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Cervantes: The importance of the campaign

BY CHRISTOPHER CERVANTES | APRIL 16, 2015 5:00 AM

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Despite the current year being 2015, it seems as if all eyes are focused on the following year and the inevitable high tension of the 2016 presidential election. Given that I attended school here during the political battle between Joni Ernst and Bruce Braley, I am cautiously enthusiastic to see what the Iowa caucuses will bring.

However, now that Hillary Clinton has (unsurprisingly) announced her intentions to run from office, I found some opinions on the matter of candidate choice that was alarming, to say the least.

I decided to ask around and see who the Hawkeyes seemed to support the most. A good chunk of the answers were Clinton. When I asked about the other candidates, such as Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul, I was on the receiving end of a sea of blank stares. That is when a frightening thought hit me. What if a majority of the masses would be voting for a candidate simply because they were familiar with her or his name?

At first, I began to see how this would make sense. The percentage of incumbent re-elections since 1964-2014 is very high, roughly 93 percent (OpenSecrets.org). The reason behind this occurrence, as most government teachers will tell you, is because the everyday voter is more acquainted with the incumbent candidate. Naturally if this is true, it can be determined that an individual will vote for a presidential candidate because of familiarity.

I was all ready to believe in my little theory when I had a little flashback to 2008 and the victory of Barack Obama. If one were to compare him with the likes of Clinton and John McCain, two politicians who have been in the public eye for decades, the natural assumption would be to discount an up-and-coming Illinois senator as a victim of the early campaigning stages. Yet somehow, that Illinois senator became our president.

“There is a lot of time between now and the election,” said Visiting University of Iowa Assistant Professor of journalism Patrick Wright, who has been nominated for a Pulitzer. “Hillary may be a big name, but she was big in 2008. We could be blindsided by some charismatic politician, or Hillary might turn out to be too set in her ways to win a modern day election. Nothing is certain yet.”

Why does this matter though? Why should we care about the difference in up-and-comers and political veterans? To put it simply, we need to start caring more about the electoral journey of the candidates.

Because there is a large chance that a electoral wild card could upset the entire balance of familiarity and the past actions of an upstart will not be as publicized as a veteran, then we, as citizens and voters, must pay close attention to how the candidates act on the road to the presidency. This will be when each presidential hopeful has their game face on and posses their grade-A material. If a true leader is to emerge, it will be here.

What I want to truly get across with this column is not to jump to conclusions on who should be president. Pay attention to the events to come, and then pick who best represents the needs of the American people.


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