Agenda-setting and the Presidential Election - Essay Example

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The 2008 US Presidential Election was closely contested with Barack Obama and John McCain emerging as the major candidates.Around this time,the US economy had experienced a serious recession over several quarters due to a sub-prime mortgage crisis …
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Agenda-setting and the Presidential Election
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Agenda-setting and the presidential election a) What issue(s) was highlighted by the media (or the candi s themselves) that may have had an effect on voters that year? The 2008 US (United States) Presidential Election was closely contested with Barack Obama and John McCain emerging as the major candidates towards the end. A number of issues occupied the center stage of their election campaign and were covered extensively by the media. One of the top issues that formed the core of the media and public’s attention was the long and costly war in Iraq and Afghanistan that had drained the nation of considerable public wealth and public sympathy besides costing the lives of thousands of soldiers (Schantz, 2010). Around this time, the US economy had experienced a serious recession over several quarters due to a sub-prime mortgage crisis that had resulted in the bankruptcy of several prominent banks and major unemployment problems. Such incidents in the financial markets, coupled with the government’s necessary and protracted involvement in rescuing the economy from total collapse were also some of the issues that the candidates had to contend with (Campbell, 2009). The state of the healthcare system in the US and its inaccessibility to millions of Americans was another major issue that was the focus of the media’s scrutiny (Campbell, 2009). The public was eager to learn how the next President would succeed in providing basic healthcare to all those who needed it the most, but could not afford it. b) There was an emphasis on independent voters in swing states such as Ohio. While the strength of independent voters was minimal until the past few decades, their proportion and strength within the American public has grown significantly over the years. Independent voters constitute the largest segment within the US electorate and account or nearly 50% of the votes in key states like Ohio, North Carolina and Pennsylvania (Hopkins, 2009). These trends suggest a generational shift within the electorate, which now aspires increasingly to vote for candidates based on their strengths and achievements rather than their allegiance to a particular political party. According to Campbell (2009), the increased significance of independent voters has gained momentum as both the Republicans and Democrats have evolved into ideologically polarized entities that are largely disconnected with the social issues that exist in the public domain. Hopkins (2009) says that voters have grown tired of the widening differences between the two political parties and a lack of seriousness towards solving the issues at hand. The growing strength and emphasis of the independent movement within American politics has been evident over the past few years with the election of independents such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Michael Bloomberg as the California State Governor and Mayor of the City of New York respectively (Schantz, 2010). c) What issue had a significant impact in swing states among independents? Support your opinion with research. Schantz (2010) states that the ignorance among partisans towards these electoral changes and their belief about independents as an insignificant group are the primary reasons for the emergence of the independents as a dominant force in swing states like Colorado, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bardes (2011) says that independents have a progressive outlook and lay great emphasis on economic stability and national security. His studies on electoral trends have demonstrated that independents prefer patriotism over political alignment and that the interests of the nation supersede every other issue. While terrorism and healthcare occupied the bulk of the electoral campaign among both Republicans and Democrats, the major factor that determined the political strength of the independents in swing states was the state of the US economy and the resulting impact on jobs and fiscal stability as a result of the recession. Keith (2010) argues that financial regulation and responsibility were critical factors in influencing independents during the 2008 presidential election. In his monthly analysis on the state of unemployment between 1995 and 2010, Baumgartner (2011) states that the number of unemployed was highest among independent voters in comparison to both Republicans and Democrats during 60% of the sample period. On an average, nearly 14% of independents were jobless in comparison to Democrats (10%) and Republicans (7%) between 2007 and 2010. Bardes (2011) mentions that government assistance to big banks in the form of stimulus packages, to help them overcome bankruptcy, and the use of taxpayer money to fund this assistance added to a major discontent among independent voters prompting them to vote against the incumbent Republican Party across key states. Independents’ decisions were also influenced by the opposition within the Republican Party towards reducing tax incentives to wealthy Americans besides encouraging risk among major banks through weak regulations and lack of responsible fiscal oversight (Schantz, 2010). References 1. Bardes, B (2011). American Government and Politics Today. London: Cengage Learning. 2. Baumgartner, J (2011). Conventional wisdom and American elections: exploding myths, exploring misconceptions. New York: Rowman & Littlefield. 3. Campbell, J (2009). The presidential pulse of congressional elections. University Press of Kentucky. 4. Hopkins, D (2009). Presidential Elections: Strategies and Structures of American Politics. New York: Rowman & Littlefield. 5. Keith, B (2010). The Myth of the Independent voter. University of California Press. 6. Schantz, H (2010). American presidential elections: process, policy, and political change. SUNY Press. Read More
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