This paper aims to predict the election outcomes for both the Republican and Democratic candidates in the current election for the presidential nomination in the state of Vermont. It will also explain in detail the reasons for such predictions. The paper will commence with a brief description of the demographic and political characteristics of the state of Vermont i.e. the preliminaries will lay a foundation by explaining the basic social and political characteristics of the state. The following section will cover the 2016 primary, outlining in detail the campaign period, the local issues that came up, and the results of the campaign. Finally, the last section will highlight the lessons that were drawn from the contest about the nature of political campaigns in Vermont and the quality and capacity of the candidates in the area.
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The Demographic and Political Characteristics of Vermont
Vermont is a delicate fusion of the old and contemporary America.1 In fact, it is lauded for its quaintness and adherence to its old farming ways, and it is this laid-back charm that serves as a tourism attraction.2 It is also a state that places a lot of weight and value on the environment and its pristine environmental conditions also serve as an attraction for immigrants.3 This reputation sunk deep roots after Deane Davis pushed through a land use law that required anyone that was investing in housing developments to seek the approval of 5 commissions and comply with ten environmental criteria before getting a go-ahead for their project. Interestingly, the composition of its population has morphed over the years so that in 2010, the census revealed that only 58% of the population was made up of old Vermonters, the remaining 48% being a mixture of all the in-migrants. In 2014, the population estimates were at 626,562 people.4
Earlier on, specifically around the 18th century, its main economic activities including keeping dairy cows for milk and rearing maple trees for their syrup. Later on, in the 1960s its economy grew rapidly as it embraced a wider diversity of economic activities. This included building summer homes and other leisure destinations like ski resorts. Tourism, therefore, plays a central role in the generation of income within the state. Regarding literacy levels, the percentage of the population that was estimated to have attained a high school diploma or even higher qualifications between 2010 and 2014 was ranked at 91.6.5
Politically, Vermont had historically been heavily Republican, having been recorded as the most Republican state in 1936. There has however been a complete turnaround over the recent years and in 2004, it was ranked the fourth most democratic state, and in 2003, it moved a step higher and became the third most democratic state. This move towards being a Democrat state was commenced by the degree holders, and the old Vermonters later followed, voting 60-39% for Obama in 2012.6 Also, People from neighboring cities like Massachusetts and New York started fleeing struggling metropolises like Boston and New York City.7 As they headed north some of them landed in Vermont. These previous city dwellers also played a hand in re-shaping of the political atmosphere. Its journey to being completely liberal in cultural and foreign issues was highlighted by an incident in 2003 were led by Howard Dean; they opposed the Iraq war. In addition to this, Sanders, who is a presidential aspirant in the 2016 elections, was also at one point of his political career pushing for a 50% cut on the financing that is spent on the military.
Coverage of the 2016 Primary
The Two top candidates for both the Democratic and Republican parties were Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders for the Democrats and Donald Trump and John Kasich for the Republicans. Bernie Sanders, being a native of Vermont obviously enjoyed a lot of support from his home state. He has however not been engaging Hilary Clinton in debates and this, according to political analysts, is a strategy of its kind. Instead of spurring with Hilary Clinton, with whom he has been competing for the party support, he has been engaging with Donald Trump, who is running on a Republican ticket.
Observers say that this is a political ploy and in fact, what they are fighting over are the non-affiliated voters who will be eligible to run in the 2016 elections. They are therefore focusing their attention on these voters because they are the ones whose votes are not yet sure.8 Statistics show that Sanders has the support of the well-educated population while Trump receives more support from those with low-level education and ‘blue-collar- jobs.9 The reason for this contest can be better understood by considering the fact that according to the data released between 2009 and 2013, Vermont exceeded the national average for residents who had attained at least a bachelor’s degree. The US Census Bureau recorded that 34.8% of its residents aged between 25 years and above had attained a bachelor’s degree in contrast to the 28.8% at the national level. This, therefore, means that these voters may likely vote for Sanders, and therefore Trump has to focus on the votes that are not considered to go definitely to Sanders.
Various issues have featured in the presidential campaign among them being health care, taxes, war, etc. It is interesting to note that although Vermont is highly liberal, even in matters of economics, they have still not yet achieved the level of liberalism with regards to tax that may spur further economic growth. Recently, however, there has been a recent move to offer tax incentives, loans, and grants to stimulate economic growth throughout the state. This is the reason taxes have been an issue of controversy and much debate in the elections.
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It is also noteworthy that, although the new Vermont is liberal, the old Vermont is still present and very vibrant. This may be the section of the populace that the Republicans are banking on because Vermont has also had a history of supporting Republicans and it does in fact house a good number of conservatives.10 In fact, statistics show that a good part of Vermont is still made up of the old white population that has roots in the lineages of the Yankee settlers of the 18th century.
In the primaries that were held in March 2016, Bernie Sanders won the Democrat race with a staggering 86.1% with Clinton only managing to clinch 13.6% of the votes. On the Republican side, Donald Trump took the day although with not so wide a margin as Sanders’. He managed to garner 32.7% of the votes, closely followed by John Kasich at 30.4%. Sanders’ easy win can be explained by the fact that Vermont is his home state and over the past few decades, it has been leaning heavily towards Democratic support.
CNN conducted Super Tuesday exit polls which revealed that Sanders had overwhelming support among liberal and moderate Democrats and all the age groups. He also had considerable support among Vermont’s younger voters i.e. 95% of the Democratic voters aged 17-29 voted for him. The same exit polls conducted by CNN revealed that Trump won 34% men against 31% women while Marco Rubio had the highest support among voters within the age bracket of 17-44 at 30%. Trump on the higher hand was preferred by voters of 45 years and above and also by those voters with incomes of under 50,000 dollars. Kasich won a majority of the votes of the coveted independent voters winning 34% of their votes. Trump managed to garner 25% of the independent voters.
Lessons from the campaign
From the above discussion, there are various lessons that can be drawn from the manner in which the 2016 primaries in Vermont were conducted and eventually turned out. First, it is evident from the paper that the history of a state will play a crucial role in the choices that the voters will make. For example, although Vermont was initially Republican, history reveals that there has been a massive shift and that it is now democratic. To understand the parties that a particular state considers more favorably, then it is necessary to comprehend the history of that state.
The demographic composition of a state is also a crucial factor to consider when analyzing the polls in an election. The way that a state is composed is highly informative of the ideologies that the people in a state hold. For example, it is the popular knowledge that the population in Vermont is highly constituted by liberals, but a prudent analyst is one that is also watchful of the old Vermonters who as are considered to be more conservative. Concerning demographics, the literacy of people and income per household are also issues that are central in the matters of the election. Vermont has been identified as a state with a high level of literacy which even exceeds that which is projected at the national level. People who consider themselves elites usually consider different matters in political leadership from those that have attained only a low level of education. A closer inspection in the analysis of the current elections shows that there are those candidates that are preferred by a more educated sector of the population while there are others that are backed by the less educated sector of the population.
Furthermore, observing the way the opponents in an election interact can also reveal the strategies and tactics that they are aiming to rely on in their campaigns. For instance, it is highly piquant that although people would consider Sanders’ natural opponent to be Hillary Clinton, he nonetheless spends a lot of his debate time debating with Donald Trump. This, therefore, has led to the conclusion that there must be an area of common interest between the two presidential aspirants and this has over time been revealed to be the unaffiliated voters.
On the whole, the main lesson that can be drawn from this study is that the study of the previous voting patterns of a state will reveal how they are most likely to vote in an ongoing election. An understanding of the ideological and historical background of a state is also important because they determine the issues that will matter to people in a particular area. Although this may be true, one should also not forget to look at the minority voters because sometimes, the outcomes of elections usually depend on their decisions. Lastly, once a culture is established in a state, it usually runs for some years before it can be changed and this is therefore why political analysts can predict the outcomes of elections with relative accuracy.
American FactFinder. Community Facts. United States Census Bureau, 2014. Web.
Barone, Michael, Chuck McCutcheon, Sean Trende and Josh Kraushaar. The Almanac of American Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013.
Cohen, Micah. ‘New’ Vermont is Liberal but ‘Old’ Vermont is Still There. New York Times, 2012. Web.
Dickinson, Matthew. A War of Words with Spoils. U.S News and World Report, 2016. Web.
- Michael Barone, Chuck McCutcheon, Sean Trende and Josh Kraushaar, The Almanac of American Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013), 1694.
- American FactFinder, Community Facts (United States Census Bureau, 2014), Web.
- Barone, Almanac of American Politics, p.1697
- Micah Cohen, ‘New’ Vermont is Liberal, but ‘Old’ Vermont is still there, (New York Times) Web.
- Matthew Dickinson, A War of Words with spoils (U.S News and World Report) Web.
- Cohen, ‘New’ Vermont is Liberal.