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An Image of Leadership: Which Candidate Has the Right Look?

By Klein Aleardi

Ask any voter and they can describe exactly what each candidate looks like, produce each one’s latest meme, and outline each’s outfit of choice. Hillary will always don a pantsuit, the Trump chooses a red power-tie paired with a toupe, and Bernie puts on his best grandpa face. In today’s political battle field, it’s not just about policy. Candidates are looked at through the lens of a First Lady, where appearance plays a large role and image, age and relatability are at the forefront.

After losing to Hillary by an over-40% gap in South Carolina, the question of whether Sanders’ appearance actually has an effect on the voters or is just another meme generator gained traction.

I took the matter of appearance during candidacy to the image experts at the Fashion Institute of Technology. In a fashion-focused setting such as the design school, their responses returned a mix of barely noticing the subject and embracing the attention to age.

According to FIT sophomore Melanie, Sanders is no different than other candidates—current and past. “They’ve been electing people like him for the past 200 years,” said Melanie. “But it’s just because we recently had a young president. I don’t think he’s any different from the other old white men who have run before.”

The age of the President is a discussion point as old as the candidates themselves. Although no one has been quite as old as Bernie, many are close. And, some have also felt the wrath of that judgmental generation who continues to drag out the matter. In 1986, when President Ronald Reagan turned 75 during his term, a few jokes were made at his expense on “Saturday Night Live.” The then-Weekend Update anchor, Dennis Miller, went as far as comparing Reagan to his grandfather—another common Bernie association.

Professor Leonard Bess, a department-head at FIT, says it’s mostly the older generation—who have always weighed age as an important factor—hating on the Bern’s seniority. “I think for the older individuals it will be a factor,” Bess said. “Probably because it has always been that way.”

Even though those high numbers are often tossed around with the idea of death, that’s not necessarily why people are against him becoming president. Generally—with the exception of some voters—it’s a concern that has been around elections for decades and has little to do with the nominee, says Bess. It’s all about his replacement.

“Really what you’re asking yourself is who will be the vice president,” Bess said. “So you’re looking at the vice president in that case and think, well, I really don’t want him to be president, so then I don’t want the main guy.”

Even without the age factor, Sanders is a stark contrast to the polished diplomacy of other candidates – exception: Trump. As demonstrated by Larry David’s portrayal of the former Vermont governor, which, as usual, wasn’t far off from the real thing, Sanders is a spirited character behind the podium.

“I think his animated speeches is part of why people think he’s crazy and super radical,” Joel Yates, founder of VendMend, said. “I think his approach to the issues is far out there, but I think you have to add some shock value to what you’re saying otherwise it won’t stick.”

That seems to be the approach Donald Trump has chosen, and it’s working. Supporters admire the leading Republican nominee for saying what he means.

On a segment of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver featured a clip from CNN of a female voter stating, “he says what he means, I honestly believe he’s telling the truth.” Another said, “he’s aggressive, he’s strong and he’s bold.” The days of talking policy are fading as candidates like Trump and Bernie introduce their personalities to the country.

But, unlike Trump, what Sanders lacks in traditional diplomacy, he makes up for with his message. FIT student, Allegra Toran, doesn’t care that Sanders’ style differs from Obama’s calm demeanor. While President Obama stares through the camera into your soul to skillfully convince you of his policies, Bernie simply tells it like it is.

Not even Sanders’ fashion distracts his audience, says Toran. Without an attractive face or a dad bod, attendees have nothing to do but listen – a skill Toran believes would be lacking if America chose a female president.

“If a woman were president, they would all be asking who she’s wearing,” Toran said. “They’d be critiquing her outside and not listening to what she’s saying.”

Clinton has already experience her share of fashion criticism – and not always from fashionistas. Although the pantsuit critique was, and still often is, popular in mainstream media, today’s female fashion conversation has taken a turn for the supportive. Women, and men, are defending Hillary’s choice, begging followers to change the subject.

A Forune.com article begins, “Here’s a thought: Let’s stop talking about Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits.” But, even with articles like this, her clothing still makes headlines, often bigger than her policies, and often next to a piece on Trump’s toupe. No matter the candidate, politicians can’t seem to escape the eye of the every-day fashionista.

The best case scenario for the next president is to handle the fashion-crazed followers with as much brilliance as the Obama family. The reigning first family has secured their position as leadership icons and dominated the media spotlight with their fashion and relatability. People have shared dozens of Obama memes, loved their dogs, and idolized Michelle’s arms. Allegra deemed the bunch the modern version of the perfect family.

“Like, back in the day with Dick and Jane, a mom and a dad, with two kids a boy and a girl,” Allegra said. “They’re the perfect family but in an imperfect way. They’re a minority, they have two girls, but they give off this vibe where it’s damn, I want to be a part of that family.”

With such stark differences between President Obama and Sanders, the question of fitting the fashionable—not to mention trendy—mold is up in the air for the democratic nominee. Although many on the college campus are currently unsure of Sanders’ personal life, they do believe it would be busted open with an invitation to the White House.

“I think the reason why the Obamas and their fashion are so much in the media is because he’s in his last term so there’s not much he can get done,” FIT illustration major, Marisa Aguilar, said. “I don’t think that would change for Bernie.”

The Season for Authenticity

By Kenzi Abou-Sabe

The Season for Authenticity

“The fact that [Trump’s] not a career politician is appealing to a lot of people. He’s very no bullshit. I think the American people appreciate that a lot. But I also think Bernie Sanders is the same way. He has his opinions, he’s not pandering, and has great consistency.”

That was twenty-something New Yorker, Justin, discussing the commonalities he thinks presidential candidates Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders share. Justin’s not the only person pointing out similarities between the two populists.

Two seemingly disparate candidates have, and maybe for the first time, successfully stolen the narrative of this election cycle from the establishment.

Forward-looking calls of “hope” and “change” in Obama’s 2008 run have been replaced by an angrier, more frustrated admonition of “establishment” and “the machine.”

The candidates still take selfies and engage in orchestrated games of pickup basketball, but the 2016 election cycle has noticeably shifted into a critical authenticity contest, and the candidates’ game plan is simple.

Neither takes corporate campaign donations. Neither panders to centrism, but actually actively panders to the fringe. And most tellingly, neither was thought to have a shot one year ago.

Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump aren’t running for the presidency as much as running against corporate greed (Sanders) and government mismanagement (Trump).

Neither candidate has made himself particularly available to discuss the nuances of issues outside of his particular rallying point. Instead, the two men have adopted twin strategies in an election that so far has been predicated on the ability to rally people against the status quo.


The Establishment

Some voters perceive Sanders’ authenticity as especially stark when compared to competitor and former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

“The problem is she may be really well qualified, but there’s a lot of history that people may not be that comfortable with,” explained Sally K., a woman in her seventies. “The refreshing thing about Bernie Sanders is he just doesn’t have that much history.”

President Obama recently spoke to Politico about Sanders’ “refreshing” qualities as well.

“Bernie came in with the luxury of being a complete long shot and just letting loose,” he said. “I think Hillary came in with the both privilege—and burden—of being perceived as the front-runner… You’re always looking at the bright, shiny object that people haven’t seen before—that’s a disadvantage to her,” Obama said.

“Most of the people under 29 support Bernie Sanders, and most of the people older than 29 support Hillary Clinton, because to older people, Hillary Clinton is new, and not a man. But to younger people, everything she’s saying is old, or her track record isn’t liberal enough,” said Chris Weiss, a New Yorker in his thirties.

Riding a similar anti-establishment wave, Trump has been arguably more vocal in calling out his own party than he’s been in attacking the Democratic contenders.

In the Greenville, South Carolina GOP debate February 13, Jeb Bush stood on stage and exemplified the Republican establishment’s belief in focusing all critique on the Democrat in office—President Obama—while Trump taunted Jeb as “weak,” and repeatedly called the foreign policy of his brother, former President George W. Bush, a “disaster.”

Three weeks later, Trump continues to rack up delegates, and the younger Bush is no longer in the running.


Inspiring People to Care…Again

Trump has somehow successfully tapped into Republican voters’ desires for a passionate and authentic critique of the current state of their party.

“Lately it seems like candidates look good on paper, but don’t make you feel patriotic, and I guess both of them do make you feel patriotic, in one way or another,” Weiss intoned.

Getting voters fired up against the way things are isn’t a remotely novel campaign strategy—Obama’s “hope and change” campaign tapped into that sentiment, and wasn’t the first to do so.

In fact, David Axelrod, Obama’s campaign manager for both his Senate race and eventual underdog presidential win—not to mention the man who reportedly coined both “hope and change” and “Yes we can!”—has chalked up the success of their campaigns to just that.

“When incumbents step down, voters rarely opt for a replica of what they have, even when that outgoing leader is popular. They almost always choose change over the status quo. They want successors whose strengths address the perceived weaknesses in the departing leader,” Axelrod wrote in his memoir, “Believer: My Forty Years in Politics.”

Tad Devine, who currently advises the Sanders campaign, has a similar approach, but rather than focusing on a promising future, he critiques the present in a way that necessitates Sanders’ future of choice.

Because Sanders has vowed not to engage in attack ads, Devine—whose firm’s attack ads are considered the best in politics—is left in the curious predicament of having to generate negativity around Clinton without explicitly doing so.

Devine calls this strategy “embedding,” because it plants negative messages about Clinton’s record in social media and campaign ads. The efficacy of that campaign has been pretty apparent to anyone who’s had the pleasure of hearing frustrations about Clinton from a “Bernie bro.”

Somehow, the Sanders campaign has inspired liberal Democrats to the tune of Obama’s grassroots popularity, but by harnessing an anger that more closely mirrors the sentiment of Trump’s voters.


On the Issues

The benefits in perception and popularity that both Trump and Sanders have reaped by behaving authentically are fairly apparent. The crossover in their policies is certainly less so.

Lax on gun control, tight on immigration and free trade, and morally opposed to the Iraq War, the native New Yorkers actually agree on a number of policies.

After all, the men are most popular among the far wings of their parties. For Trump, that means he’s garnered fans from the religious right and Tea Party, while Sanders has successfully courted both the fiscal far left and liberal Millennial youth.

“People are angry about the same thing. They don’t like politics as usual,” Weiss explained, “Nothing’s been happening in Washington for so long,” he continued, “So somebody who’s not a part of the system needs to, you know, shake things up.”

If you rule out the possibility of coincidence and really attempt to understand the overlap that exists between the disparate men, their common views actually point to an untapped centrism that exists in this country.

A centrism of belief that doesn’t involve perpetuation of the status quo, but actually represents the common interests of Americans on opposite ends of the political spectrum.

It sounds a bit like a utopian pipe dream, but Pulitzer Prize-nominated Ronald Brownstein of The Atlantic made a case for that very potential in his latest editorial.

“Sanders and Trump are rising largely because they are amplifying the voices of constituencies that have usually been outshouted in fights for their party’s nomination,” Brownstein wrote, “By demonstrating—and crystallizing—these groups’ electoral clout, each man is signaling a lasting internal power shift in the party he is seeking to lead.”

Brownstein notes how the GOP—historically controlled by the party’s white-collar constituency—has largely ignored the candidates most popular among its blue-collar, working class segment for the last 60 years.

That zone of tension is where ideas cherished by blue-collar Republicans diverge from the rest of their party, and actually align with the views held by many middle class Democrats.

Blue-collar Republicans “are more likely to support temporarily banning Muslims from entering the U.S. and deporting all undocumented immigrants,” Brownstein writes, but notes that they are also, “more hostile to free trade or cuts in federal entitlement programs for the elderly,” sentiments most on the left would share.

Trump and Sanders both appear aware of this common, frustrated swing vote. Each candidate has gone on the Sunday talk shows and claimed that he could poach the other’s voters, but the notion raises two important questions.

Could either candidate actually ride his anti-establishment popularity into a general election? And if so, who would win in a match-up between the two?

“I don’t want an establishment person to win, but I think it’ll end up looking like Iowa, where it’s so close, but not quite,” Weiss admitted, though he estimated that Sanders would have more potential than Trump in a general election.

“I think Bernie would win. He is less hateful, and I think more people can associate with helping people than being against people. I don’t think Trump would get Bernie voters. I think Bernie could get Trump voters. The people who would vote for Bernie Sanders would be so ideologically opposed to anything in the Republican Party at all,” he explained.


What Authenticity Looks Like

“I think a lot of it has to do with image. If you just showed people a picture of this crazy, white-haired old man—whereas Trump is probably equally crazy, but he’s charismatic, he’s kind of a sweet-talker,” Justin started, “So I think for the average, uninformed American, [Trump] seems like a president, and that goes a lot further than people think.”

The tenets of charisma and appearance that became requisite in politics after John F. Kennedy have been working for the candidates in unexpected ways, and it isn’t just their ideas that are refreshing to voters.

“I mean it’s really time for an old Jew to run the country,” Sally K. deadpanned.

Describing Sanders, she continued, “He’s like the old guy down the street that’s been in business 40 years and he shows up every day and nothing bothers him. Recession, weather, he’s there every day. That’s who he reminds me of. That person who would show up and do his job and really be unflappable.”

“I think Trump’s more electable,” Justin admitted, “He has wider appeal I think. Conservatives really like him, even religious conservatives, which I think is strange, because he’s really not religious at all. He has the name recognition.”


The White Guy Factor

Behind the lambast, and the passion, and the staunch difference from their existing playing fields, there is one ideological commonality between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders that supersedes the rest.

Both men are appealing to a certain sect of Americans who believe that government is both the problem and the solution. Some argue that demographic is white people who can’t seem to grasp why their country has been taken from them.

Nowhere in America has this fact been as evident as in Iowa leading up to its caucus.

Canadian writer Stephen Marche covered the affair for The Guardian.

“The Bernie Sanders rally in Davenport was the precise opposite of the Donald Trump rally in Burlington and yet precisely the same in every detail. ‘Make America Great Again’ was replaced by ‘Feel the Bern’” Marche continued, “The same specter of angry white people haunts Saunders’s rally, the same sense of longing for a country that was, the country that has been taken away.”

Trump’s fans have scapegoated immigrants and minorities, while Sanders’s look to the one percent as the cause of their problems, but both groups are extraordinarily unhappy with the way things are in the United States.

“The fundamental difference between the Trump and Sanders crowd,” Marche continued, “was that the Sanders crowd has more money, the natural consequence of the American contradiction machinery: rich white people can afford to think about socialism, the poor can only afford their anger.”

To reduce Trump and Bernie fans to the trope of “angry white people” is neither fair, nor remotely nuanced enough to be accurate, but justified or no, the trend exists, and attempting to tease out the small shreds of meaning in that strange coincidence reveals quite a bit about the 2016 electorate.

Now we just wait, and watch to see how it all plays out.


Does Bernie Need To Be A Fashionista?

By Ali Guglielminetti

Joel likes Bernie Sanders because of his stance on free tuition, but his father questions Bernie because of his wild white hair. Who is the superficial one?

But now for the harder question–who is the more mature voter?

Assessments ranging from adorable grandpa and Santa sans beard to simply just ‘ugly’ are constantly made of Bernie. His age, his animated demeanor, and his less than polished outfits cause some voters to wonder if this political figure has what it takes to lead our country.

Yet all of these issues come down to simple questions of physicality and do not reflect the political ideas that Bernie stands for. Or do they?

“I think he’s kind of kooky old man, he has a lot of really great, really big ideas,” Joel Yates, a FIT student explains of Bernie,“I’m not sure if his appearance is something that our generation is too concerned about, I think a lot of my friends are more concerned about the issues.” Yates agrees that Bernie’s tactics are a little unorthodox, but these methods only secure his support, “I think his approach to the issues is far out there, but I think you have to add some shock value to what you’re saying otherwise it won’t stick.”

Yates explained that when speaking about politics with his father, his father questions his support of Bernie, yet his father’s criticism of Bernie is simply that he’s crazy. “Older generations, I feel like [they] are like here’s another kooky white man from Vermont,” said Yates, “I think his animated speeches are part of why people think he’s crazy and super radical.”

Yates attributes this perspective of his father, at least partially, to Bernie’s appearance and overall presence explaining, “he’s very animated and uses a lot of hand gestures, which contributes to the whole ‘kooky old man [impression]” and makes people say, ‘oh he’s crazy and super radical’.”

Younger generations, while noting Bernie’s characteristic features (good or bad), believe that Bernie’s ideas speak louder. Older generations, on the other hand, seem to be caught up in these physical characteristics and the belief that physical features reveal inherent craziness.

Regardless of the reasoning, the older generations are clearly not as supportive of Bernie as liberal millennials. Iowa entrance polls showed 84 percent of voters aged 17 to 29 give their support to Sanders, with this percentage consistently dropping with each increase in age demographic.

F.I.T. Professor Leonard Bess, affirms, “I think if the message is good and the message is strong, you can get equal footing. It just depends on what you have to say.” While this may be the belief, Bess also explains that, “Obama has a pattern to his speech that really is dynamic and grabs you.” Bess explained that while the candidate’s ideas are the important aspects, there is still something appealing about a candidate who presents himself well.

Bernie’s age is another physical deterrent for many voters. “I think for the older individuals it will be a factor,” Bess said. “Probably because it has always been that way.” Perhaps surprisingly, older voters seem to be the first to doubt Bernie because of his seniority.

Rationally, generations acknowledge that the beliefs of a candidate are what really matter and what they should base their conclusions on, yet it is impossible to completely separate an individual from their physical form, and perhaps slightly less superficial, how the candidate chooses to present themselves.

Generation Y is listening to Bernie, and they appreciate his ideas and passion. With Bernie advocating for women’s rights, LGBT equality, and affordable college tuition, it is understandable that the younger generation feels a connection to Bernie’s ideas. With such a strong connection to Bernie evident to the younger generations, the criticism of Bernie by older generations may not be restricted to his appearance.

When asked about Bernie, all generations seem to acknowledge his quirks, but younger generations confirm that his ideas are appealing, and that is really what matters. The question is are generation Y-ers ignoring the quirks or are the older generations magnifying them?

Allegra Toran, a Fine Arts major at FIT confirms, “Bernie is not impressive to look at, so you…don’t care what he looks like at that point, and if there’s nothing to look at, you listen.”

Toran somewhat affectionately describe Bernie explaining, “he’s adorable, he’s old…[he’s a] little man probably in his late 70s (and he looks it), he has an adorable Brooklyn accent and he has cute little white hairs that are going bald at the top.” All of these features equating to what Toran believes to be an appealing candidate, but might forfeit the vote for others.

Though Toran deems Bernie’s Brooklyn accent “adorable,” I would think twice before letting my own accent slip, and ask for “wawter” or “cawffee” at a job interview, for the same reason that I would not show up in jeans. When looking for someone to fill a certain position, presentation is one of the only available factors–this is much the same for a presidential candidate.

College students, like Toran, have more to say about his ideas and his passion rather than grasping onto his sometimes disheveled appearance. Toran again highlights the idea that while there are clear differences between Bernie and the Obamas, “it’s like not necessarily the way [Bernie] says it but what he’s says.”

Looks may not strongly influence Generation Y however, Toran does comment that if Bernie were to become president, “Putin would feel like he could walk all over him.” This point yet again indicating the struggle of appearance. While a number of voters are happy to disregard Bernie’s looks and affirm that his ideas are solid rather than critiquing his fashion sense, there can never be a complete disconnect or ignorance of how one presents himself.

Eyes are always on the White House, both the President and the first family are always on display to the entire world as symbols of the United States. Perhaps the older generations are not using fashion and other superficial critiques to cover their fundamental disagreement with Bernie, but the idea of “presidential appearance” is a criteria that these older generations are more inclined to include in their judgments.


Marco Rubio – The King of Momentum by Danielle Lukacs

In his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, Senator Marco Rubio has become the unofficial king of momentum. He has consistently faced setbacks during the primary and caucus stage, but has managed to spin those setbacks into opportunities to boost his momentum.


With several key caucuses and primaries behind us, all of the 2016 presidential candidates continue to vigorously campaign. During presidential election years these electoral events receive a substantial amount of media coverage and they have historically been important markers of candidate popularity and momentum.


Whether or not these events have a noteworthy effect on the final popular vote for president remains unclear. However, it is worth noting their relationship to popularity and momentum, more specifically, in terms of this year’s presidential candidate, Senator Marco Rubio.


After the Iowa Caucus, Senator Rubio was gaining momentum. He received 23.1% of the vote trailing closely behind Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz. With the remaining candidates each receiving less than 10% of the vote, this third place finish was a significant step toward becoming a viable alternative.


According to a poll conducted during the week before the New Hampshire Primaries by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, support for Senator Rubio increased putting him ahead of Senator Cruz. His presence in the Republican race was clear.


Raoul Hernandez, 59, a Miami businessman and Rubio supporter, explained, “I was so confident coming out of the caucus. Everything seemed like it was falling into place. It was shocking to see how quickly things turned for him.”


Senator Rubio’s momentum leading into the Republican debate days before the primary was undeniable. However, after an incredibly disappointing debate performance the Republican race would change in a way no one could have anticipated. Support for Senator Rubio would drop significantly leading to a fifth place finish in New Hampshire.


Natalie Loos, 30, a New York businesswoman and Rubio supporter didn’t seem too worried about Rubio’s poor performance. She explained, “I think he’s going to be fine. I really don’t think one debate is going to ruin his chance completely.”


Loos was right. Rubio was fine.


Senator Rubio used his New Hampshire loss to increase his momentum heading into South Carolina. At an event in South Carolina before the primary, Rubio explained that he was “at peace” with what had happened and was ready to move forward with God on his side.


Rubio’s faith seemed to be the focus of much of his campaigning in South Carolina. In an attempt to move away from the robotic style Governor Chris Christie called him out for during the New Hampshire debate debacle, Rubio went for a more candid, personal approach. His strategy worked.


Senator Rubio took second place in South Carolina Primary by a narrow margin of .2% ahead of Senator Cruz and finished 10% behind Trump.


In a statement after the primary he, explained, “Tonight here in South Carolina the message is pretty clear. This country is now ready for a new generation of conservatives to guide us into the 21st century.”
Rubio has demonstrated an ability to change loss into opportunity. In a sense, he has created his own momentum, but it is unclear whether or not this will be enough to secure him the nomination.


In a way, it seems almost peculiar that voters welcomed the results of the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries with sentiments of disbelief rather than expectation. As one of the most gripping and engaging election races in the nation’s history featuring some of the most controversial and questionable candidates that the country has seen, one is not mistaken in seeing it to be ironically fitting that the first tests of voting seemed surprising.

On 1 Feb., fiercely unpopular Texan senator, Ted Cruz, astoundingly lead the Republican nominees with the most number of Iowa Caucus votes received by a single candidate, while anticipated Democratic pick, Hillary Clinton, beat wild-card favorite, Bernie Sanders, by an almost negligible 0.3%. Eight days later at the New Hampshire presidential primary, projected favorites prevailed on both sides; Donald Trump won with 36% of the Republican votes while Sanders secured 60% of Democratic vote. What astonished many about the results was, in fact, the unpredicted voter confidence in the runner-ups. The conservative Ohio governor, John Kasich, seemingly an understated success in the Republican campaign, came up second in the polls with 16% of the votes, while in the Democratic corner; Clinton obtained only 38% of the vote

Although these outcomes dutifully follow the surprising nature of the run up to the 2016 presidency, they create doubt that questions the nature of the ignited trajectory, the ‘momentum effect’, if you will, which these initial voting processes and their conclusions bring rise to, and how it will affect traditional candidates in their race to the White House.

The Political Impetus, the Big Mo, and so on, all refer to a single hypothesis. Momentum is part of the jargon frequently included in political coverage, and with 4,710,000 hits when searched on Google, it’s easy to see why one would have difficulty in getting to the root definition. Familiar to those with an ounce of understanding of science, momentum broadly describes the thrust gained by an object in motion. In a colloquial political sense, it implies that a force or push applied to a candidate’s campaign will allow for advancement. Political pundits seem to be in two minds of the term’s validity. Editor-in-chief of ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver, put for his apprehension of the word’s use in a New York Times article back in 2012, stating, “this notion is a bit dubious… my research suggests that a candidate who gains ground in polls one month is no more likely to do so in the next month.” Most would note the cynicism of Silver’s conviction. Steven Brams is one to discount it without reluctance.

Game theorist and political scientist, Brams, is best known for his published works, such as “The Presidential Election Games” that delve into systems of choice theories to be applied to voting systems. The 75-year-old sits down in his office that is adorned up with impressive book collections and views of New York University’s Stern School of Business, to shed some light on the concept.

“There is no question of whether momentum exists,” he claims. “Momentum is created, and it slowly filters down. Chances are if you do badly in Iowa, it is very unlikely you’ll recover. We’ve seen instances like in 2008, with Clinton’s recovery and fighting Obama up until June, but those are simply exceptions. Caucasus and primaries bring a momentum which is important, however the momentum itself is not wholly decisive.”

The significance of the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primary is indisputable. As the initial two large-scale and integral electoral events that commence the run-up to the presidential nomination, the Caucuses and Primary are said to illuminate superior candidates by giving local voters a chance to interact with contenders, thus creating a mass sentiment surrounding the aspirants as to whether they indeed have political potential and executive substance, or not. Although the minor and seemingly unrepresentative states should feasibly not have the immense impact that they do on the election race, one can argue that, as the preliminary hurdles to presidency, history indicates that they do indeed build momentum that carries on with winners past the final stage of the official appointment.

For instance, Jimmy Carter secured a presidential win after a major Iowa Caucuses success that stemmed from his campaign spending a year appealing to voters in the state in 1976, and current POTUS, Barack Obama, won by a landslide with 80.91% of the vote in the 2012 New Hampshire Primary. The instances of this hypothesis in action go on, and serve as a reminder that the candidates whilst contesting for a favorable standing in the polls, are indeed struggling to acquire the historically elusive and advantageous momentum.

“People who do well in NH, to a lesser extent in Iowa, generally go on to win. But there are exceptions. Hillary won in NH [in 2008] and she lost! So it’s also the quality of candidates that matter,” Brams asserts.

However, it is fair to assume that the lack of conventionality of the current election race can give rise to a distinct departure from historical norms. Present leaders, Sanders and Trump, embody the impulse of radical principles and provocative promises, with one assuring free college education for all and the other guaranteeing national security through “bombing the sh*t out of ISIS”, and continuing to ride the wave of momentum, it is evident that voters are resonating with their ideologies. But where does that leave the traditional presidential candidate?

In considering what it means to be a ‘traditional candidate’, we can look at what it means to be presidential. Many would describe it simply as a qualified individual, with extensive experience in the line of work in question. They would, hopefully, appeal to the masses with their dignity, confidence, and willingness to cease, begin, and continue the policies and realities in favor of their constituency. Hillary Clinton, having already been the progressive selection with her campaign attempt to be the first female president in 2008, succeeds as being one of the most qualified candidates in the race. As the former first lady, United States Senator, and Secretary of State, Clinton entered the existing race with undeniable and unparalleled experience. John Kasich is another noteworthy candidate whose background speaks volumes of his capabilities. Incumbent Governor of Ohio and past Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Kasich served nine terms as a member of the United States House of Representatives. As the two accomplished contenders lag behind their controversial competitors in these early stages, the problem arises as to how Big Mo will impact them and how they can use it in their favor.

26-year-old college student, Travis Heppard, confirms his support for Clinton, claiming substance in her methods for speeding up economic recovery as well as her expertise in working with the Republican Party. “I support Hillary,” he begins. Attributing the momentum her opponent Sanders is benefiting from to the his likeness to the current POTUS, he continues, “I believe in everything Bernie wants to do, but I also believe in progress. Bernie’s Campaign reminds me of Obama in 2008, Obama was very positive, uplifting, and his policy proposals were very similar to Bernie. In my opinion Bernie is Obama 2.0.” Pointing a finger at the allure of the anti-establishment attitude that today’s front-runners hold, Heppard believes that the Caucuses and Primary have sought to lend assistance in helping White House hopefuls, like Clinton, figure out what is not working within her campaign. What can gain her some favorable momentum? Unrelenting assertion of her capacities. “Right now people think Bernie and Hillary have two completely different ideologies,” he clarifies, “Hillary needs to show the passion Bernie does, while proving she is the only one in the race that can actually get things done.”

She doesn’t just want to carry on the Obama policies, she wants to improve on them and keep this country moving in the right direction,” Linda Tomasello asserts. With a belief that Sanders is making empty vows to young voters and that Benghazi was instrumental in smearing the Clinton name, Tomasello identifies what keeps Clinton from being a key front-runner in the early Caucuses and Primary but pays little heed to her performance in both events. “I think momentum says a lot when it comes to elections but I’ve never put much stock in the Iowa caucus or New Hampshire primary because there are too many white voters and not enough minorities,” says the outspoken democrat, “this country is a melting pot of cultures and areas like Iowa and New Hampshire do not represent that diversity.” The martial arts instructor who recently married her same-sex partner of 20 years trusts that the gaining momentum of Republican leaders will not falter her Democratic loyalties, saying, “I can’t imagine what will happen to all of Obama’s progress if a Republican wins the White House.”

The conviction in Kasich’s supporters is similarly steadfast and unfazed by the results in Iowa and New Hampshire. John Garcia admits that as a Cuban American, it is hard not to intuitively support like candidates (namely one Marco Rubio), but acknowledges that at the end of the day any serious American would want a leader with the best vision and experience required to lead the nation. The 44-year-old New Jersey native is touched by Kasich’s demeanor, and says, “I see John as a person with a heart and values that resonate with me.  He puts the benefit of the country before party politics. He is also not blindly Republican and can move right or left enough without compromising beliefs.” His impassioned views of Kasich remained unchanged with his poor performance in Iowa, confirming, “What is revealed in polls will tend to sway votes and garner momentum.  However, I am not one of those people influenced by that. I am much more impacted by debates and the candidate’s history and record. I don’t get caught up in anyone else’s opinion when it comes to electing a president.  To me, it’s very personal and each person has his or her reason for voting for a particular candidate. Post Kasich’s New Hampshire accomplishment, Garcia’s disposition turned more impassioned, as he proudly asserted that the essence of political momentum has now made its way to Kasich’s campaign.

Whether or not we apply a technical term to reasoning the consistent increase in supporters, it’s evident why achievement in Iowa and New Hampshire is as critical as it is. Looking at the aftermath of both, Brams stresses, “I think it has already impacted campaign strategies. I think she’s become much more of a person telling her personal story, since she’s realized she cant coast on campaign rhetoric she has to appeal to voters individually as a person. She’s not doing the orchestrated small meetings; she’s trying to appeal to personally to voters, specifically women. We’ll see if that works.” He backtracks slightly to draw attention to how candidates approach either state, “They make calculations on which electorate to bet on. Kasich for example has put much more of an investment on New Hampshire.” With his New Hampshire scores in, it’s clear that Kasich played his cards right. But what pushes candidates to focus their efforts on one of the states rather than the other? Taking Republican favorite, Trump, as an example, Brams justifies why his lacking performance in Iowa was not only simply a minor bump, but also expected, “Trump’s not the kind of good Christian that many Iowa voters were looking for, why should he make a major effort if he’s not attractive to them in the first place? New Hampshire is a more liberal state. He should, as he’s doing, make more of an effort there and downplay Iowa.” Winning New Hampshire won him a little more credibility, he believes, and will sustain his political up thrust.

Voters echo this sentiment, claiming that educated voters consider the demographics of the two states and so place less importance to results arising from polling in them. Tomasello elaborates, “This country is a melting pot of cultures and areas like Iowa and New Hampshire do not represent that diversity. After Nevada and South Carolina votes, where the majority of voters are African American and Hispanic, I think whoever wins those primaries are truly going to have the momentum.”

Staunch supporters of the traditionalists have taken in the two election events and have strong thoughts on how their candidates of choice can seek to lock in of the political momentum effect. Kasich backers affirm that he must start increasing his presence in the public eye. Garcia asserts, “He has to do more media and advertising so he’s on top of people’s’ minds with his consistent messages.” 52-year-old online retail business owner, Lucy Salva, complains that bias in media coverage is to blame, “media coverage has been little for anyone but Trump.” Clinton’s enthusiasts maintain that unwarranted widespread questioning of her honesty with regards to the email leak and Benghazi, are keeping Clinton from accessing the push she needs to achieve a fair boost in the polls. Tomasello adds, “If Hillary begins to fall behind, I hope she keeps telling the truth, getting her message of equality out and doesn’t engage in negative campaigning. I think that’s all we as her supporters could ask of her.”

With no end in sight to the oddities of the nomination race, audiences and electors alike are will be spectating a race that is guaranteed to see established contenders vie with bewildering leaders of the poll tables, for a chance to claim a top spot to start them on a trail that will give them the ever-enticing driving force that’ll sustain them past the final lap. Meanwhile, we’re all in for ride.

Brams leans back slightly and folds his hands, and begins thinking aloud, “This election is a circus. And people like circuses! That’s what exciting. Even though there are favorites, there is not an overwhelming favorite. People are expecting interesting things, so that makes it more gripping. We still don’t know what will happen afterwards…Races usually come down to the top two. Frontrunners gobble up all the money. And things could become more interesting if Bloomberg enters…”

For Trump, Momentum Is Name Of The Game – Carson Behre

Super Tuesday was a good day for Trump. Off the heels of his winner take all victory in South Carolina, and strong showing in Iowa and New Hampshire, Trump took nearly every state besides Minnesota and Texas on Super Tuesday and is looking to use that delegate lead and media coverage to win Michigan today.


It’s a little perplexing to see Trump doing so well, and it in many ways goes against conventional political wisdom as to how people vote for a president. For example,  Paul A., 25, said at Penn Station that he liked Trump because he “brought energy to an otherwise boring race that I would have never really cared about otherwise. He’s likable.” But is that all that is fueling his success?


Despite being outspent nearly 2 to 1 by both Rubio and Cruz, he has carved into their bases of support in the South and with Midwestern evangelicals and very nearly caused the Republican Party to enter open revolt. Though he may seem crass or stupid, the secret to his success lies behind his boisterous and bigoted persona– Trump is an expert campaigner and he has utilized the media to give him the exposure and momentum that other candidates have to buy commercials and send letters to get. Then, after winning big in the early states, Trump plans to ride that wave all the way to the nomination.


Momentum is best defined for politics just as it is in physics – a force in motion takes an equal and opposite force to stop it, and if it doesn’t, that force keeps on going. It is also useful to break it down into two parts. One is how much the voters in later states are impacted by the voters and outcomes of earlier states. The second is the amount of and tone of the media coverage a candidate is getting as a result of those voter outcomes. Both are immensely influential on voters, and voters in swing states especially are tuned in to this. It is why a December 2010 study by Brian Knight and Robert Schiff of Brown University looking at the 2004 Democrat primary showed that Kerry’s early wins blew open a wide lead over Howard Dean and concludes that “early voters had up to five times the influence of late voters in the selection of candidates and helped determine advertising expenditures.”


George H.W. Bush popularized the concept of momentum in political campaigning in his failed 1980 bid for the Republican nomination, saying “now they will be after me, howling and yowling at my heels. What we will have is momentum. We will look forward to Big Mo being on our side, as they say in athletics.” Since then sociologists and psychologists have used momentum to describe many large-scale examples of behavioral changes in response to large-scale events. It’s closely related to the “bandwagon effect,” where ideas and trends are more easily accepted if a large amount of people has already adopted them.


Trump by far has the most media attention in this race. A December study by the nonpartisan Tyndall Report, which tracks media coverage and acts as a watchdog group, showed that in 2015 Trump received 234 minutes of coverage on the big 3 network news (CBS, ABC, and NBC Nightly News). In comparison over the same period Clinton was covered for 113 minutes and Jeb Bush for 53. The Democrats’ anti-establishment candidate, Bernie Sanders, received just a paltry 10 minutes despite occupying much the same role as Trump but on the left side of the political spectrum.


Berning Up

  • Sanders surprised voters by sneaking up right behind Clinton in Iowa, generating a momentum that analysts say will push him forward in the primaries. “Sanders gained momentum with his better-than-expected showing in Iowa and he’ll win New Hampshire, which is another boost.” Jose Hernandez Mayoral, Democratic Delegate


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