not to the media coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Rachel Webb, twenty-three year old single mother, did not want to vote but says the incessant coverage on television compelled her to.

“No matter time of day, or what channel you flipped to, they were talking about the election. The media made it seem like Trump was going to win so despite not wanting to vote, I did.”

During the campaign, the daily news audience is larger than that of the convention viewing audience, specifically in the mornings from 6am-9am and evenings 5pm-8pm. Coverage of Donald Trump continued to outpace that of Hillary Clinton during this period, but, even though, both candidates received negative coverage.

Maureen Patterson, fifty-five year old Virginia Resident, explains how she initially supported Trump and how her views changed as the election continued.

“Initially I liked his stance on immigration. However, I couldn’t support his remarks against women and verbal history of sexual assault. As the election continued I couldn’t in good conscience support him.”

Negative news reports about policy positions, for example, outnumbered positive reports 82 percent to 18 percent. Trump experienced a reversal of the good press he had received earlier in the campaign. Although Clinton’s coverage was more positive than Trump’s, it was still negative on balance, with a full tenth of her coverage revolving around allegations of wrongdoing.

A recent report done by the Harvard Kennedy School shows that during the year 2015, major news outlets gave Donald Trump more coverage, which was unusual seeing how his initial polling number were low. This high volume of media coverage preceded Trump’s rise in the polls. Although experts say there is no such thing as bad press, the study reveals that most of Trump’s coverage in the beginning of his campaign was positive. By the time he received bad press, he had won the Republican primary and had a strong group of supporters. The volume and tone of the coverage helped propel Trump to the top of Republican polls.

However, Anthony Thompson, thirty year old local business owner believes both candidates received equal coverage, but he was still prompted not to vote.\

“I think [Hilary Clinton] had just as much coverage as her opponent but I didn’t want to vote for her just because she was the lesser of two evils. In 2012 I believed that President Obama had a better vision for his continued service in leading the country. I did not participate this year because I didn’t believe either candidate should hold the position.”

Thompson is not the only millennial who shared sentiments of not wanting to vote. According to a 2009 Harvard Kennedy School study, this year in comparison to 2008 and 2012, accounts for a low voter turnout amongst young peoples and the change in voters attitudes towards voting. Today’s voters appear more selective than those of earlier generations, choosing to vote or not vote based on their sense of an election’s significance rather than out of sense of personal duty.

Despite the claim, DC resident, twenty-three year old Johnathan Benhomme believes it’s important to vote.

“I believe every vote counts, and the verdict last week proves that even more so, as you can see the person who won is not fitted to lead America.”

Ironically Benhomme did not vote in the 2012 election due to a “disinterest in politics at the time.” When asked if the recent media coverage over the election had anything to do with his current beliefs, Benhomme has this to say.

“Yes, it did. It made me seriously consider the future with both candidates in office. I remember feeling genuinely scared when thought ‘what if he [Trump] really became president.’ I thought things would take a turn for the worse.”

Not enough U.S citizen shared the same apprehensions as Benhomme. Data collected by the United States Elections Project reported that 58% of the country’s 232 million eligible voters voted this year. Whereas in 2008, 62% of eligible voters turned out to vote.

Despite the up-set, this election has encouraged voters to get more involved in state and local elections.

“I was upset to find out that Trump won the election, but I was livid when I found out that Republican controlled the House and Senate. So much time is dedicated to picking the President, it’s easy to forget that more is happening. Now more than ever, I want to get involved in local government. I didn’t know who my district rep was until last week, but it’s a start.” Allen Davis, 35 year old, Virginia Resident.

According to the New York Times, In 14 states more people voted for the senate races than voted for the presidency. In North Carolina, about 30,000 more people cast ballots for incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory and Roy Cooper than for any of the presidential nominees, who earned 4.6 million combined votes. Time will tell if this anomaly will gain traction and become the norm.

Normal world not describe this past election. A 2010 Public Opinion Quarterly study from Harvard University, Duke University, and the Associated Press warned the public early on that thwarted voters will necessarily stay home or defect to the opposing-party candidate because of hard feelings from a divisive nomination phase.





Wisbey, John. “”Sour Grapes” or Rational Voting? Decision Making among Thwarted Primary Voters in 2008 – Journalist’s Resource Journalist’s Resource.” Journalist’s Resource. Harvard Kennedy School, Nov. 2011. Web. 17 Nov. 2016.


Wihbey, John, and Denise-Marie Ordway. “Voter Participation in Presidential Primaries, Caucuses – Journalist’s Resource.” Journalist’s Resource. Harvard Kennedy School, 18 Apr. 2016. Web. 17 Nov. 2016.


Patterson, Thomas E. “Research: Media Coverage of the 2016 Election – Shorenstein Center.” Shorenstein Center. Harvard Kennedy School, 7 Sept. 2016. Web. 17 Nov. 2016


Abadi, Mark. “One Metric Puts into Perspective How Unpopular Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Were with Voters.” Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 09 Nov. 2016. Web. 17 Nov. 2016


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