About 150 students gathered Monday afternoon in an Angell Hall auditorium for “Election 2016: Looking Under the Hood and Down the Road,” a panel of University of Michigan’s political science faculty who discussed the recent presidential election as a monumental shift in American politics.
The panel consisted of six LSA faculty members with concentrations in American politics, political psychology, public policy and the Middle East. Each presented an individual response to the election based on their concentration.
Political Science Prof. Lisa Disch moderated the panel and said the event was predominantly a data-based response to the election.
“We in political science are in a position where we’re able to look at the events of the past month in a way that’s about fact, not perception, and we can help explain what might be coming next,” she said.
Each panelist emphasized in their remarks the general uncertainty of the data already collected about the election and the future political climate. Panelist Ted Brader, a professor of political science, discussed the reliability of pre-election polls, emphasizing that they fell ultimately within a fair margin of error but were clearly not infallible.
Results from the general election are still being debated three weeks after the polls have closed. Jill Stein, former Green Party presidential candidate, has filed in two states, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, for a recount and said she plans to petition for a recount in Michigan as well. A group of activists has tried to urge Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to submit as well in these three states, believing a possible cyberattack could have manipulated the results.
In particular, Brader said key constituencies of the Republican and Democratic parties turned out in fewer numbers, which for him demonstrated the inaccuracy within projected voter models.
Following with the theme of partisan politics, panelists Charles Shipan and Jenna Bednar, professors of political science, highlighted possible consequences of a Republican president and Republican Congress.
Shipan said there was large potential for intense debate within Congress regarding the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act. Bednar said the states could experience decreased autonomy that would affect issues such as education, health care and gun control under a unified Congress and presidency.
Political Science Prof. Mark Tessler also posed concerns about a potential departure from current U.S. policies toward the Middle East under a Trump presidency. Trump has called for increased immigration laws over the course of the campaign and has used anti-Islam rhetoric.
“It’d certainly be disturbing if the registration of American Muslims became a reality as Trump has discussed,” Tessler said. “And, what would be the larger implications for anti-Americanism in the Middle East from such action?”
While there were no definite answers about the outcome of the election presented at Monday’s event, Political Science Prof. Nicholas Valentino showed data from his research that concluded gender attitudes and the emotional responses of voters may have contributed to Trump’s election.
“It’s not just the predispositions of voters that matter, it’s also about the emotional state of the public and anger as seen more in Republicans seemed to be much more mobilizing in the public than the fear that dominated the Democrats,” Valentino said.
Rackham student Emmamarie Haasl, a member of the audience, said she found the panel beneficial in processing the results of the election and considering the spectrum of political views.
“I think this was helpful in trying to get into the minds of voters and where they’re coming from in a more clinical way,” Haasl said.
LSA sophomore Dominic Valentino, son of panelist Nicholas Valentino, and LSA senior Lalitha Ramaswamy said they were disappointed at the lack of events initiating dialogue between students on opposite sides of the aisle.
“I was hoping for more of a discussion about how people felt about the election and people that disagreed with what was said today because I think that would be more productive for the campus climate,” Valentino said.
Ramaswamy agreed with Valentino and compared the structure of the panel to discussions sponsored by LSA.
“I think panels like this can help in understanding multiple perspectives, but I think more dialogue is necessary at this point,” she said. “The same people show up to these events and the same ideas are recycled, so using faculty to mediate student discussions could be more beneficial.”