CONGRATULATIONS to Layla Martin, a 9th grader from Noblesville High School in Indiana, on winning the Grand Prize $500 Election Challenge scholarship. Her Teacher is Mr. Mason Harris, who has her in his “Geography and History of the World” class.
High-five team Noblesville! Points for Indiana!
Here’s what Layla wrote about what she learned:
The two main political parties, Republican and Democrat, have always been a mystery to me because I didn’t know what the difference between them was, or why it mattered which party would win. And this year that changed.
Participating in this Election Challenge taught me a lot about the government and politics. When I had to predict which candidate would win each state, I used a picture from the internet that showed which states were definitely going to be Republican or Democratic, and which states were Swing States. At the time, I didn’t know what it meant to be a Swing State. But after some searching, I found out that being a Swing State means that people tend to vote fairly equally for both parties there.
Since I knew that this election was the most intense election in a long time, I figured that is was going to be a very close race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. And I assumed that there would be a lot more people who’d vote this year than in past elections, which was right because there were about 3 million more voters this year compared to 2012. Voting for the President is supposed to be one of the most important things that people can do to make this country exactly the way we want since the President is who represents America and does most of the decision-making.
On November 9th after the election, I looked up the final results and one thing I noticed was that Trump had more electoral votes than Hillary Clinton, but had less popular votes 60,834,437 as Hillary had 61,782,016. I’ve never seen a case where the winner of the election did not win the Popular Vote, so I looked it up and found that this hasn’t happened much, except for a few times in the 1800s and when George W. Bush became President.
This fact is making many people believe that the Electoral College is not fair.
People are still protesting against this, and I find that pretty reasonable because Donald Trump isn’t who most people voted for.
We all know that there are two political parties that all states are supposed to choose from, so I’m also starting to wonder now why people from other political parties even bother to run. People who are libertarians or Green Party candidates are barely voted for, which is very limiting.
I’ve learned that people should consider opening their minds more to the other parties, and states shouldn’t always have a definite party that they vote for. But this happens because the Republican and Democratic parties are well-developed and get more money for their campaigns, so they can have more control over the Media.
I’ve personally seen tons of things on Instagram and Twitter about Trump and Clinton, but never any about Gary Johnson or any other candidate. I assumed that’s why he didn’t have any chance at winning the election according to the polls earlier in the year.
The United States is still a great country to live in because we have so many freedoms and privileges. If we had a monarchy or a dictatorship, we wouldn’t have as much say in what’s happening in our government. I’ve learned that a lot more goes into elections and becoming the president, and that knowledge will stay with me forever.
Teacher Ryan Kay from Warren Mott High School in Michigan also finished at the top of the Election Challenge leaderboard, out-predicting all adults. Here’s how he did it!
The following was written by Mr. Kay:
Nate Silver, CNN, and networks similar to them failed to come close to predicting the outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election. The statisticians and pollsters who analyzed and sorted through countless amounts of data for immeasurable amounts of hours were off by large margins. How did a American Government High School Teacher almost predict the outcome of the Presidential Election?
The rapid disconnect of landline phones and the rise of smartphones and social media was something pollsters were not prepared for:
I did not go on what Mass Media and professional pollsters were predicting. With many registered voters not having landline phones anymore, polling has become less reliable. I personally looked at social media posts on Twitter and Facebook, researched on-line how well the candidates were registering in key battleground states with potential voters, and monitored how personal and political attacks from Wikileaks, major media outlets, and social media affected how voters perceived Trump and Clinton. I also talked to supporters from both sides and asked them why they were voting for either candidate.
Middle class workers felt left behind after the Great Recession and the economy was the main factor voters had in mind:
Living in the “Rust Belt” (Michigan), I had a strong feeling that Trump would win Michigan, Ohio, and even Wisconsin. I saw the growing wave of populism, started by Bernie Sanders, continued in a different form with Trump. Trump, I predicted, would win more blue-collar and Union votes because these Americans aren’t just angry — they want a president who will fight for jobs they feel have left the country for places like China and Mexico.
Middle class workers who feel that they are working harder for less pay with fewer benefits felt that change was needed and they saw Trump as that change candidate — one who promised to get rid of trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
The pollsters and Mass Media neglected to mention how strongly people felt about the current economy and how much people are “anti-establishment” against those who currently hold offices in Washington D.C. News of rising health care costs could not have come at a worse time for Hillary Clinton with direct ties to the Affordable Health Care Act. Wikileaks also decreased voter turnout among groups like Millennials who favored Hillary over Trump.
Voters were willing to overlook the personal faults and poor choices by both candidates, and when they entered that voting booth or mailed in their absentee ballot, they voted for the person they felt would fight for them, not just to create jobs, but to create better paying jobs with better benefits.
These factors played important roles in swaying voters’ reasoning for who they were going to vote for, confused pollsters who were trying gauge how voters were thinking, and helped Trump get an edge on Hillary.
All I did was prepare for a lesson for my American Government class. I used my education and knowledge and made my predictions.