Democrats Hoyos, Williams Face Off Ahead of Race for Duncan’s Seat: Photo Story

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Two representative candidates met to discuss their views at a Democratic town hall Wednesday night at the University of Tennessee. Dr. Joshua Williams, left, and Renee Hoyos, are running for representative for Tennessee’s 2nd Congressional District, currently held by Jimmy Duncan.
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Hoyos cited her time as the director of the Tennessee Clean Water Network, an environmentalist group, as one of many qualifications for the job. “I’ve lobbied at the state level and the federal level. I’ve worked in public policy for 15 years. I know how to do the work of government.”
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“Right now healthcare is the number one issue for people,” Williams said. A clinical psychologist and healthcare provider, Williams said he knows how the industry works and that it’s time to get profits out of healthcare.
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Both democratic candidates voiced support for many of the same ideas, such as family reunification, funding for Planned Parenthood, and access to higher education.
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Williams also supports a $15 minimum wage and provision of better low-income housing.
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Hoyos said her time working with immigration services would help her in policy-making. “I remember when Republicans thought amnesty was a good idea.” Hoyos said she is committed to protecting so-called Dreamers, and would like to craft meaningful immigration reform.
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Running against Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, both Democrat candidates will need to become more visible before the election. “Tennessee has the lowest voter turnout rate in the country. We’ve got to do better,” Williams says.
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“We have an opportunity to change what this district looks like that we may not get in another 20 years,” Hoyos said of Duncan’s retirement. Both candidates encouraged audience members to be involved in this election cycle.
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The town hall was hosted by the University of Tennessee’s College Democrats. The group had a booth set up for voter registration and members who could answer questions for attendees.
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The town hall was moderated by UTK College Democrats President Caroline Cranford, right, who praised the two “very fine” candidates.

 

President-elect Donald J. Trump: the issues. conclusion

Written by Samantha Lindsay

The following report is the final part of the fifth installment in a series presenting a comparative analysis of select legislative proposals that were a part of the platforms of the two major candidates in the 2016 presidential election; Democrat (D) Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican (R), Donald J. Trump. In the four previous installments published before the election, I addressed the candidates’ positions on the issues of paid family leave, the economy, gun control, and the Affordable Care Act.

This series is not an endorsement of either candidate.

 

Trump’s Electorate and the Issues

As pointed out above in the county by county breakdown of the election, Trump won the majority of small cities, towns, suburban and rural communities in the country. Until the past couple of decades, these have been among the primary manufacturing and agricultural centers in the United States, which historically gave rise to the American middle class.

According to exit polls conducted by CNN, Trump won the of majority of the middle-class vote and 40 percent of the working-class vote. While a broad cross-section of voters from all demographics voted for Trump, the CNN exit poll coupled with the county by county analysis indicates that education, profession, annual income, age and geographic location were the primary indicators of the people forming Trump’s electorate.

Middle and working-class voters employed in trade professions were among Trump’s strongest supporters, and their number one issue was the economy. Their positions on almost all other major issues, particularly illegal immigration and international trade agreements are informed directly by the economic experiences of the communities in which they live.

An Oct. 12, Rasmussen survey found that “just 35 percent of likely U.S. voters think the U.S. economy is fair to the middle class,” and with good reason. America has been de-industrializing while our most populous urban centers have been transitioning to a service based economy.

Most high-paying service jobs require higher education and technical training. The majority of manufacturing and agricultural jobs do not require higher education; nevertheless, they have historically been good-paying jobs that provided average middle-class incomes to working families. However, five primary things have happened that have changed the nature of the American economy to the detriment of the middle and working-class, three of which have been the direct result of government policies and international trade agreements.

Monthly calculations from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that a record 95,089,000 Americans are not participating in the American labor force. That’s an increase of approximately 17.8 million from a decade ago. Much of the downturn in labor participation is due to the retirement of the “boomer” generation. However, the retirement of the older generation is far from the only explanation for this decline.

The second development, which has contributed to the decline in manufacturing jobs, is rapid technological innovation. Proponents of economic globalization often claim this is the only reason why manufacturing jobs have declined; however, the evidence does not support the claim. The evidence does suggest that the major causes of America’s de-industrialization and declining native participation in the labor force are due primarily to government policies and foreign trade agreements. These policies include lax enforcement of immigration law leading to a mass migration of illegal immigrants into the United States and “lop-sided” international trade agreements which have contributed to the outsourcing of millions of American jobs.

A June 2014 report by Karen Zeigler and Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies, indicates that “All employment growth since 2000 went to immigrants.” Their findings showed that “The total number of working-age (16 to 65) immigrants (legal and illegal) holding a job increased 5.7 million from the first quarter of 2000 to the first quarter of 2014, while declining 127,000 for natives.” These findings are consistent with data reported by the Pew Research Center indicating that “There were 8 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. working or looking for work in 2014, making up 5 percent of the civilian labor force.”

Jobs that are taken by immigrants fall primarily into three sectors of the economy; low-paying service or agricultural jobs, skilled trade professions and high-paying technology jobs. Employment in the service, trade and agricultural sectors are sought-after by illegal immigrants while high-paying technology jobs are preferred by immigrants who are in the United States on H-1B visas. Both demographics appeal to employers because both are willing to work for lower hourly wages than working and middle-class Americans.

Trump has now become famous (or infamous, depending on one’s perspective) for his campaign promise to build a wall on the Mexican/American border. His pledge and his often stated support for law enforcement earned him the endorsement of the Border Patrol Union; a first in American history. Throughout his campaign, Trump held hundreds of rallies where he attracted tens of thousands of supporters and, at every one of them (as seen in this Fox News report), chants of “Build the wall, build the wall” would break out in his support.

If you ask them, Trump’s supporters will tell you why they want a wall on the southern border. It isn’t because they are racists or xenophobic as many people claim. Indeed, according to this CNN exit poll, Trump won the support of 28 percent of Latino voters. These American voters, including Latino-Americans legally residing in the United States, want a wall built on the southern border to protect American jobs and for reasons of national security. Nevertheless, it is possible that immigration, which is only exacerbating a larger issue, would not be as important as it is to Trump’s voters if not for trade agreements, which have created massive trade deficits leading to the loss of millions of American jobs.

In an article published on Nov. 30, Jeff Faux of the Economic Policy Institute, an independent left-leaning think tank in Washington that is equally critical of both political parties, reported, “When NAFTA was passed, the United States was running a trade surplus with Mexico. President Bill Clinton promised that NAFTA would increase the surplus, creating 200,000 new American jobs in its first two years and a million jobs in five years. By 2010, deficits with Mexico had cost the United States 700,000 jobs.”

Faux goes on to explain that with each new international trade agreement sold to the American public by both Republican and Democratic leaders, the government stacked up higher trade deficits resulting in millions of jobs lost, millions more displaced and decades of wage stagnation. These deficits exist because we are now importing more than we are exporting and consuming more than we are producing.  This practice is unsustainable.

As I pointed out in part two of this series, the U.S. Department of the Treasury reports that our national debt is $19.6 trillion, the Federal Reserve reports that our total debt is $46.3 trillion and the U.S. Census Bureau reports that 43.1 million Americans are now living in poverty.

Decades of politicians have promised us that “this trade agreement is different,” even as each new one signed led to the rich getting richer, the middle-class working harder for less and shrinking as a demographic even as the poor are getting poorer. According to this Pew Research analysis, the American middle-class is no longer the majority. Trump’s voters know it and are fully convinced that their government sold them, their children and their country out for the sake of personal gain.

Conclusion

More than anything else, the economy was the single most important issue for Trump’s supporters. According to CNN’s exit polls, Trump won a solid majority of 52 percent of the vote from Americans ages 45 and older.

They didn’t care if they were labeled racists; they were more concerned about being able to pay their mortgage. They didn’t care if they were labeled xenophobes; they were more concerned with paying for their children’s education. They didn’t care if they were labeled sexists and they didn’t care if Trump was crude; they were more concerned about the country they will leave behind for their children.

While the media condemned them and Hillary Clinton branded them with a “basket” of scarlet letters, Trump noticed them. He embraced them, spoke their language and addressed their genuine needs. While it appeared to them that the country hates them and Clinton didn’t care at all about them, Trump gave them hope and promised them a brighter future.

Hatred didn’t drive them to the polls; genuine fear for the future of their country did. Perhaps they misjudged Trump’s opponent. Perhaps Clinton and her supporters misjudged them. The media certainly did. Nevertheless, in the face of overwhelming opposition, the people of 2,627 counties in this country issued a resounding statement in protest of the economic practices of the American government when they delivered President-elect Donald J. Trump a historic county by county, landslide victory.

 

Edited by Ben Webb

Featured image by DonkeyHotey on Flickr, obtained using creativecommons.org

President-elect Donald J. Trump: the electorate

Written by Samantha Lindsay

The following report is the fourth-of-five in the fifth installment in a series presenting a comparative analysis of select legislative proposals that were a part of the platforms of the two major candidates in the 2016 presidential election; Democrat (D) Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican (R), Donald J. Trump. In the four previous installments published before the election, I addressed the candidates’ positions on the issues of paid family leave, the economy, gun control, and the Affordable Care Act.

This series is not an endorsement of either candidate.

 

Trump’s Electorate and the Media

Who are the people that voted for Donald Trump?

In spite of the media’s failure to address the issues in this campaign and the subsequent failure of the polling agencies to accurately predict the outcome of the election, many people on both the “right” and the “left” think they know the answer to that question. What they believe is not flattering.

On Feb. 23, Glenn Beck, a writer for The Blaze and contributor to the National Review posted a status update on his Facebook page characterizing Trump’s supporters as “Brownshirts.” The characterization is a reference to Adolph Hitler’s Nazi Germany where some particularly violent members of the Nazi regime wore brown shirts. Beck’s characterization of Trump’s supporters set the tone of his election coverage, during which he frequently compared Trump to Hitler. Meanwhile, at the National Review, Kevin Williamson and David French wrote a series of articles wherein they declared that white working class communities, which they claim form the heart of Trump’s support, are drug addled and deserve to die.

Not to be outdone, on Sept. 10, the Associated Press reported that Hillary Clinton, in a speech at a private fundraiser, declared “You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorable(s). They’re racists, sexists, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic; you name it.”

These are all shocking allegations that fit right into the scandalous narrative promoted by the media. According to CNN, 62,516,883 people voted for Trump. If the critics are correct about these voters, then we are in deep trouble as a country. In this past election, they made up 46.4 percent of the entire electorate. But, is it true? Are Trump’s voters all of these evil things? Do they deserve to wear these “scarlet letters” used to label them? Perhaps the answer to that question can be found if we discover why they voted for Donald Trump.

The next part of this installment will focus on Trump’s electorate and the issues.

 

Edited by Ben Webb

Featured image by DonkeyHotey on Flickr, obtained using creativecommons.org

President-elect Donald J. Trump: the media

Written by Samantha Lindsay

The following report is the third-of-five in the fifth installment in a series presenting a comparative analysis of select legislative proposals that were a part of the platforms of the two major candidates in the 2016 presidential election; Democrat (D) Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican (R), Donald J. Trump. In the four previous installments published before the election, I addressed the candidates’ positions on the issues of paid family leave, the economy, gun control, and the Affordable Care Act.

This series is not an endorsement of either candidate.

 

The Polls and the Media

On November 7th, Quinnipiac published the results of a poll showing Clinton in the lead in the state of North Carolina with 47 percent to Trump’s 45 percent. Politico reports that Trump won the state with 50.5 percent of the vote. According to the same poll conducted by Quinnipiac, only 37 percent of likely female voters in the state supported Trump. According to a CNN exit poll, which questioned 4,297 respondents in North Carolina on the day of the election, 45 percent of female voters, voted for Trump.

As a general rule, the margin of error in an election poll is supposed to be +/- 4 percent. The above cited Quinnipiac poll claimed a margin of error of +/- 3.3 percent. The poll was off by 5.5 percent statewide and by a margin of 8 percent in their poll of likely female voters.

Conducted correctly, election polls with a large enough sample size to be representative of the population can be fairly accurate. However, election polling is not an exact science; therefore, the difference between the claimed margin of error and the actual margin of error would be understandable if the Quinnipiac poll were an anomaly.

To the great surprise of many voters, the errors made by Quinnipiac were not an exception during this election season; they were the rule. For example, in every poll included in the Real Clear Politics average of polls conducted over a period of four months, Clinton had a lead in the state of Wisconsin with a final polling average of +6 percent. According to Politico, Trump won the state of Wisconsin by a margin of one-percent.

These polls are the reason FiveThirtyEight gave Clinton a 71.4 percent chance of winning the election and predicted that Trump would lose the battleground states of Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin; all of which Trump won. These polling errors beg the question, “How could the predictions made by so many professional polling agencies have been so wrong about the outcome of this election?” I think the evidence suggests that the errors made were due to the focus of their polls, which were largely media driven.

The Media

According to a post-election Rasmussen report, by Fran Coombs, “The media created a false narrative about the 2016 presidential campaign, and most polling reinforced it. Controversy was the name of the media game…and many pollsters were saying little over a month ago that Democrat Hillary Clinton had already won.”

On television and in news publications, the entire focus of the election was a competition of personalities and character deficiencies while the media inundated the voting public with one scandalous story after another. Meanwhile, a study conducted by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy found that only eight percent of the media’s coverage of the campaigns focused on the issues.

Two weeks before the election on Oct. 25, Just Facts published a survey that measured “voters’ knowledge of issues that affect their lives in tangible ways.” Unlike the majority of polls that seek to measure public opinion, the Just Facts poll was a test of public knowledge. They found that overall 43 percent of Trump’s voters and 31 percent of Clinton’s voters had factual knowledge about the issues. This situation might have been different if the media had focused on the issues rather than the candidate’s personalities.

To be fair, both candidates were entangled in multiple scandals and the public did not approve. As this Aug. 11, Gallup poll indicates, Trump’s and Clinton’s approval ratings were exceptionally low at 32 and 39 percent respectively. It is also true that the public has a right to know the character of the individuals that they are considering for the presidency. Nevertheless, as this Oct. 19, Rasmussen report found, Sixty-two percent of voters say policies are more important to their vote than a candidate’s character.

In the opinion of this writer, the media did us all a disservice by hyper-sensationalizing scandals while downplaying the importance of the issues. By doing so, they created the illusion that Clinton was heading for a landslide victory against Trump who had lower overall approval ratings as reflected in the majority of the polls. Additionally, their focus on scandals to the exclusion of the issues helped to create a polarizing environment wherein Clinton’s supporters have little understanding of the issues that are important to Trump’s voters, and they have become understandably angry in the aftermath of the election.

The next part of this installment will focus on Trump’s electorate and the media.

 

Edited by Ben Webb

Featured image by DonkeyHotey on Flickr, obtained using creativecommons.org

President-elect Donald J. Trump: geography of the Electoral College

Written by Samantha Lindsay

The following report is the second-of-five in the fifth installment in a series presenting a comparative analysis of select legislative proposals that were a part of the platforms of the two major candidates in the 2016 presidential election; Democrat (D) Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican (R), Donald J. Trump. In the four previous installments published before the election, I addressed the candidates’ positions on the issues of paid family leave, the economy, gun control, and the Affordable Care Act.

This series is not an endorsement of either candidate.

 

The Geography of the Electoral College

In the map below (created by Metrocosm), the red areas represent counties won by Trump, and the blue areas represent counties won by Clinton.

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According to the U.S. Geological Survey, “There are 3,141 counties and county equivalents in the 50 States and the District of Columbia.” According to Politico’s most recent county by county election results, Trump won 2,627 counties (84 percent), and Clinton won 514 counties (16 percent).

Many of the blue counties won by Clinton are the locations of the most densely populated urban centers in the country including Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago and New York City among others. Clinton won these cities by large margins. The red parts of the map represent a more broadly dispersed population in small cities, towns, suburbs and rural communities. The greater geographical dispersal of Trump’s voters vs. Clinton’s voters is why Trump won a total of 30 states (while losing the popular vote), thereby winning the Electoral College.

Trump is the fifth president-elect in American history to win the Electoral College after losing the popular vote. The geographical dispersal of Trump’s voters and the results of this election have led some people to conclude that small states are over-represented by the Electoral College. While that is technically true, the results of this election do not demonstrate that small states have a significant advantage in the Electoral College, nor are they exclusively responsible for Trump’s victory.

According to the U.S Census Bureau, the population of the U.S. is 321,418,820. Since there are 538 electors, the national average per state is one Electoral College vote for every 597,433 citizens. The ratio of Electoral College votes per group of citizens in twenty states falls within a range of 100,000 citizens of the national average, +/- 50,000. Nine of these states voted for Clinton and 11 voted for Trump, giving him a two-state victory in this representative set.

Twenty-four of the less populated states and the District of Columbia, by comparison, have a ratio of representation per population giving them more Electoral College votes per group of citizens than the national average. In those 24 states, the average ratio is one Electoral College vote per 400,654 citizens. There are nine small states (and D.C. for a total of 10) that voted for Clinton in this election. There are 14 small states that voted for Trump, giving him a five-state victory in this representative set.

Conversely, there are five states which have fewer Electoral College votes per group of citizens compared to the national average. These include California, Florida, New York, North Carolina and Texas which have an average of one Electoral College vote per every 703,875 citizens. Two of these states (California and New York) voted for Clinton, and three (Florida, North Carolina and Texas) voted for Trump, giving him a four-state victory in this representative set.

Clinton’s margin of victory in the popular vote was 1.6 percent, she only won 16 percent of the counties in the country and she did not win a majority of the states in any representative set. On the other hand, Trump won more states in each representative category in 84 percent of the nation’s counties. Therefore, I conclude that the small states did not have a significant Electoral College advantage in this election. However, if the United States were a direct democracy, the most populous states would have a significant advantage, and the populations of only 16 percent of U.S. counties would have decided the election.
Metrocosm created this three-dimensional representation of the total number of votes, illustrating this point:

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Understanding the Electoral College and the dispersion of the American population does help explain how Trump won. An examination of the media will establish some of the context explaining why Trump’s victory was a surprise to many people. With further clarification, revisiting the electoral college will reveal who voted for Trump, which will help to explain why he won.

The next part of this installment will focus on the polls and the media.

 

Edited by Ben Webb

Featured image by DonkeyHotey on Flickr, obtained using creativecommons.org

President-elect Donald J. Trump: Results

Written by Samantha Lindsay

The following report is the first-of-five in the fifth installment in a series presenting a comparative analysis of select legislative proposals that were a part of the platforms of the two major candidates in the 2016 presidential election; Democrat (D) Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican (R), Donald J. Trump. In the four previous installments published before the election, I addressed the candidates’ positions on the issues of paid family leave, the economy, gun control, and the Affordable Care Act.

This article will begin with an overview of the Electoral College and a breakdown of election results. It will include an analysis of the errors made by the media and polling agencies leading up to the election and a final analysis of the issues that propelled Trump to victory. Throughout this report, I will also be commenting on the issues raised by people who are protesting the outcome of the election.

This series is not an endorsement of either candidate.

 

The Electoral College

The 12th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution governs the Electoral College. According to Tara Ross of the Heritage Foundation, “The Constitution provides for a presidential election among the states, rather than among individuals.” And, “States are allocated one elector for each of their representatives in Congress.”

There are two senators for each of the 50 states, and 435 members of the House of Representatives, bringing the total number of the members of Congress to 535. The Electoral College has 535 electors that represent the 50 states, plus three representing the District of Columbia for a total of 538.

Every state is constitutionally entitled to at least three representatives; therefore, every state is entitled to at least three electors. Several states have more electors based on the U.S. Census and the number of Congressional districts within the state. For example, California has the most electors (55), determined by its population and the total number of its Congressional districts.

The electors are not bound by constitutional law to vote according to the will of the people; however, as a matter of tradition and most state laws, the electors usually cast their vote for president based on the popular vote in their respective states. In the national election, the candidate who wins the vote of a total of 270 electors or more from the Electoral College wins the election.

 

2016 Presidential Election Results

On Nov. 8, Donald J. Trump became the 45th President-elect of the United States when he won the election with a total of 306 Electoral College votes. However, according to the most recent figures reported by CNN, Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton won 64.5 million votes (48.1 percent of the popular vote) to Trump’s 62.4 million votes (46.5 percent of the popular vote). The difference is a margin of 1.6 percent in Clinton’s favor. The discrepancy between the Electoral College and the popular vote has created controversy over the results of this election.

As we have witnessed, it is possible for a presidential candidate to win the popular vote nationally and lose the Electoral College, though it is rare. This possibility has led many people to suggest that the government dispense with the Electoral College and adopt direct democracy. To achieve the goal of direct democracy would require that the Constitution be amended.

The amendment process requires that three-fourths of the state’s legislatures (approximately thirty-eight) approve an amendment before the amendment can be ratified. However, if the U.S. became a direct democracy, it would potentially give the most populated states the power to determine the outcome of all future presidential elections. Therefore, it is unlikely that small states would support direct democracy and the proposed law would never be ratified. Nevertheless, the difference in the results of the Electoral College and the popular vote raises the question, “How did Trump win?”

To answer that question one must first determine where each candidate won, which will explain how Trump won while clarifying who voted for him, and will ultimately reveal why he was elected.

The next part of this installment will focus on the geography of the Electoral College.

 

Edited by Ben Webb

Featured image by DonkeyHotey on Flickr, obtained using creativecommons.org