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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Age, race less of a factor than party loyalty”

    During the 2008 Presidential Election, there has been an elephant in the room for both Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain. Kate Kenski wants to figure out if the American people care.

    Kenski, an assistant communication professor, is giving a lecture at noon today at the Arizona Inn titled, “”Campaign Dynamics in the 2008 Presidential Election.””

    “”I will be discussing the extent to which the campaign has changed people’s attitudes towards race and gender and taking a look at how people’s perception of candidates’ age has affected their vote choice,”” Kenski said.

    The majority of Americans tend to look at candidates and, based on their own party affiliation, then try to disagree with the opposing candidate, Kenski said.

    “”Age certainly does play a factor, however, having said that the people who are most likely to believe that McCain is too old were democrats to begin with,”” Kenski said. “”It might be just as much a validation of their own beliefs rather than it actually changing their opinions about him.””

    Barbara Norrander, a political science professor, said that this election has created a whole new set of characteristics by which people can judge candidates.

    “”In the past, all of the candidates have been white males,”” Norrander said. “”This is the first time that we have had to make a different set of choices.””

    Most people are still making their decisions based on policies, issues and, maybe most of all, party lines as opposed to age, race or gender, Kenski said.

    “”People tend to project their own feelings onto what they’re seeing, and so I think that is certainly the case with the candidates,”” Kenski said. “”If it had been reversed and we had a Republican who was 47 and a Democrat who was 71, it would probably be Republicans making the argument that the candidate was too old.””

    The last time an election faced anything close to the current set of circumstances, the main issue was centered on the candidate’s religion, Norrander said.

    “”You could compare it to perhaps the 1960 election with John Kennedy, where Catholics got very excited about his nomination and his run for the presidency,”” Norrander said. “”He did lose a few votes from Protestants who did not want to vote for a Catholic, so there is something maybe similar to that now, but we won’t know until the election.””

    Regardless of the election’s outcome, Kenski said that the current election has definitely shifted many Americans’ points of view.

    “”I think that this election has actually improved people’s ability to see a black person as president or to see a female as president,”” Kenski said. “”There is still a significant portion of people in the United States who say outright that they don’t think the U.S. is ready for a black president or say they don’t think the U.S. is ready for a female president.””

    In the end, Kenski said that the election would come down to the major issues and the fact that most Americans feel that there is a problem with the current regime.

    “”In a lot of ways, this presidential race was in the Democrats’ court. It was one for them to lose, and so, without serious missteps, it’s made it much harder for the Republicans to gain ground.””

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