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ISSUE 116 VOL 6 PUBLISHED 10/18/2002

Voting Demographics Shift

By Anonymous
Contributing Writer


Friday, October 18, 2002

Dan Hofrennings speech, “Something Old, Something New: Election 2002” presentation outlined several circumstances that the 2002-2003 election candidates are currently facing. Hofrenning, political science professor and department chair, hosted the brown bag lunch seminar held on Thursday, Oct. 8, which welcomed faculty, staff and students as well as retired faculty and staff members. The Viking Theater housed the political discussion, where Hofrenning provided his audience with a background on the events in American politics, which have paved the way for the upcoming elections. “As an institution, political parties are not that popular. People vote for the people and not for the political party,” said Hofrenning. Hofrenning described the fate of political parties and questioned how they have endured for so many years. In recent decades, party identification has decreased among citizens. Likewise, a shift in geographic voting patterns has occurred, creating a “red America” and a “blue America.” These terms have been widely used after the presidential election of 2002 where the states that Democrat Al Gore won were represented in blue and Republican George W. Bush in red. The demographics have changed significantly since the 1930s when Franklin Roosevelt created the New Deal coalition, which attracted both the southern Baptist farmers and urban New York Jews. As a result, the Democrats were able to take over portions of the north, stealing votes away from the Republicans, who had generally captured the votes in northern states. Currently, the Republicans have been able to win elections in states where the Democrats used to conquer votes. Hofrenning detailed the category of voters saying that 70 percent of people with higher levels of income and education vote in elections regularly, while generally only 30 percent of voters with low levels of income and education vote. In Europe, the correlation between education and voting numbers does not have the same effect, perhaps because citizens are allowed to miss work to vote. Although Minnesota makes it easy for its citizens to vote by allowing people to register at its precinct on election day, many still do not make it to the polls. I think Election Day should be a National Holiday, said an audience member. According to Hofrenning, a rise in voters has been known to help the Democrats win the election. If the nation were to declare Election Day a national holiday, perhaps more Democrats would vote, swaying the election a different way. Since an increasing number of voters are not identifying with a particular party, a rise in independent parties is developing. Although independent parties are on the rise, “the strength of independent parties does not seem to be there,” said Hofrenning. In order to become stronger, Hofrenning said that Independent parties need to build a coalition. Ventura did not have the power base or the people to call on when he needed support. Hofrenning gave a quick run down of primary day, expressing that “it did not give us a reason to vote. The candidates went largely unchallenged.” Primaries were held late this year on Tues. Sept 10, leaving little time for the candidates to come back with new ideas before election day.





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