Dr. Susan McManus on Motivation, Money & Media in Presidential Election
By Renee Burrell
Dr. Susan McManus; University of South Florida distinguished professor of government and international studies, shared her insights from the Presidential election and exit polls with the Belleair Women's Republican Club's (BWRC) November 7 meeting at the Belleair Country Club.
Dr. McManus is an off-quoted political analyst for Tampa's NBC affiliate station-WFLA-TV. She also writes for the Safety Review with one of her students and has co-written a book about Florida with her mother.
"You can't say it's not a great election when you have so many people wanting to vote," said Dr. McManus.
McCain's campaign and the GOP's lack of motivation was a reason for his loss, according to Dr. McManus who sited an "enthusiasm gap" and said, "From the get-go the Democrats were more enthusiastic…. though Sarah Palin charged them a up a bit. Polls determined that sixty nine percent said Governor Palin helped McCain. Were she not on the ticket, the election would not have been so close."
Dr. McManus is for the Republicans taking back their game plan. ""The Democrats took the GOP's playbook from 2000 and ran with it. The Dems went after young voters and were successful in registering minority voters, mostly African American and Latin Americans."
Dr. McManus explained that Florida, in a sense, is the nation in a microcosm.
"In Florida how they went, so went the nation…The I4 Corridor was once again where it was won or lost."
She said the larger portion of Florida voters now are the baby boomers who lean Democrat. "When the meltdown on Wall Street happened, they were worried about their pensions and retirement funds."
Dr. McManus thought the GOP has to work diversity into the party because of changing demographics and gave a breakdown illustrating why, "In Florida, African Americans make up 12% of the vote and Hispanic Americans 13%. . . This was the second presidential election in a row where Latin Americans outnumbered African Americans. Younger non-Cuban Hispanics voted Democrat as well as Jewish who stayed with the party."
However, she found that according to the exit polls, Latinos from Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela leaned toward McCain from experiences learned through oppression in their own countries.
She also suggested that the GOP needs to beef up voter registration efforts because, "Registering them is the first step in winning." And the GOP should target disinterested voters, like college students because, "There are now more voters under age 35 than there are age 65…Obama's campaign had the foresight to target college campuses."
Today the most solid block of Democratic voters nationwide are the 30 and under age group. Obama campaigners reached out to the young using the latest communication technologies and social networking and as Dr. McManus pointed out, "Kept in contact and made them feel that their vote was critical."
Money was another factor for McCain's loss and Obama's victory. "No other candidate has come close to raising as much as the Obama campaign did. Before the election we were all talking about it being a 'billion dollar election'. It turned out to be a 5.8 billion dollar election", Dr McManus said.
The media's overall coverage in favor of Obama was another reason Dr. McManus believed McCain lost. A Rasmussen poll of reporters revealed that, "Most reporters admitted to helping Obama. Only 7% said they were trying to help McCain."
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