Election 2012: Campaign 101 with DePaul Professor Wayne Steger

By Monica Kucera and Hazelmarie Anderson
The Red Line Project

Posted: Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012

Politics is tricky — and politicians can be even trickier.

So it’s essential for college students and young adults to be as educated as possible before submitting a presidential vote.

With that in mind, DePaul University Political Science Professor Wayne Steger helped explain the in's and out's of campaigns and elections.

He started with the effect voter turnout and swing states have on this year’s presidential election.

“Voters are basically rational in the sense that they have an idea what’s important to them, so, what’s the few things voters should know, really depends on the voters,” Steger said.

People have a wide range of opinions and interests that they bring with them to the polls every four years. Despite differing opinions, every person should be aware of their own economic interest, according to Steger. An important question to ask before voting is, “How will Democrat and Republican financial plans, fiscal taxing and spending affect you individually?”

“That will vary person by person depending on their financial income,” Steger said. “For young people – I’d be most concerned with plans to stimulate economic growth.”

Questions college students should keep in the back of their mind before voting are issues such as, “How could tax cuts or tax increases affect job growth in the next four years? Or, What’s going to happen to financial aid?”

For Steger, it’s as simple is this: “If people aren’t voting, they’re not going to be taken into account by politicians when they make decisions.”

The result of college students not voting in big numbers is a cut to federal aid to education. Politicians can face little consequence for doing this because of low voter turnout from students.

“The outcome of the election is ultimately going to be determined by voter turnout,” Steger said.

Another hot topic voters should be aware of is swing states. Swing states contain voters evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. Because of the Electoral College, the popular vote doesn’t directly determine the outcome of the presidential election.

“It’s really a combination of popular vote and geography,” Steger said.

Steger explained that the US is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans.

Regardless of the even divide nationally, Illinois is very Democratic. “Illinois is not a swing state,” Steger said. “We’re going to go Democratic, we have every presidential year since 1984.”

States such as Ohio, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Colorado, Florida are traditional swing states. But states like Virginia and North Carolina, which voted Republican in 2008, have been becoming more democratic and that is why swing states play an important role in this year’s election.

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